Building granted a reprieve
THE chances of century-old Building 5 avoiding demolition rose last week after the Auckland City Council granted it category B heritage status.
While the status doesn’t fully protect the building from the wrecker’s ball, heritage campaigner Helen Geary says it is a step in the right direction.
The Auckland District Health Board has resource consent to demolish the building at the Greenlane Clinical Centre, but that decision has been appealed by Ms Geary and is now subject to an Environment Court hearing.
Ms Geary says the board’s decision to restore the neigh- bouring Costley Block, which also has category B protection, undermines its position on Building 5.
“The ADHB should make the pragmatic decision to restore them both in a heritage precinct. They are both on the extreme north-eastern corner of the Greenlane site, with little impact on the rest of the site and any future development.”
Ms Geary hopes the council’s decision will help change the board’s mind, with more money set to be spent on legal fees if an Environment Court hearing goes ahead.
“It will be a huge waste of taxpayers’ money. I’m prepared to take it right to the end.”
Mayor John Banks con- gratulated Ms Geary on her work to save Building 5 at the council meeting.
“Standing apart is not easy, it can be quite lonely and expensive. It’s got to run the gauntlet of the Environment Court process.”
Mr Banks said his mother spent the last five years of her life at Building 5 as many elderly women did in the 1960s and 70s and it had special meaning for him.
Auckland District Health Board general counsel Bruce Northey says he’s not surprised by the council’s decision, which the board will discuss at its meeting next month.
He says the board will have to decide whether to ditch its bid for demolition or go to the Environment Court to try to focus more on core services rather than heritage issues.
The battle to save Building 5 began after staff from the Greenlane Clinical Centre raised concerns in 2007.
Confusion over the build- ing’s heritage status has also reigned since 2007, with council officers initially awarding it 53 points, three above the 50 point category B threshold.
In 2008 the council dropped the number of points to 49 after further information suggested it was constructed in 1917 rather than 1915.
But the three council commissioners agreed with a further reassessment in February that gave Building 5 51 points after fresh evidence showed it was built in 1907.
Ms Geary’s appeal is on hold until the board decides how to proceed.
Mr Northey says a date at the Environment Court could be set near the end of the year.
Lifeline: Greenlane Clinical Centre’s Building 5 has been awarded a category B status.