Chch New Regent St trams full steam ahead

The New Regent St heritage buildings were damaged after the Valentine's Day earthquake (Newshub.)
The New Regent St heritage buildings were damaged after the Valentine's Day earthquake (Newshub.)

The last barrier has lifted from New Regent St meaning trams are back running after buildings were damaged from the Valentine's Day earthquake.

This means the tram can travel the full figure-eight loop from Canterbury Museum to Cathedral Junction.

Tramway operations manager John Smith is delighted to see the barrier come down.

"This is great news for city tourists, as well as the retailers on New Regent Street who have borne the brunt of several weeks of disruption," he says.

After the February 14 earthquake, damage was done to a number of buildings which raised safety concerns for people using the street. Buildings along the street are 85 years old, and registered as category one by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

Safety fencing was installed for public safety, affecting businesses along the street. The buildings have now been repaired to a point where the fencing can be removed. A team of engineers will do an assessment of buildings along New Regent St tomorrow.

Concerns were raised about specific design features on other buildings in the street. Heritage team leader Brendan Smyth says because of the unique situation on New Regent St and its importance to the city, the Christchurch City Council agreed to coordinate the assessment of the buildings.

 "The Council is working with the owners to ensure that any work preserves the heritage character of New Regent Street's Spanish Mission style architecture," he says. 

Heritage rebuild programme manager Richie Moyle says the engineers have significant experience in dealing with heritage buildings.

"They will identify any safety issues along the street frontage," he says.

"Specifically, we are concerned with design features on buildings that give the special heritage character for which the street is known  parapets, eyebrows and balconies."

The engineers will use a 10-tonne crane to get access to the buildings. The use of the crane is not expected to cause any disruption to the operation of the tram, or access to businesses.