Auckland Council 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
The radical change follows highly publicised cases such as 18
Paget St, Freemans Bay, where a planning officer who opposed
demolition was replaced by a consultant who supported it.
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.
Auckland deputy mayor Penny Hulse yesterday said the
demolition rules were being considered as part of the new
unitary plan, or rulebook for the city. She said there was
support for the changes in council, but they had to be put in
context with plans for intensification.
The proposal also follows a visit to Auckland this week by
Peter Marquis-Kyle, a conservation architect who helped
develop the heritage protection regime in Brisbane. He met
councillors, officers and the Character Coalition of nearly
50 heritage and community groups. Mr Marquis-Kyle said the
default position in Brisbane was that old houses would remain
and not be demolished willy-nilly.
"Instead of having to argue for the protection of an
individual house it becomes a position of arguing why a
particular house should be allowed to be demolished," he
In Brisbane houses had to be badly mutilated or unsound to
face demolition and the public had a say.
The Character Coalition has been lobbying the council to
adopt Brisbane's heritage provisions as a starting point for
Spokeswoman Sally Hughes said Auckland politicians should
accept the need for blanket protection of heritage and
character areas and place the onus on owners to prove why a
house could not be saved.
"The sky didn't fall in when Brisbane did this. It looked
like a huge big deal back in 1993 but now it looks like it
was the sensible thing to do."
Councillor Sandra Coney, who chairs the council's political
and independent heritage forums, said the council had been
tying itself in knots over an irresolvable clash between
heritage and intensification.
The proposed blanket ban on demolition was a positive step to
provide a way forward between the two.
The council hasn't set any cut-off date for a ban. Options
include 1940 and 1944.
- Bernard Orsman, New Zealand Herald