Dunedin's Princes St could be in line for a facelift
after a Christchurch developer won a six-year battle to
demolish a group of buildings inside a protected townscape.
Luke Dirkzwager, of Prista Apartments, has been granted
Environment Court approval to demolish the buildings at
372-392 Princes St and 11 Stafford St, making way for a
mixed-use retail and apartment development.
However, three of the buildings' four facades have been
spared the wrecking ball, and would instead form a section of
the new development, as part of a compromise with heritage
That would mean the retention of the facades at 380, 386 and
392 Princes St, while the buildings behind them - dating back
to between the 1860s and 1913 - would be demolished.
The largest building, at 372-378 Princes St, would be removed
with its facade, despite dating back to 1879.
Details of the deal were contained in an Environment Court
consent order agreed to by all parties, made public
yesterday. It ends a long-running battle over the development
dating back to 2008.
Mr Dirkzwager is overseas and could not be reached yesterday
for comment about a start date, but the revised consent
approved by the court gave him until 2021 to advance the
Heritage advocate Peter Entwisle, who was involved in
negotiations over the project, said he had been told the
development was unlikely to proceed for at least five years.
Mr Dirkzwager was now said to be busy with other projects in
Christchurch, and had sought an extended consent deadline, Mr
While welcoming the decision to spare three of the facades,
Mr Entwisle was disappointed some of the city's original Gold
Rush-era buildings would be lost.
''In terms of heritage there's a big loss ... This is the
original townscape that had survived almost intact,'' he
However, Heritage New Zealand Otago-Southland area manager
Jonathan Howard described the deal as a ''reasonable
outcome'' after his organisation pushed to protect all four
The loss of buildings would damage heritage values in the
area, but the development would also help stimulate the area,
''Clearly, there's a lot of heritage value and a lot of
history in that area . . . [but] buildings need to be viable
to have a future.''
The deal ended a long-running debate that began when Mr
Dirkzwager first sought to demolish the buildings completely
The outcry that followed did not stop the Dunedin City
Council's hearings committee granting consent for the project
in 2010, but the then-New Zealand Historic Places Trust - now
Heritage New Zealand - appealed.
Mr Entwisle and another heritage advocate, Elizabeth Kerr,
joined the Environment Court proceedings. The parties
eventually began a protracted round of negotiations in
mid-2013, in an attempt to avoid a court hearing, leading to
The court's revised consent required the facades being
retained, together with the nearby category one-listed Empire
Tavern, to be protected during demolition.
However, it also allowed the new buildings behind the facades
to exceed the maximum height limit for the zone.
Christchurch-based architect Stewart Ross, a director of
Fulton Ross Team Architects, who worked on the retention of
the facades for Mr Dirkzwager, said the compromise was needed
to protect heritage values while ensuring the development was
It would have been ''very difficult'' to build a viable new
building behind the facade of the biggest building, at
372-378 Princes St, he said.
''It's always a trade-off. If you want to get a developer in
to regenerate and do a bit of work, if you make it too
difficult of course they're going to walk away.''
The compromise was ''probably about the best outcome''.