Demolition of the Bethany Centre is well under way, dashing hopes that the former home for vulnerable mothers could be saved.
The building at 35 Dryden St in Grey Lynn was a Salvation Armyrun maternity hospital for unmarried women for almost 100 years before shutting its doors.
Its owners say the closure last year was due to the changing needs of the community and the high cost of maintaining the two-storey villa.
The property was purchased in May by developer Cameron Ireland Builders.
The Auckland City Harbour News ran an article about the centre in June when Mr Ireland lodged a resource consent application with Auckland Council to subdivide the site for five new houses.
Mr Ireland said at the time that he was not looking to demolish the house and had found a man who was going to relocate it to Albany.
Mr Ireland says the deal fell through because the new owner couldn’t get approval from the council to put new site.
‘‘Basically we tried to give it away but it didnt work out so now it’s being recycled,’’ he says.
A council spokeswoman says Mr Ireland does not need consent to knock down the centre because it is in a residential 5 zone in the district plan.
She says council officers confirmed the building didn’t qualify
it on the for special heritage protection.
‘‘The developer has said he will build homes that are compatible with the area,’’ she says.
Western Bays Community Group chairman Geoff Houtman is appalled by the outcome.
‘‘It’s a disgrace. It just shows a failure in heritage protection and in the planning department. That was a landmark you could see all over Auckland and now it’s gone.’’
Mr Houtman says the plans for the site don’t fit in with the Auckland Plan’s focus on higher density housing.
‘‘The average section around there is 400 square metres and here they are letting someone build sections that are 500sqm or more in size. What is the council actually trying to do – increase density or not?’’
Coming down: The historic Bethany Centre is being demolished to make room for five new houses.