City councillors will this week discuss how much the
council should get involved in financial incentives for
upgrading and restoring large-scale significant historic
Dunedin buildings, such as the former King Edward Technical
College in Stuart St. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
An ''iconic projects fund'' to provide large injections
of council funding to a ''top-10'' list of large-scale heritage
projects in Dunedin has been mooted by Dunedin City Council
Annual funding in the order of $2 million has been suggested
to assist ''icon projects'' such as the restoration or re-use
of churches, cathedrals or religious buildings, theatres,
prisons or former industrial city buildings.
Council funding would often be granted to match other
community, national, and private funding. The new fund would
be complemented by increases in funding for heritage
restoration and re-use incentive schemes.
The option is raised in a report on the sustainability of the
council's heritage incentive funding, to be considered during
the 2014-15 budget discussions beginning this week.
In it, council policy planner (heritage) Glen Hazelton says
the council's heritage building restoration and re-use
incentive funds have become stretched as more people apply
for more funds.
The current incentives provided by the council were
insufficient to assist large-scale projects such as churches,
cathedrals or community hubs, like the former King Edward
Technical College, although the loss of such buildings
''would also be inconceivable to the fabric and community of
The council incentivises heritage building restoration and
re-use in the city through its heritage fund, rates relief,
area-based heritage re-use grants and targeted rates for
In the past five years, $724,000 has been granted from the
heritage fund for 65 projects. In the same period, some 23
projects have received rates relief, often in conjunction
with heritage fund grants, totalling more than $200,000 in
About $160,000 in heritage re-use grants has been provided
for 17 projects in the warehouse precinct and six in Princes
St since 2012-13.
No-one has applied for the targeted rates scheme since it was
introduced the same year.
Dr Hazelton said the incentives had created a positive
environment for private sector heritage restoration, re-use
and upgrade, and a surprising amount had taken place, despite
continued regulatory uncertainty and Dunedin's low growth.
The result of the increased activity, however, was pressure
on the council's heritage incentive budgets.
Four options for sustaining heritage upgrades were presented
They could: return to earlier budgets, dropping the
area-based re-use grants; maintain the level of incentives
(including area-based re-use grants); increase the allocation
to incentive schemes or put in place a more comprehensive
heritage incentives approach, increasing the incentive
budgets and introducing the ''iconic projects fund''.
The latter option could also be co-ordinated with targeted
area-based funding schemes, or to a public safety scheme,
such as co-ordinated parapets and facade strengthening in
high-pedestrian areas, such as George St or Lower Stuart St.
The ''top 10'' buildings would have to be decided.
Heritage incentives were not about attempting to save every
old building in Dunedin, Dr Hazelton said.
''They are about encouraging the re-use and protection of
Dunedin's heritage-listed buildings and sufficient numbers of
those other historic or character contributing buildings in
key precincts to ensure Dunedin's distinct ''look and feel''
is protected into the future.''