Auckland Council heritage rules

November 28th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Bernard Orsman at NZ Herald reports:

The is considering a region-wide ban on demolishing tens of thousands of heritage and character homes unless owners can prove they are beyond repair.

The proposed new rules are based on the Brisbane model and would apply to all pre-World War II houses. Unlike now, every application to demolish or remove a house would be publicly notified.

This is nuts. There is a difference between heritage and old. Just because a house is more than 70 years old does not make it a heritage house.

The rules would apply to 23,344 houses in the existing character zones of the inner city suburbs, Devonport, Birkenhead and Northcote, plus thousands more pre-World War II houses being identified in other parts of the city.

This is a massive theft from existing home owners. Suddenly their houses are not their property. The Council should buy the 23,000 houses if they really think they are of heritage value.

A blanket rule making every pre WWII house a heritage building is just the Council being lazy. Heritage buildings should be identified on a case by case basis and should have some special character about them.

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17 Responses to “Auckland Council heritage rules”

  1. scrubone (3,097 comments) says:

    Sound a lot like the tree thing.

    Say, how many trees are still in Auckland now that the goverment stoped that stupidity. I seem to recall predictions that Auckland should be down to about 10 trees by now.

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  2. Bed Rater (239 comments) says:

    A non-blanket rule prohibiting anyone doing anything to their own property (“heritage” or not) would still be fucking awful.

    You and your compromises.

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  3. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    Councils ,all over the country are out of touch and out of control.

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  4. James Stephenson (2,268 comments) says:

    So let me check I understand this correctly. Old houses can’t be knocked down or moved unless they’re already knackered, but detached homes on largish sections aren’t sustainable because we need increase the density of Auckland’s housing to make Len’s train fetish viable?

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  5. alex Masterley (1,538 comments) says:

    The AC is utterly stupid.

    Whoever came up with this idea should give themselves an uppercut. It will limit urban renewal and leave the inner city looking like a 2nd rate museum.

    I live in a house built about 1920. It is not a heritage house. It was built off the plans by a spec builder as most were. It’s only virtue is that it is inner city.

    Most of the villas and bungalows in Ponsonby, Grey Lyn, Kingsland Sandringham and Mt Eden were built like that. Also most of those villas and bungalows have been attacked and bastardised by interior designers and architects with so many additions, and extensions that the original house is buried in a sea of bland.

    An example is Burnley Terrace which is supposed to be an heritage street.

    There are no houses in their original state in that street at (all apart from one) which is falling down. Why should they be preserved.

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  6. Reid (16,739 comments) says:

    Yep this policy won’t last. Far too many wealthy people negatively affected. Which idiot mid-level manager decided to float this madness. I bet he’s standing in the CEO’s office right now.

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  7. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    Well said DPF.

    RRM was a fan of heritage buildings policy, until the Chch earthquakes brought the fallacy of it all into sharp relief for me.

    What we have been doing is a slap in the face of private property owners, telling them what they must and must not do with their buildings.

    Meanwhile, the heritage buildings nonsense has failed to save what is surely the #1 pre-eminent heritage building in all of NZ – The Christ Church Cathedral – and a whole lot of second-equal buildings e.g. the time ball station, from destruction in the Chch earthquakes.

    So what we have been doing clearly does not function satisfactorily.

    Govt should decide what buildings are so important to our cultural heritage that they **MUST** be preserved, and then buy them, and where necessary strengthen them to a very high standard to ensure they really will endure.

    Then the owners of all other old buildings should be set free to maintain, develop or demolish them as they see fit.

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  8. Simon Lyall (60 comments) says:

    A suggestion I read was the there should be a fixed number (or perhaps percentage) of heritage buildings. If the council wants to protect a new one then they have to remove an another one off the list.

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  9. campit (467 comments) says:

    Heritage buildings should be identified on a case by case basis and should have some special character about them.

    Except I think what the Council are after is the preservation of entire neighbourhoods – hence the phrase “character zones”. I think there is some value in that – the effect adds value to the neighbourhood. For instance there are many streets in Auckland where all the houses date from a certain period – 1900’s, 1930 bungalows etc, and to allow every second or third house to be replaced with a totally different architecture ruins the appeal.

    Note that most renovations, for instance in Ponsonby or Westmere, voluntarily preserve the look of the neighbourhood, at their own cost.

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  10. barry (1,191 comments) says:

    This is why the local government act needs to return councils to their basic functions.

    We have in hamilton the council suddenly deciding that all new houses must “have the garage no nearer the road than the rest of the house, the front door must face the road, there must be a window (of some specified size) facing the road and the line of sight from the road to the house must be clear!!!!!

    In other words – the garage must be around the back of ther house (as most sections are too small to have it beside the house.)

    the plan is to stop burglaries (thats NOT a tui billboard joke)

    But they forgot how many children used to get run over when garages are around the back.

    And also half the houses havd to face away from the sun

    Idiots.

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  11. Colville (2,318 comments) says:

    This concept is pure bullshit.
    It would be value theft on a vast scale.
    Any attempt to change the District Plans (s?) to write in this rule would have 20,000 affected parties oppose it and ask for compensation.

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  12. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    I grew up in New England, where rules like this abound. In my old home town there was a Historical Homes Commission that was allowed to make rules on how you could paint your house, decorate it etc. If your house was built pre-1900 they had power over you. Owners of such homes couldn’t make additions without approvals, nevermind actually tearing one of them down. Other towns with more history were even stricter. As a historian I like the idea of preserving old houses, but as a libertarian the idea of the govt imposing such rules puts me off. Decisions about whether a house is truly historic and in what cases that should prevent demolition should be made on a case by case basis.

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  13. gazzmaniac (2,306 comments) says:

    20 litres of petrol would get rid of a “character” house, and the demolition would be significantly cheaper since a dozen firefighters on site for half a day costs less than builders there for a month.
    It’s too late to do anything about it once you’ve already burned it ;-)

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  14. Steve (North Shore) (4,538 comments) says:

    Goodbye Len. Another nail

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  15. Aidy (7 comments) says:

    Settle down people. The Herald has sensationalised this, as has our host. This rule would just require each demolition in the designated areas to be considered on its individual merits. Some may get declined, I’m guessing most would not. Just like for trees, an example mentioned above.

    As for the council being lazy, the real reason why we are going to get rules like this in the unitary plan is because of the insistence on a ridiculous timeframe by the central government to have it completed. The council is not being given time to do the job any better.

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  16. Anthony (768 comments) says:

    I was looking out towards Ponsonby from the inner city recently and thinking there was a lot of room there for Auckland to add some more higher density housing. The gentrified Villa is surely a bit passe by now?

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  17. thedavincimode (6,890 comments) says:

    The council is not being given time to do the job any better.

    Thanks for clearing that up Len.

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