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Dr Johnson responded to Alistair Broad's criticisms that he had been advised he could not demolish his unsafe building, the former Dainty Dairy in Stuart St, because of the district plan's protection of the townscape.
Mr Broad said the council was acting as "King Canute", resisting a "tide" of worn out buildings in Dunedin, which were potentially a danger, because of the wish to retain the townscape.
Pointing out that Mr Broad had not applied for consent to demolish, Dr Johnson acknowledged Stuart St was part of the district plan's townscape area and building owners were required to replace or devise a "treatment" for a site to avoid gaps if they demolished a building.
Otherwise, "it does create holes in the urban fabric".
The requirement was part of owning a central city business, and the council received complaints about vacant sections if they did appear.
Dr Johnson rejected Mr Broad's claim the council was more concerned about retaining the townscape than public safety.
Mr Broad has been issued with a dangerous building notice and must fix up the building, part of which is in danger of collapse, by May 9.