Carisbrook gets national heritage status

Carisbrook was one of two Dunedin landmarks given national recognition today by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT), but the move will not enhance protection of either one.

Along with the Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute, the city's international sports ground got board approval for a Category 1 registration status.

Trust Otago/Southland area manager Owen Graham said the move underlined the importance both sites had in Dunedin's heritage.

"Carisbrook is about 100-years-old and has worldwide recognition as a sporting venue.

"It's as much a part of our city as the university, the statue of Robbie Burns, and the magnificent railway station."

The Athenaeum, which opened in 1870 in The Octagon, is one of the oldest surviving main centre athenaeums still used for its original purpose -- providing educational instruction through a library -- in New Zealand.

Carisbrook's registration extended primarily to the playing field and the single-storey Turnstile Building below the Neville St Stand.

Plans are under way to build a new stadium at Awatea St which will take over from Carisbrook's historic role.

Mr Graham said that given Carisbrook's heritage value and iconic status as a sports ground, alternative re-development options such as creating a public reserve area merited full discussion.

"There is significant scope for sympathetic re-development," Mr Graham said.

"Although the needs and pressures facing Carisbrook's owner might result in change to its existing use, it is important to the community that Carisbrook's character is retained for the benefit of generations to come."

Mr Graham said NZHPT registrations did not offer any protection to Carisbrook or the Athenaeum.

"Protection comes when local authorities take the lead and list registered buildings on their district plans.

"That's a challenge I would like the Dunedin City Council to take up as the public and council look at future options and uses for both the historic ground and the Octagon landmark."

The city council earlier provided submissions opposing the proposal to register both landmarks as Category 1 historic places.

Central to the council's opposition was that scheduling of Carisbrook would be likely to "curtail future redevelopment opportunities at the site".

Mr Graham said the trust considered the council's submissions but went ahead with the registration.

The registration had nothing to do with any new stadium proposals, he said.

"It has a lot to do with the physicality of the place and significance of the place to people."