Building 5 fight goes on
A COURTROOM stoush is brewing between the Auckland District Health Board and the Auckland City Council over the fate of a centuryold hospital building.
The health board is preparing an appeal to the Environment Court over a council move to grant Building 5, located at the Greenlane Clinical Centre, category B heritage protection.
Mayor John Banks can’t understand why the board is pursuing the issue.
“I’m very surprised that they would have the spare cash to be able to fund rich and powerful lawyers on these matters,” he says.
“It’s a great insult to all of those hard-working people on the hospital waiting list.
“At the end of the day the citizens of Auckland will not appreciate the arrogance of these people in their pursuit of the wanton destruction of this building.”
The council’s three independent commissioners granted the building 51 points, putting it above the 50 point threshold to qualify for protection, in a decision that was ratified by the council last month.
Previously Building 5 had been assessed at 53 and 49 points because of confusion about its age.
Mr Banks says he’s reluctant to spend ratepayers’ money “defending the indefensible”, but believes the council doesn’t have a choice.
“We have wrecked with the ball and chain so much of our past, it is time to say: ‘No more’.”
But board chairman Pat Snedden says the future healthcare needs of Auckland should take priority.
“We just think the commissioners made the wrong decision,” he says.
“Building 5 actually doesn’t meet the requirements for provision of healthcare.”
Mr Snedden says a lack of room to develop at its Grafton site means it needs the flexibility to be able to demolish Building 5 and expand at Greenlane.
“The new government has said it wants more services provided to the population with more convenience and less cost.
“They’re very clear about the increasing levels of serv- ices we’re going to have to utilise.”
He says the board has already shown its commitment to maintaining heritage sites through a decision to refurbish Building 5’s neighbour, the turn-of-the-century Costley Block.
“We draw the line at Building 5 and still do.”
The health board also has to deal with an appeal from heritage campaigner Helen Geary that seeks to overturn a demolition order they have to get rid of the building.
Ms Geary wouldn’t comment because the board wants the Environment Court to merge her appeal with its own.
Heritage consultant Allan Matson, who argued for Building 5’s retention at the commissioners’ hearing, believes the court will agree that it should be retained as a heritage building.
Mr Matson says he sees the potential for a high-rise hospital extension behind a refurbished Costley Block and Building 5.
Mr Snedden hopes the Environment Court will hear the appeal by the end of the year.