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Resource Consent granted for central city development

1 November 2006

A Resource Consent granted by an independent commissioner for a 14-level hotel to be constructed on the site of the existing Warner’s Hotel beer garden, has been ‘not opposed’ by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

The hotel will abut the Warner’s building, and reception facilities will be accessed by way of the existing Warner’s Hotel entrance. The hotel will have 155 new hotel rooms with 123m2 of retail and hospitality space available on the first floor.

“The new development will provide positive heritage benefits in extending the present western façade of Warner's Hotel, in a similar form and style, and complete the built enclosure of Cathedral Square,” says Council Resource Management Manager Tim Harris.

Under the consent, which was non-notified due to the impact on the heritage building being considered less than minimal, the original Warner's entrance and portico will be retained and the principal entrance to the new hotel will continue the tradition since 1863 for the historic use of the site as a hotel.

“The new tower will be located solely on the old Savoy site, leaving the heritage hotel intact, while being set back sufficiently to ensure that the original and extended sections of Warner's are seen as complete buildings, and not just facades,” Mr Harris says.

“This effect would be emphasised by the contemporary design of the tower which will certainly be distinguishable as a new addition.”

The present western section of the building dates from 1900, however this was severely truncated by the demolition of the northern section to construct the Liberty Theatre (later the Savoy) in 1917.

“The demolition of the Savoy Theatre left the western façade in an architecturally unhappy imbalance and has resulted in a major gap in the continuous line of buildings which contains and defines the Maltese Cross form of Cathedral Square, which is an iconic Christchurch heritage feature.”


The presence of a hotel building on the Warner’s site dates back to 1863 when John Coker established ‘The Commercial and Dining Rooms’ catering mainly to ‘commercial gentlemen’. As early as 1864, ownership of the building passed to William White who renamed it the Commercial Hotel. Subsequently the hotel became associated with the name of its third owner - William Francis Warner - who took over the business in 1874. The hotel license passed to E. Cookson in 1879, Warner returning in 1882. Although the Warner family relinquished control of the building in 1900, the hotel continued to be known as Warner’s.

In 1900 the original timber portions of Warner’s succumbed to fire and designs for a substantial new masonry addition facing west were prepared by noted architect Joseph Clarkson Maddison and construction was completed by 1903.

The Luttrell Brothers added another storey to the whole complex c1910 and they were also responsible, in 1917, for the demolition of the northern section of the building to make way for the construction of the Liberty Theatre. Removal of this section has disturbed the visual symmetry and balance of the building.

The south-facing portion erected by the Luttrell Brothers c1920, eventually established the existing architectural character of the whole complex. In 1934 the hotel underwent extensive refurbishment establishing it as one of the most up-to-date hotels in terms of interior design. Many elements of this era still remain. The management and ownership of Warner's changed many times over the years.

In 2002 the Christchurch City Council provided a grant from heritage funds to assist with the retention and restoration of the hotel. The owner entered into a covenant with the Council to restore, maintain and conserve the hotel and, with respect to a Council resolution, to extend the façade to the west to a design with the agreement of the Council. The building design is in direct response to the requirements of this covenant applying to the site.

Today Warner's, now fully restored provides accommodation and bars.

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