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Temporary court removal begins

The former temporary courthouse in Humber St, Oamaru, which is being dismantled. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

After a month-long delay, work to remove Oamaru's former temporary courthouse is under way.

Ministry of Justice commercial and property general manager Fraser Gibbs had earlier confirmed the leased building in Humber St behind the Brydone Hotel, known as the "porta-court", would be removed and returned to the company it was leased from.

The portable cell was owned by the ministry and would go into storage until it was needed for another project.

"We anticipate the buildings will be removed in early March and that the site will be fully cleared by the end of April," he said in a brief statement to the Otago Daily Times in late January.

However, that timeframe was delayed so work to prepare the building for removal could be carried out, Mr Gibbs said yesterday.

"The removal of the temporary courthouse was delayed for a month while safety work was undertaken. Contractors have now begun decommissioning the temporary courthouse. It's expected to take a week to complete. Restoration of the car park is expected to be completed by the end of April."

The wooden ramp, stairs and deck area that led to office spaces had been removed, as had some internal panels.

Oamaru court services returned to the historic 1883 Thames St courthouse in mid-January. The building was closed in 2011, when it was classed as earthquake-prone.

Court services were initially relocated to Timaru, then the nearby Oamaru Opera House in 2012 and eventually to the portable facility in Humber St in 2014.

After an initial ministry estimate of $6million to reopen the 136-year-old courthouse, the Waitaki District Council bought the building and agreed to lease it back to the ministry.

The council invested roughly $900,000 in a project to earthquake-strengthen and refurbish it and its surroundings last year.

The work was completed in October.

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