De­mo­li­tion ‘ridicu­lous’

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Heather McCracken

CITY of­fi­cials have no con­cerns about a 1930s bay villa knocked down un­der a con­sent for al­ter­ations and ad­di­tions.

But neigh­bours say the de­mo­li­tion makes a mock­ery of the city’s her­itage pro­tec­tion rules.

“It shouldn’t have been al­lowed,” says neigh­bour Raewyn Ja­cobs.

“We’re re­ally dis­ap­pointed that an­other one has gone.”

The one-level villa in St Marys Bay was de­mol­ished un­der con­sent granted in 2004, be­fore tougher her­itage rules were put in place.

The con­sent al­lowed for al­ter­ations to the house and ad­di­tion of a new level.

Neigh­bours who had ap­proved the plans were shocked to see the house knocked down in Jan­uary.

“It’s a shame be­cause that was a re­ally good ex­am­ple of the lovely old houses in this area,” Mrs Ja­cobs says.

“There were four houses there in a row that were all orig­i­nal, and now you’ve got this stuck in the mid­dle.”

Neigh­bour Alan Bar­ber says he doesn’t un­der­stand the coun­cil’s ap­proval.

“What’s the use of hav­ing plan­ning laws if peo­ple can go around knock­ing down th­ese beau­ti­ful old houses?

“To have coun­cil en­able this house to be de­mol­ished and re­placed with what’s clearly not an ap­pro­pri­ate dwelling is ridicu­lous.”

But owner Vinda SinghCos­grave says de­mo­li­tion was her only op­tion.

She says front and back walls were ear­marked for re­moval in orig­i­nal plans.

A third wall needed to be re­placed in or­der to meet fire-proof­ing stan­dards, and the fourth was found to be rot­ten.

“The de­ci­sion was made that rather than try­ing to re­store it we had to take that last wall down,” she says.

“I was given per­mis­sion and car­ried it out ac­cord­ing to what the coun­cil said I had to do.”

Coun­cil reg­u­la­tory plan­ning man­ager An­dew Gys­berts says he’s “re­laxed” about the de­mo­li­tion.

And he says the owner could have taken the same ac­tion with con­sent is­sued un­der the cur­rent dis­trict plan.

New rules mean re­source con­sent is needed for de­mo­li­tion of pre-1940 houses in char­ac­ter sub­urbs in­clud­ing St Marys Bay.

Mr Gys­berts says coun­cil is mostly con­cerned the fin­ished house matches ap­proved plans.

“There was noth­ing in the con­sent around how they get from A to B,” he says.

“At this stage we have no con­cerns we’re not go­ing to get the out­come the coun­cil has signed off.”

He says the coun­cil will be watch­ing closely to en­sure plans are fol­lowed.

Mr Gys­berts says in fu­ture of­fi­cers may look more closely at con­sents where de­mo­li­tion could be re­quired.

“If we thought in struc­tural terms that they needed to take away all of what was cur­rently there then we might re­quire them to ad­vise us to that ef­fect.”

City de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee chair­man Pe­seta Sam Lotu-Iiga agrees pro­cesses may need to change.

“There needs to be a bit more care taken to see whether such cases are head­ing to­wards de­mo­li­tion,” he says.

Mr Lotu-Iiga says it’s an un­for­tu­nate case, but he’s sat­is­fied the owner acted in good faith.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Ex­treme makeover: Raewyn Ja­cobs is among neigh­bours an­gry at the de­mo­li­tion of a St Marys Bay villa.

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