Eager wait on hospital grounds
News last week that one of the old Porirua Hospital ward blocks would soon be cleared was a timely reminder the central business district is not the only area in Porirua begging for major revitalisation.
Folks have been calling for bulldozers at the hospital grounds for decades and upon learning the old Montrose Block was to be cleared, were likely hopeful it hinted at further redevelopment. Alas, we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. Negotiations on a Treaty settlement between the Crown and Ngati Toa are still ongoing, with the 42.27-hectare lot being held in an Office of Treaty Settlements (OTS) landbank.
OTS called for tenders for the Montrose Block’s removal and sale because the 69-year-old building had been deemed obsolete and could not be tenanted. OTS director Peter Galvin said its removal would help clean up part of the site, remove a liability and reduce costs for the Crown.
Ngati Toa was consulted on the proposed works but is, understandably, keeping mum on any future plans for the land until the settlement is concluded.
When that time comes, the development possibilities will hopefully be bold and exciting. Rarely does such a large, central lot of land become available – with the opportunity to work from a blank canvas.
Some may be hesitant to demolish what’s left of a significant – and chequered – part of Porirua’s history, but we doubt many of the old buildings would be worth retaining beyond the old F ward, home to the museum and chapel.
The years spent in limbo, attracting little investment, have not been kind to the old hospital grounds.
It is certainly difficult to reconcile the gothic grandeur of the Porirua Lunatic Asylum and wellkept grounds seen in old photographs with the dilapidated remnants currently wasting away.
No matter how many times we visit organisations based there, it never ceases to astound us how grim the area is.
Worn- out roads, rundown villas and dark corners; God help any out-of-towner who takes a wrong turn into the rabbit warren. They would probably think they had driven into a scene out of Deliverance.
It was no surprise one comment below the online article on Montrose Block’s clearing suggested turning the old hospital grounds into an ‘‘Amazing Maze/haunted house’’ style attraction. We’d wager it already is.
Matthew Dallas, Editor.