Proposal risks heritage ‘streetscapes’

The 103-year-old Edmund Anscombe-designed house in Stuart St.  Photo: Supplied / Southern...
The 103-year-old Edmund Anscombe-designed house in Stuart St. Photo: Supplied / Southern Heritage Trust
A Dunedin heritage building owner has called for the Dunedin City Council not to lose entire "streetscapes" of heritage.

Ted Daniels spoke to the DCC at its public forum this week about a proposal to knock down a 103-year-old Edmund Anscombe-designed house in Stuart St, and a protected 100-year-old tree beside it.

The applicant, Elim Group, proposes to replace the building and tree with 30 inner-city apartments.

"If you took a heritage building away, it’s worse than taking a tree away, but the fact of the matter is the tree has more protections because it’s heritage listed," Mr Daniels said.

Special character buildings that were not heritage-listed were liable to be demolished and not replaced with something that fitted the area.

"We have to ensure areas do not lose their special charm. Heritage buildings and streetscapes should be notified resource consents.

"The community needs to have the ability to have their say."

Mr Daniels, who has maintained several heritage buildings, told the Otago Daily Times there were no "instant solutions" to protecting these buildings.

He worried about many such buildings being left unoccupied.

"In the past councils have not been very good at looking at streetscapes.

"Having buildings of special character taken away affects the broader character of the area. You see it happening a lot in the suburbs."

Councils should also make it easier for people to earthquake strengthen heritage buildings, and not have such long lead times to do it.

"A lot of the earthquake-prone buildings [in Dunedin] have 35-year lead times for earthquake strengthening.

"It’s not a good look to have these buildings with signs saying they are earthquake-prone for years and years, especially if you’re entertaining a visitor from Christchurch."

The DCC has received 92 submissions on Elim Group’s proposal - 88 against it, three in favour and one neutral.

Submissions closed last Thursday.

Submitter Sean Laing, a builder and project manager, supported the proposal, and said it would bring much-needed housing to the city.

"We are in a time where clean, dry, efficient housing is in very short supply.

"If the applicant were successful it would enable the developer to add numerous housing spaces built to a high standard within the central city area."

The failing retaining wall would require replacement at some point as it was already at the end of its intended service life, the submission said.

"It is clear that this tree will not survive into the extended future in any sense.

"It would be a shame if people or property were harmed because of the wellbeing of an unsightly tree."

A hearing has been scheduled for May.