Her­itage un­der at­tack

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

SOME of Auck­land’s most el­e­gant her­itage build­ings are un­der at­tack af­ter thou­sands of ap­pli­ca­tions to cut pro­tec­tive mea­sures from coun­cil plan­ning laws.

Hous­ing New Zealand made more than 10,000 points in its sub­mis­sion to the pro­posed uni­tary plan to delete her­itage, height and view­shaft re­stric­tions from its Auck­land prop­er­ties.

And her­itage buffs fear re­sult­ing de­vel­op­ments could de­stroy the char­ac­ter of the in­ner city.

One build­ing in ques­tion is the Brook­lyn build­ing on Emily Place, built in 1929 and reg­is­tered with Her­itage New Zealand as a cat­e­gory 2 historic place.

Hous­ing New Zealand only owns one unit in the 49-apart­ment art deco build­ing but wants the her­itage con­di­tions, which re­strict devel­op­ment or de­mo­li­tion, re­moved from the lot.

It is ‘‘spec­tac­u­larly un­neigh­bourly’’, Brook­lyn body cor­po­rate chair­man Chris Hart says.

‘‘It seems they [Hous­ing New Zealand] are us­ing a can­non type of ap­proach when what they re­ally need is a sniper ap­proach. They’ve made a huge num­ber of sub­mis­sions at­tack­ing many things that peo­ple in the Auck­land city area feel make it a worth­while place.

‘‘We are in one of the old­est parts of Auck­land.’’

Hart has owned his Brook­lyn apart­ment for more than 25 years and says it is worth pre­serv­ing.

Apart­ment own­ers in the build­ing have spent a lot of money to main­tain its her­itage sta­tus, he says, and Hous­ing New Zealand needs to re­think its view­point and back off its ‘‘ag­gres­sive stance’’.

‘‘I think their aims are good in want­ing to house as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble but they’ve gone about it wrong.

‘‘To say ‘ we want to pull down all the her­itage build­ings’, shows a lack of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity or mis­guided so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity at the least.’’

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board mem­ber Ver­non Tava says the cen­tral city and fringe ar­eas have been hit hard by the Hous­ing New Zealand sub­mis­sions.

The board’s patch in­cludes most of Auck­land’s her­itage homes and the world’s largest col­lec­tion of Vic­to­rian wooden houses, he says.

The board sup­ports the need to in­ten­sify but it is im­por­tant not to throw away the city’s her­itage in the process, Tava says.

‘‘We are see­ing an as­sault on her­itage from all sides at the mo­ment.

‘‘We’re not try­ing to pre­serve ev­ery­thing, we’re not try­ing to freeze time, but wip­ing out the past and start­ing again is an ir­re­spon­si­ble ap­proach.

‘‘There’s no rea­son we can’t have both.’’

Auck­land cen­tral-based Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern says the num­ber of Hous­ing New Zealand sub­mis­sions is wor­ry­ing.

Many of the res­i­dents in af­fected build­ings were not even aware of the bid to re­move re­stric­tions, she says.

‘‘The area for a long time has been bat­tling to en­sure we have the right pro­tec­tions in place for char­ac­ter build- ings. For Hous­ing New Zealand to pep­per-pot around the com­mu­nity and say ‘these rules don’t ap­ply to us’ just doesn’t seem right.’’

A Hous­ing New Zealand spokesman says the sub­mis­sions are de­signed to ad­vo­cate for a ‘‘more nim­ble’’ plan­ning frame­work.

The idea is not to strip Auck­land of its cul­tural iden­tity but to en­cour­age a plan that en­ables in­no­va­tive de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture that builds on Auck­land’s his­tory, he says.

The com­pany owns at least 2100 prop­er­ties that were built be­fore 1944 which are pro­tected from de­mo­li­tion or sub­di­vi­sion.

Hous­ing New Zealand has no spe­cific plans for the Brook­lyn build­ing, he says.

‘‘Hous­ing New Zealand has not made its sub­mis­sion seek­ing to re­move over­lays from prop­er­ties for the pur­pose of sell­ing them,’’ the spokesman says.

‘‘Our over­all ap­proach to man­ag­ing our prop­er­ties sup­ports our pri­or­ity of pro­vid­ing the right prop­er­ties, of the right size in the right places to meet de­mand.’’

Worth sav­ing: Brook­lyn body cor­po­rate chair­man Chris Hart says the build­ing is an ar­chi­tec­tural gem.

Pho­tos: LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

Real treasure: The art deco Brook­lyn build­ing on Emily Place was built in 1929.

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