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Sections of the Building Act could be used to protect Dunedin's at-risk heritage buildings from demolition by neglect.
The issue of how the Dunedin City Council can encourage owners of the city's most threatened heritage buildings to improve their properties was raised during the planning and environment committee meeting on Monday.
Committee chairman Cr David Benson-Pope said he had already asked council staff to investigate the possibility of using parts of the act to charge owners whose buildings were encroaching on public space.
He hoped they would be able to report back at the next committee meeting.
It is in part a response to the council's new heritage monitoring programme, which found 24 heritage buildings in the city considered to be at risk of loss.
A similar approach is set to be used in Christchurch.
From August, the Christchurch City Council plans to charge owners of 13 derelict properties for barriers and scaffolding installed on public spaces such as footpaths.
Cr Benson-Pope said there were also other ``tools'' the council could use to encourage those building owners, which would be explored by the rates and funding advisory panel.
``It's clear to me, that when you're in a chip shop and someone comes up to you and says lets do something about these neglected buildings, there's a fair amount of public support out there for these type of approaches.''
Council heritage planner Dan Windwood said the council would now meet the owners of the most at-risk buildings to discuss what could be done to improve them.
Mr Windwood said he hoped there would also be more attention given to heritage properties outside the central city, which had not always been the case.
Cr Aaron Hawkins asked if property owners who talked to the council about their plans or applied for a consent would have their buildings taken off the at-risk list.
Just acting on an already approved consent or applying for a new one would not be enough for some of the most at-risk buildings to be removed, Mr Windwood said.
``They run the risk of the building further degrading if nothing is done, and just applying for a consent or acting on a old consent wouldn't be enough for some of these buildings.''
Of the 774 buildings and structures assessed by the council only 88 were considered to be vulnerable or at risk, which showed most of the city's heritage buildings were well cared for, he said.