Plea to save old buildings

Ted Daniels (left) and Athol Parks want to save heritage buildings in the Cadbury factory block....
Ted Daniels (left) and Athol Parks want to save heritage buildings in the Cadbury factory block. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Heritage advocates have begged planners managing the new Dunedin Hospital project to reconsider plans to demolish almost all of the buildings on the former Cadbury factory site.

Final decisions have yet to be made on what buildings and services will go on which of the two blocks of land earmarked by the Government for the $1.2billion project.

However, the current site master plan has the main acute services building occupying the entire factory site, and the day surgery block and several smaller buildings on the current Wilson parking block.

Heritage buildings developer Ted Daniels and City Walks founder Athol Parks yesterday said switching the acute services building to the northern block could allow for up to four noteworthy buildings on the factory site to be preserved.

"They are wonderful representations of Dunedin's industrial traditions and we don't have a lot of those buildings any more," Mr Parks said.

"They are buildings that can be reused and have a legacy to the city."

The men said they supported the new hospital project and did not want to jeopardise it, but believed significant parts of the Cadbury site could be preserved.

"Unless there is a compelling reason for it to be otherwise, it seems to me from their planning documents that the pros and cons of building on both those blocks are kind of similar," Mr Parks said.

"If that is the case, we think there is a compelling case for the big building to go on the northern one."

Mr Daniels said while the plans were not finalised, on what had been released publicly it appeared the day surgery building - which is to be completed first - should be able to fit where the Cadbury cool store now sits.

"I am sure they can design a building that can fit on that site ... we are searching for an answer why they could not save the Cadbury buildings.

"We are asking now because if we didn't, and someone asked afterwards why didn't save them, it might look like no-one cared.

"I am sure there are lots of other people for whom the buildings are important; we do not want to stop the hospital and we do not think this would mean any change to the timeframe."

Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson could not be contacted for comment.

In a public meeting in March, Mr Hodgson said he had previously considered the alignment of buildings suggested by Mr Parks and Mr Daniels to be the better option, but on further examination of a range of issues "it was pretty clear that the big building had to go south and couldn't go north".

"I understand your point of view - it's just that it doesn't hold enough sway. It isn't important enough to switch the buildings around like that," Mr Hodgson said.

"I'm sorry to give you that answer, but that's what I think the situation is."

The buildings are listed on the district plan as historically significant, but lack the highest Heritage NZ grading.

"Nobody ever thought that they would go," Mr Daniels said.

"I think they are unique. Parts of them are art deco and parts are older ... ."

Mr Parks said as two of the additional buildings on the hospital master plan were for future developments, the day surgery block should be built on the non-heritage parts of the Cadbury site.

"That would buy time. They could use the day surgery building in the meantime, and there is probably space for the future buildings to be built on the additional land, or the current buildings to be reused."

Earlier, Mr Hodgson said he expected engineers and architects would advise "not to build New Zealand's largest hospital inside an old chocolate factory".

The old, recently restored dairy building was believed by many to be important and Mr Hodgson believed and hoped it would be preserved.

"The rest of the facades, we think we cannot build a hospital and retain those facades.

"I wouldn't like to say it is impossible, but it is impractical."


Break out the bulldozers and wrecking balls.


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