The future of a historic Eltham building is unknown after councillors agreed it be put on the market

The former Eltham Borough Council municipal building was built in 1911. It is registered as a category two historic place, under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014.

The building was last used in 2018, after the building was rated at 8 per cent of the New Building Standard.

It will cost an estimated $1.8 million for earthquake strengthening and extensive repairs.

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At the recent South Taranaki District Council policy and strategy committee meeting, councillors agreed to the recommendation that the building be advertised for sale, on the condition the buyer has the funds to strengthen the building.

South Taranaki District Mayor Phil Nixon says council can't justify spending ratepayer dollars on a building which isn't used, however they would prefer not to lose it either.

"This is an old council building that has been underutilised for over 30 years. It would cost a couple of million dollars to upgrade and the council cannot spend public money doing that when there is no community need for the building."

He says the council recognises the heritage value of the building and wants to make purchasing the building easy for anyone interested.

"This is why we are offering the building at a nominal price provided the buyer has the means and genuine intention to strengthen and maintain the building."

Councillor Mark Bellringer says the building is an important part of Eltham's history.

"The building is a real asset to South Taranaki. It is important to retain the historic buildings in Eltham."

He says he finds Eltham's history interesting, saying he owns a piece of history himself.

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Mark and his partner, Barbara Valintine, own the former BNZ bank in Eltham, which is now both a shop and the couple's home.

"We bought 'The Bank' 13 years ago, we saw some pictures online and we fell in love."

Mark says each time a historic building is knocked down, a piece of history is lost.

"We have to preserve these buildings. Eltham is a very special town."

He says there has been interest in the former council building from buyers, including developers from Auckland.

"Hopefully someone buys it. It would be a really sad day if it was to be knocked down. The building just needs some tender love and care."

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If a buyer is not found in the next 12 months, a report will be brought to council for a final decision to be made on the future of the building.