Neighbours battle new house plan
THE FATE of an “eyesore” on Clarence St – a Ponsonby heritage street – will be decided at an Auckland City Council hearing next week.
The dilapidated house on the historic street came to the attention of locals in 2005 when owners Michael Pervan and Amy Oding applied for its demolition to build a new house on the site.
The issue has stirred up opposition among residents and next Wednesday nine submitters, mostly opposing the new development, will present their case to council commissioners.
Although some support the demolition of the ramshackle house built in the 1880s, all have opposed the new building, saying it is out of keeping with the character of the street.
Parnell Heritage Society secretary Kate Bowden says the new building, a single level house with a basement level, is a modern architectural design that would look like a “whale out of water” in the quaint street.
Ms Bowden says the first priority should be to retain the existing building if possible.
“It’s quite clearly part of the heritage and character of our city,” she says.
“It’s one of the small remaining bastions of heritage that we have.”
Ideally, she says, the society would like to see the applicants reconsider their plans for the property.
“We’d hope that anyone who moves into a residential one-zoned property wants to keep the heritage and work with it.”
Approving the demolition would fly in the face of plan change 163, a modification to the district plan proposed in 2005 that tightly restricts the demolition of heritage buildings and construction of new buildings in areas zoned residential one, says Ms Bowden.
“Our concern is to ensure that any change in the residential one zone sets an appropriate precedent for other applications,” she says.
Since 2005, six different engineering and architectural firms have assessed the building and generally agree it is too rundown to be restored. Archifact Ltd, which assessed the building in 2008, was the only firm to advise that demolition of the house would detract from Clarence St’s “continuity and character”.
Loraine Lovering, who lives next door to the site, says the new building design is not harmonious with the character of the street.
“I think it would be a real eyesore. At least build a building that’s sympathetic.”
She says she would like to see more research done into whether the building can be restored.
Ms Lovering says the new development will also have detrimental effects to a large bay tree on her property and on surrounding trees.
But another Clarence St resident, Paora Maxwell, says he’d rather see something done about the building than have it left to deteriorate.
“I’d rather they do something because it’s such an eyesore,” he says. “They’ve just let it rot.”
Mr Maxwell says the plans for the new house look “quite nice” and he has no objections to it.
In a report to the council, planning consultant Sarah Mossman has recommended the application be declined, calling the new design “inconsistent” with the guidelines for the street, the district plan and plan change 163.
Ms Mossman also states the proposal will have “more than minor” effects on the environment, in particular trees on surrounding properties.
The applicants could not be reached for comment.