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Beckenham residents say the laws that have allowed this to happen without consultation or resource consent need to change.
Beckenham Neighbourhood Association vice-chairman and Birdwood Ave resident Peter Tuffley estimated the houses were about 100-years-old.
They have been purchased by Archer Memorial Baptist Home Trust, which owns Thorrington Retirement Village and Rest Home. They will be removed to make room for eight new units for rest home residents. One house has already been removed and the other two will follow.
Mr Tuffley said it is too late to save the three houses but believes other historic houses in Beckenham should not be able to fall to a similar demise.
“It’s about looking at the regulatory framework that makes it possible for something like that to happen without any notice being given, without any opportunity for residents, particularly residents who live close by and whose outlook is affected by the development, to have any sort of say in the matter at all.”
Martin Ave resident Marise Richards agreed.
“I think one of the problems is that the law is not particularly clear and for some reason demolishing has been allowed to go ahead without consent. . . if you renovate your current home, of course, you need consent, so why would you not need it to demolish?”
The trust’s chairman Ross Shakespeare said it had checked with lawyers and followed up with the city council to ensure the removal of the houses without consent was legal.
Said city council head of resource consents John Higgins: “A resource consent is not required for demolition of homes in the Beckenham character area overlay. Demolition is permitted . .. these houses are not listed as heritage buildings. Such buildings are afforded a greater level of protection and resource consent is required for demolition.
“A resource consent is required for new buildings and the council has received a resource consent for eight houses associated with the neighbouring retirement village,” he said.
Mr Tuffley said Beckenham’s historic houses such as the ones that are being removed are worth protecting.
“Most of the houses down the street and throughout the [Beckenham] loop are visually very pleasant and we want the character of the neighbourhood to stay that way.”
But Mr Shakespeare said the retirement flats would fit into Beckenham’s historic surroundings.