Planner opposes painting building panels

John Wickliffe House.
John Wickliffe House.
A Dunedin city planner has added her disapproval to a proposal to paint the concrete panels of John Wickliffe House.

To paint them black would be inappropriate for the building's architecture and in its setting, Dunedin City Council planner Sophie Lord says in a report to the hearings panel considering the application.

The company that owns John Wickliffe House has applied for resource consent to repair and paint the building, which is in a protected townscape precinct zone.

Its plan is to paint the concrete panels - which are covered with exposed and polished West Coast serpentine stone - black and grey to cover up what they say will otherwise be visual repairs they intend to make.

Plaza Property Trust's plans have already drawn a strong response from five opponents who said such a paint job would be out of place with the original design of the building and with its surroundings.

Three other submitters supported the plans.

Miss Lord said the council's urban designer, Peter Christos, viewed the building as one of the most prominent in the Exchange, which contributed significantly to the character of the precinct.

She quoted Mr Christos as saying it represented a time when architecture was used to project a sense of modernity and progress, and the concrete panels were unique and integral to the architecture of the building.

Council consultant surveyor Philip Hartley also told her the building was of high historical importance, despite its lack of heritage protection.

''In the context of its location, the building's profile, scale and relationship to its setting contribute value and integrity to the townscape precinct.

''Consequently, a relatively simple matter such as the colour of the building can have a significant impact, either positive or negative,'' Mr Hartley was quoted as saying.

After considering comments by submitters, Mr Christos and Mr Hartley on the colour of the stone panels and the integral nature of them to the building, Miss Lord said her view was that the colour chosen was inappropriate and painting the building at all would detract significantly from the precinct and the aesthetic of the area.

The applicant should investigate further how they could repair the cracks on the building in a way that was sympathetic to the original design and material of the exterior cladding to a standard where painting was not required, she said.

''It is my opinion that the applicants should make every effort to maintain the serpentine panels to their original design and aesthetic.''

She recommended the application to paint the building be declined, but consent be granted for the repairs, subject to appropriate conditions.

A hearings panel of Crs Kate Wilson, David Benson-Pope and Aaron Hawkins will consider Miss Lord's report, alongside other submissions and will hear from the applicant and five opponents of the proposal at a public hearing on Friday.

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