Diggers, "nibblers", "knuckle-booms" and scissor-lifts will make for an impressive sight as the last stage of the Soundshell gets under way.

Machinery is now on site removing the north and south wings of the historic Rotorua building.

Rotorua Lakes Council said both wings were now clear of Class A asbestos, however the central auditorium could still contain trace levels of asbestos meaning all materials would need to be treated before removal.

This section of the building will be removed last.

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The council's contractors will be using a number of methods to remove the building structure including using diggers and "nibblers" for the side wings with those machines on site now.

This will then be followed by "knuckle-booms" and scissor-lifts to remove the aluminium sheeting of the auditorium. When the structure is down to its lower level, the large machinery will return to site to finish the removal.

Class A asbestos removal is a WorkSafe notifiable activity and the council has worked in partnership with WorkSafe to ensure the success of the project.

The age and nature of the building had meant the removal process was significantly more complex, and had required several agencies to be involved to ensure the safe removal in line with relevant guidelines and legislation, the council said.

Independent asbestos assessors have monitored the site since the project began and will continue to monitor as the structures are removed and cleared from the site.

The removal of the three structures, the auditorium and the north and south wings was due to take about three weeks, however, ensuring the safe removal of the remaining material would determine the final date of completion.

Project background

In 2015 the Soundshell was closed after several issues including structural integrity, general disrepair and earthquake proneness, meaning it would be uneconomical to undertake the work required to make the original building safe, as well as bring it up to a usable standard.

After public consultation, the upgrade of the site was then included in the 2018-2028 Long-Term Plan as part of the Lakefront redevelopment.

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When the building has been fully removed, the concrete slab will be taken away and the ground levelled.