By Kloe Palmer
Protesters have been arrested as the demolition of one of Christchurch’s oldest buildings got underway this morning after plans to save it failed.
The 140-year-old Cranmer Court complex was red-stickered after the February earthquake last year.
There was devastation, disbelief and anger from protestors as 140 years of history was brought to the ground. Police were forced to step in as protesters let loose.
The Cranmer Court complex has been a school, a teachers' college, a restaurant and until just before February’s earthquake, apartments.
Protestors are very unhappy about the demolition.
“It's crazy it's destroying the city,” one said.
Protesters arrived early asking for more time and consideration, but their pleas were futile.
Heritage protestor Lorraine Grey thinks taking the buildings down is unbelievable.
“We've lost virtually everything and we can't afford to lose this, and we don't have to. It's sheer madness.”
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) ticked off the demolition. It says it investigated all possible avenues for preserving the building.
But heritage expert Ian Lockhead from Canterbury University said that is nonsense.
“Some of the 20th century's most brutal and repressive regimes have done more for saving their heritage than has been done by CERA and the current Government for heritage in Christchurch.”
Local heritage commentator Rodney Laredo wonders how people can do this.
“Where do the demolition guys stand on this, haven't they got a conscience? Are they working for themselves or for Christchurch? There must be someone in the demolition crew who says, 'Really this is a tragedy, should we be doing it?'”
The demolition is expected to take nine weeks and after it's done the site will just be another, empty inner-city section.