Scribes building demolition legal action welcomed

Work carried out during the demolition of the old Scribes bookshop in Dunedin is to come under...
Work carried out during the demolition of the old Scribes bookshop in Dunedin is to come under legal scrutiny. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Court action relating to demolition of the old Scribes bookshop in Dunedin has been welcomed by a heritage trust.

It was pleasing to see scrutiny of some of the work that happened at the corner of Great King St and St David St, in North Dunedin, where a two-storey 19th century building once stood, Southern Heritage Trust chairwoman Jo Galer said.

"It was an important building for the streetscape in that area," Ms Galer said.

"We campaigned at the time to try to save it."

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga has lodged a proceeding against developer Tony Tan and architect Gary Todd and their respective businesses, Dayniel Ltd and Gary Todd Architecture.

The case was adjourned this week and will be heard next month.

Mr Tan, Mr Todd and Heritage New Zealand declined to comment, as the matter was before the courts.

Ms Galer said the trust awaited the outcome of the case with interest.

The masonry-clad building was most likely constructed in the late 19th century, a heritage report said.

It was used for commercial and residential purposes. Its occupants included an umbrella manufacturer, a piano teacher and furnishing shop. Second-hand book shop Scribes had been there since the early 1990s.

The development plan detailed in consent documents involved creating another commercial premises, 10 accommodation units and parking. It was to have a roof-top garden.

Mr Tan and his company were granted consent by the Dunedin City Council in March 2021 to demolish the building.

Work started the following month, but it was quickly halted, because of the lack of a building consent.

Heritage New Zealand Otago-Southland office spokesman Frank van der Heijden also said at the time the developer needed to have gained permission to fully demolish pre-1900 buildings or to disturb any sub-surface archaeology.

This permission had not been obtained, he said.

In the end, authority was granted and demolition continued lawfully in July last year.



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