Princes St buildings remain in limbo

A drawn-out dispute over the future of a group of historic Princes St, Dunedin buildings looks set to be prolonged until next year.

An Environment Court hearing for Prista Apartments' bid to demolish buildings at 372-392 Princes St and 11 Stafford St, and replace them with a development of 15 apartments and retail space, has been delayed because of the lack of availability of professional engineers and other witnesses, because of the Christchurch earthquake.

After two years of hearings, petitions, public meetings and heated opposition, a Dunedin City Council resource consent committee last September granted Prista the right to demolish the buildings, despite the area's being a protected townscape precinct, and heritage advocates' arguing the facades could be preserved.

Prista received consent after it agreed to a new design with facades that referenced the originals, but the New Zealand Historic Places Trust appealed, and the row of buildings has lain dormant since.

Asked for an update on the matter, Dunedin city councillor Colin Weatherall, the chairman of the consent committee that ruled on the matter, said an appeal hearing was not expected until early 2012.

NZHPT Otago-Southland area manager Owen Graham said NZHPT and its experts had been able to access the Prista buildings in early August with the co-operation of the owner but, as the matter was before the courts, it was unable to comment further.

Prista principal Luke Dirkzwager this week said the project was on hold.


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