The Dominion Post
Heritage grants a saviour
Increasing numbers of heritage building owners are tapping into money from the Government’s Heritage Earthquake Upgrade Incentive Programme, known as Equip.
As well as providing grants for work, owners are now also eligible for professional advice grants, to provide up to half the costs of seismic assessments, conservation reports, and architectural and structural engineering plans.
About $6 million from a fund of $12m has been given out, and a spokesman for Heritage Equip said the number of applicants had doubled in the latest funding round, which has just closed.
A recent grant of $100,000 to Geoff Wylde and Jenny Smith helped them strengthen their heritage building in Jackson St, Petone, which they bought in 2015.
After the 2016 Hurunui/ Kaiko¯ura earthquakes, Hutt City Council issued the Smiths with a notice to secure street-facing unreinforced masonry. Since then they have restored the facade and exterior street fronts and extended the rear of the building.
They installed portal frames for bracing, a new roof diaphragm to increase rigidity and restrain the brick walls and parapets, and strengthened brick walls.
Other buildings to benefit have included the Hurunui Hotel in North Canterbury, AE Kitchen building in Whanganui, 204 Hardy St in Nelson, Gallates building and National Tobacco Company building in Napier, and the Pumphouse in Christchurch, to name a few.
Ryan Johnson, of Bayleys Real Estate, said the professional advice grants were a boon. ‘‘Strengthening of earthquake-prone buildings comes with targeted timelines, which can have implications for bank lending and rent.’’
Johnson said owners of commercial heritage properties in the regions faced special challenges, with lower rental income and capital values. ‘‘This often doesn’t justify upgrade expenses, and there can also be a local shortage of professional advice,’’ Johnson said.
‘‘Regional centres with high concentrations of heritage buildings and medium or high seismic risk, such as Napier and Invercargill, look particularly well poised to benefit from the funding, and building owners are urged to investigate whether they qualify.’’
The grants were launched in 2016 and more than 22 projects have been supported, with increasing numbers in each application round.
Earlier this year Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Grant Robertson announced the additional professional advice grants. Regional building owners could apply for up to 67 per cent of upgrade costs.
Manatu¯ Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, which administers the grants, is also establishing pilot schemes with local authorities.
Applications for Heritage Equip funding are accepted three times a year, with announcements expected soon about the latest recipients.
Detailed information along with advice for building owners is available at heritageequip.govt.nz.
In May, Robertson announced grants to 10 heritage buildings to a total of $958,962.
As part of a large restoration project, $250,000 was awarded to help strengthen the former Chief Post Office in Christchurch, one of Cathedral Square’s oldest buildings and a category 1 historic place.
About $116,490 was given grants for professional advice.
The buildings benefiting from the money were category 2 historic places in regional centres, including the Masonic Hotel in Cambridge, whose owners have been awarded $36,900 to help them commission detailed structural and architectural designs. Other recent grants went to Poppelwells Building in Hastings ($50,000); former Kilwinning Lodge, Lyttelton ($150,000); 131 Jackson St, Petone, Lower Hutt ($100,000); Berry Building, Cuba St, Wellington ($42,472); and Jubilee Hall, Parnell, Auckland ($250,000). Property Council chief executive Leonie Freeman said the incentives were a positive step towards protecting history. in