I live in Thorndon. Wonderful place to live. I recall a few months ago a glossy brochure from the Council on how they wanted to help protect Thorndon heritage and protect some homes. It all sounded wonderful.
The nice glossy brochure forgot to mention that:
The council’s preferred heritage proposal would prevent Thorndon residents changing the exteriors of their homes without resource consent, including adding items such as skylights, decks or extra windows, which did not previously need consent.
It may even stop you changing your letterbox I am told!
Public law specialist Chen Palmer criticised the council saying:
It gave “insufficient information” about how current rules were working and did not justify why the proposed changes were necessary.
Its heritage planner had been “unwilling or unable” to discuss other options when asked to.
Oral and written consultation misled people about the impact of the changes.
Too bloody right. I don’t still have the glossy pamphlet but did not gain that impression at all.
Thorndon Residents Association spokeswoman Jo Freeman said many residents favoured a compromise. “As long as it doesn’t affect the streetscape you should be allowed to do whatever you want at the back or the side of your house.”
More red tape could lead to residents, already frustrated by stalled resource consents, abandoning the suburb, she said.
“I’ve had a number of people say, `If it comes in, we will move. We can’t live in our houses with our families the way they are now.’ It could result in a sort of a ghetto in Thorndon.”
Architect and Thorndon resident Roger Walker said he expected any heritage area decision to be challenged in court. In Auckland, blanket rules against demolishing pre-1940 houses in suburbs such as Remuera and Ponsonby were relaxed after a challenge by residents.
The Council is proposing actual zones, rather than identifying individual houses of significant heritage. And we see below what a nightmare they can be:
A Thorndon mother, fighting for two years to restore an 1883 home, says it highlights the pitfalls of protection.
She and her husband bought the house five years ago and plan to revamp it. “It won’t be that modern. We want people to walk into the house … to believe it’s always been like that. We’re just trying to drag it into the 21st century.”
The roof leaks, walls are not insulated, water drips from the bathroom to the kitchen, and light switches “sizzle”. Wellington City Council put a heritage listing on the house two years ago, preventing alterations to the outside till heritage planners approved them.
“It’s emotionally draining. We’ve had to compromise … to the point where the pleasure in doing up the house is gone.”
Delays have been frustrating but the council has charged only the initial resource consent fee. There is also a council heritage fund that can pay for some work.
However, the couple say council planners were inconsistent and delays had cost up to $100,000.
“When we tried to revert the windows to their original 1883 look, one heritage adviser said that would be no problem, but then another came along and … insisted that we keep the 1930s windows.”
They wanted to add windows, and were told they must be different from existing ones.
You can only feel sorry for them.