Credit where it is due

The Chapman's Terrace building in upper Stuart St, 119 York Pl. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
The Chapman's Terrace building in upper Stuart St, 119 York Pl. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
119 York Pl.
119 York Pl.
107-111 York Pl.
107-111 York Pl.
309 Stuart St.
309 Stuart St.

Paul Tankard, of Dunedin, proposes a prize for the city's most sensitively restored building.

Dunedin is often described as the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian city in this part of the world. It is not individual glorious buildings, but intact streetscapes that contribute to this unique character.

I would like to propose a prize or award be instituted for the most sensitively restored building in Dunedin. The award would take account of various heritage criteria. Some of these would be particular to the building, and be assessed by architects or other professionals.

But the award would also consider the importance of the building as part of the Dunedin streetscape.

At the same time, there could be an ''award'' for the most insensitively altered, poorly maintained or culpably neglected building.

In the first category, there would be many buildings to nominate.

Last year, two adjacent properties in York Place, 107-11 and 119, were restored, and look fabulous. At present, Chapman's Terrace in Upper Stuart St is being lovingly restored by its owners.

Work such as this does not merely benefit the owners; who knows whether they will ''recover their investment''?

I suspect they don't care.

They have given new life to prominent and irreplaceable aspects of Dunedin's unique character as a city. They have given a gift to all the people of Dunedin, who drive or walk past daily, and whose lives and aesthetic experience are enhanced.

On the other hand, those who deliberately neglect old buildings, particularly in notable heritage streetscapes, are insulting their fellow citizens and robbing them of their heritage and amenity.

All drivers up Stuart St see directly in front of and above them, as they approach the bend at York Pl, a row of six houses on the left between York Pl and Cargill St.

The properties are all old and interesting and, more importantly, form a pleasing contrast with each other: some are grand and some modest.

But at No309, there is an elegant two-storey villa that has been untenanted for at least two years and is falling into serious disrepair.

I do not personally know the owners or occupiers of any of these buildings. Some of them I want to commend and thank, on behalf of all citizens of and visitors to Dunedin. One owner I would like to challenge to a higher level of civil responsibility.

How about it?

If the DCC, or some institution with the good of Dunedin at heart, would take on the award, I would happily contribute to an appeal to fund it.

And to sending in nominations!

[A. Williams, the director of the trust that owns 309 Stuart St, responds to the criticism:

Dear Mr Tankard

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, and reminding me of my civic responsibility. After careful consideration I have recently decided to sell this property due to health reasons.

Some time ago I had plans drawn up by a prominent Dunedin architect for five studio rooms to be built within the existing external walls. This will be a quality development in keeping with the original character of the house.

I am hoping the new owner will continue the project where I have left off, and you can look forward to witnessing the progress in due course.]

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