16 Feb 2010

Hearing begins over Christchurch music school

6:07 am on 16 February 2010

Canterbury University vice-chancellor Rod Carr has told commissioners hearing its resource consent application for a National Conservatorium of Music that they have the chance to shape the future for music students in Christchurch.

Two commissioners began on Monday hearing the university's application to build the music school in the historic Arts Centre complex in Christchurch.

Its proposal has attracted strong opposition. Some of the 600 submitters against the plan say the construction would ruin the look of the Arts Centre.

Dr Carr said the facility would fit with the culture of the buildings already there, enhance the area and bring live performance to the city centre.

He told the hearing the opportunity to build in the central city is a once-in-a-generation chance for the university to reconnect with the city and it would bring talented people to the city centre.

The university's lawyer, Jen Crawford, told the hearing the proposed building would enhance the key attributes of the Arts Centre and revitalise an area that is not being used.

The conservatorium building would have a basement carpark, she said, and a quadrangle and associated landscaping would be established.

The university's Director of the Centre for Fine Arts, Music and Theatre, Dr Amanda Morris told the hearing that basing the facility in the city would give the public greater access to performances the students put on as part of their studies.

The proposal is backed by the city council which would lend the university the $24 million it needs to build the conservatorium.