Older buildings, including the empty former Furniture Court
building (left) and the empty former Tai Ping restaurant
building (right). Photos by Peter McIntosh.
The Dunedin City Council is planning to target the owners
of dilapidated heritage buildings in the city to stop
''demolition by neglect'' and encourage ''unco-operative''
owners to fix up their properties.
It says it has put ''substantial effort'' into encouraging
the re-use of heritage buildings, using ''carrots rather than
sticks'', but it is now searching for ways to take a more
active approach in using powers it has.
It will next week consider its options for dealing with such
building owners, from better using the Building Act in
relation to insanitary buildings, to creating a register, or,
at the most extreme, imposing financial penalties.
The Otago Chamber of Commerce says the proposal is something
it will ''follow with interest'', as owners are often dealing
with the economic reality of buildings that lose money.
A report by acting urban design team leader Glen Hazelton to
Tuesday's planning and regulatory committee meeting said
preserving the city's architectural inheritance and character
was a key part of the city's goal of being one of the best
small cities in the world.
The council had put plenty of work into helping owners.
''However, not all owners are so positively predisposed or
respond positively to incentivisation.''
Dr Hazelton said in the report it was sometimes argued
demolishing undermaintained buildings and replacing them with
open-air car parks had positive effects for amenity and
But over the long term those spaces did not look good or
encourage economic activity.
Of the heritage buildings granted consent for demolition
since 2009 - the Garrison Hall in Port Chalmers, the
Brocklebanks building in South Dunedin, 372-398 Princes St,
the Butterworth building, Bank of Australasia, the Barrons
Building, the N. and E. S. Patterson Building, and the Dainty
Dairy - only Brocklebanks had been replaced by a new
The Rattray St and Princes St buildings clearly showed ''the
results of insufficient maintenance and the cycle of
''Although the area is within a townscape precinct, the
existing protections and management of heritage buildings
have proved insufficient to halt or reverse the decline.''
Dr Hazelton's report raised the possibility of financial
penalties for building owners neglecting properties, but said
there were disadvantages.
Instead, it suggested developing a register of at-risk
heritage buildings to provide an inventory of sites, and
track them annually.
As well, legal advice showed there might be potential for a
stronger approach to Building Act provisions relating to
Those could be used for ''a more proactive approach'', and
''potentially a notice requiring work''.
Yesterday, he said he expected ''a lively debate'' on the
issue on Tuesday.
Dr Hazelton said a register was something the council would
Building owners' names would not be included, though the
information was available on the council's rating database.
The list was not intended to be a ''name and shame'' list.
Instead, it would highlight the buildings that needed work
done, and possibly lead to positive moves to fix them up.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said along
with legislation on earthquake-proofing, any new rules could
force owners to walk away from their buildings with no
''That's where we get demolition by neglect.''
Mr Christie said the city needed to find a way to grow the
economy so buildings would be re-used.
However, there was ''no magic wand'' to make that happen.
Lion spokeswoman Judy Walter said Lion owned the former
Furniture Court building next to the Speight's Brewery in
Rattray St and had no plans to redevelop it.
Lion had not been contacted by the council about the building
and would not comment until it had, she said.
Property owner Lincoln Darling said the council could issue
fines up to $200,000 for non-compliance but it was often
difficult to legislate, especially when there were ''economic
issues involved and a raft of different landlords''.
• Change District Plan to encourage better
management of heritage buildings.
• Stricter application of Building Act
• Develop bylaws with minimum
• Develop a heritage at-risk register.
• Financial penalties.
• Do nothing.
Demolition of neglect effects
• Erodes heritage streetscapes.
• Reduces quality of Dunedin's ''look and
• Presents appearance of ''city in
• Promotes vandalism and crime.
• Risk to public safety.
• Reduces value of neighbouring buildings.
• Discourages investment in area.
• Encourages businesses to move from area.
Source: Dunedin City Council