Factory demolition warning

Ted Daniels (left) and Athol Parks outside the Cadbury building last year. Photo: Linda Robertson
Ted Daniels (left) and Athol Parks outside the Cadbury building last year. Photo: Linda Robertson
There are fears the demolition of the former Cadbury factory without a definite plan for the future of the site could be a permanent blow to Dunedin’s historic streetscape.

The Ministry of Health proposal to demolish the former Cadbury factory has been publicly notified.

The demolition of the former warehouse is under way but without Cabinet approval of the much-delayed detailed business case for the planned $1.4billion Dunedin Hospital, Dunedin heritage buildings developer Ted Daniels warned against pushing ahead with the resource application now.

"I’m not against change — I’m more against something getting demolished, or some important aspect of Dunedin’s history getting taken away without, really, any consideration," he said.

"Dunedin has already so many empty sites because they had plans to do something with it but that never eventuated — it’s kind of another site that could be empty for a long time to come when they change their minds."

The plant ceased making chocolate in Dunedin in March 2018, but the Cumberland St and Castle St facades are listed as a heritage item in the city’s district plan.

Yet Mr Daniels, who recently won the Dunedin Heritage Re-use Award for his restoration of Standard Building in Princes St, and was also celebrated for renewing the former Victoria Chambers in Crawford St, said all four walls could be repurposed.

The buildings had a unique industrial look, but because of their current "mono-colour" were undervalued.

"We’ve lost a lot of buildings because they were painted in ‘corporate colours’ — like some company goes into a building and paints the building in their colour and then suddenly the building doesn’t have any historic look anymore. People [ascribe] no value to it — and they get pulled down and nobody really cares."

City Walks founder Athol Parks said he would not comment in detail and could not say whether he would oppose the application.

He was disappointed but not surprised to hear of the notification of the resource consent application for the demolition of the property on Saturday.

He believed the buildings were a good example of functional industrial architecture pioneered in the 1910s and ’20s in Europe — and there should be no "rush to demolish" without a concrete plan.

"More importantly, I think they [the former Cadbury buildings] have functional value right now, at a time when there’s going to be great disruption in the city," he said.

"These buildings they’re going to bowl — I’m sure there’s space in there that could be used in the meantime."

At the end of June the Otago Daily Times reported the new Dunedin Hospital plans remained as a two-building project despite both the Ministry of Health and Southern District Health Board pushing for a single building.

Then health minister David Clark and Finance Minister Grant Robertson rejected recommendations just one hospital building be erected, on either the Wilson car parking or former Cadbury factory blocks.

The resource consent application in Saturday’s ODT notes "the location and the design of the hospital buildings is not the subject of this application".



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Ironically, David Clark, who promoted the hospital rebuild, is no longer in Cabinet.

Apart from the former Cadbury World entrance, the rest of the site is cracking and/or nondescript. Dunedin has so many buildings crumbling and cracking, most not worth saving. The sooner they are pulled down, the rebuild can happen. They are empty and an eyesore. A re-evaluation of what is worth saving is needed, otherwise owners will do nothing and let them crumble further.

The whole project is flawed and those on council who drove this campaign should be gone. From what I read the pre-ground work was not completely done. Those involved need to be made accountable. The hospital should have been and still should be built elsewhere. Who in there right mind has the major police, hospital and the town's main fire station in the same area? This area should have been turned into a "Central Park" type area with a couple of restaurants, cafes, news agent with lockable gates at night. And keeping some of the Cadbury walls as a main entrance.

There is going to be plenty of room in the George St area for cafes and noodle bars when the DCC have worked their magic. Already Meridian Mall is going to be a wasteland when H & J Smith and Kmart empty their spaces. Just how many lattes can Dunedin sell a day.

Pull it all down - and the sooner the better. We desperately need a new hospital, so get on with it and stop fumbling around. It's like no one wants to take any responsibility for anything. The old Cadbury facade is ugly and this silly mentality that a building should be saved just because it is old is a total waste of resources. At this rate, it will be another 10 years before anything gets started on the new hospital.

100% Correct bring in the D12's and wrecking ball.

Cadbury (aka Mondelez) showed no loyalty to Dunedin in the end - why should we care about the remnants of that corporate entity? We need a hospital, so let's get on with it.

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