Dunedin Heritage Fund may have monies halved

As the Dunedin Heritage Fund seeks to strengthen its position to proactively protect old buildings, the funding it receives from the Dunedin City Council could be halved.

The council's pre-draft annual plan proposes allocating a reduced amount of $40,000 to the fund, which gives grants and loans to help owners restore and reuse heritage buildings.

The fund is jointly administered by the council and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

The council is its only funder.

Trust Otago-Southland manager Owen Graham this week said the cut ran "against the flow" of the progress made in city heritage issues.

The fund let the city pro-actively help owners with their buildings.

A reduced fund might have to become reactive and be able to help fewer projects, Mr Graham said.

In a report prepared for councillors, heritage policy planner Glen Hazelton said the fund's balance was $482,136, but that only $129,102 had not already been allocated.

There would be more allocations - including for post-Canterbury earthquake building strengthening projects - and the fund could have a near-zero balance by the end of the financial year.

"In this case, the amount of funding allocated for the 2011-2012 year will determine whether the momentum that has been built over the last year can be maintained," Mr Hazelton said.

The fund was looking for sponsors and donors might be willing to contribute as they saw more high-profile projects get under way, he said.

It was council policy to match contribution to the fund, but there had been few contributions since the policy was adopted, Mr Hazelton said.

Mr Graham said the trust did not have the resources to bolster the fund, but supported any moves to encourage corporate sponsors to take an interest in heritage.

The new debate might also encourage people to consider establishing a heritage trust to acquire at-risk buildings, and its own funding.


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