Letter from Christchurch 2 #eqnz

UPDATED

Today’s Press has more examples of high-handed action.

The Piko Whole-Foods Co-op store – an important social and architectural landmark – had its top storey removed before the owners knew what was going to happen. The heritage team at Christchurch City Council worked with the owners to try and stop the demolition but the top floor had already gone by the time they got there and its landmark value has been completely destroyed. The building had been earthquake strengthened within the past few years and though it did have some serious damage it is far from clear that it was beyond repair.

It had the misfortune to be sited on a major intersection of the one way system and we all know that free movement of cars must be put ahead of buildings. There was absolutely no question of people being in the building and thorough shoring up should have ensured public safety.

There is some sort of process for group 1 & 2 listed buildings, plus NZHPT registered buildings – a cursory sort of report by the heritage planners (they are so overwhelmed that the reports are completely perfunctory) – and a report from the NZHPT and/or council engineer, but the Civil Defence Controller has the final say.

I am not sure that NZHPT is fighting too hard anyway from what I can gather – because people have been killed (mainly in modern buildings) they seem to have taken the view that they can’t push hard for heritage.

If the owner can be identified (not always easy) they might be given 24 hours notice so have a chance to argue for a delay. If buildings are unlisted and simply make an important contribution to the character of a precinct, no process is required at all. Nothing at all can be done to try and avert demolition.

There seems to have been some agreement made between Civil Defence and the council staff involved with Civil Defence, that no cordons to protect the public from buildings needing repair will be put in place if they would encroach into a road – as long as they take that view not much will be saved.

As a result of tonight’s meeting a delegation of heritage advocates and business people are going to try and meet the Civil Defence Controller tomorrow to urge a slow down, but whether they will even be granted an appointment is far from certain.

We are meeting again on Friday to plan our next steps, especially if the appeal to the Controller fails to have any impact. The scary thing is the Government can just keep on extending the state of emergency.

{Letter received by What if? on Tuesday, 8 March 2011 11.24pm. Names removed to protect identities. -Eds}

(9.00am) What if? learned the group has been granted a meeting today with the Civil Defence Controller.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

2 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Inspiration, People, Politics, Project management, Site, Town planning, Urban design

2 responses to “Letter from Christchurch 2 #eqnz

  1. Elizabeth

    ### radionz.co.nz Monday, 07 March 2011 at 07:09
    Morning Report with Geoff Robinson & Simon Mercep
    Alarm at push to demolish Christchurch buildings
    There is alarm in Christchurch over the possibility of the mass demolition of the central city. (duration: 5′07″)
    Audio Ogg Vorbis MP3

    ### radionz.co.nz Monday, 07 March 2011
    Morning Report with Geoff Robinson & Simon Mercep
    Businesses criticise pace of demolition
    As of Friday three thousand properties within the four avenues had been inspected. 45 percent have been given yellow or red stickers. (duration: 4′09″)
    Audio Ogg Vorbis MP3

  2. Elizabeth

    Tweets on Saturday, 12 March 2010

    (2.48pm) @CherylBernstein I’ve heard of demolition companies vying with each other to work on the buildings with the richest pickings. #eqnz

    (2.53pm) @CherylBernstein And @c1espresso had heard of Auckland antique dealers being approached by demolition crews at work clearing rubble in central Chch. #eqnz

    (2.53pm) @Adzebill RT @CherylBernstein: I’ve heard of demolition companies vying with each other to work on the buildings with the richest pickings. #eqnz

    (2.58pm) @CherylBernstein I’d very much like @pressnewsroom to look into these stories about the salvage of building contents by demolition crews… #eqnz

    (2.58pm) @CherylBernstein @adzebill Ha! Snap, again.

    (2.59pm) @Adzebill @CherylBernstein Only after I retweeted you. I agree, let’s get this public.

    (2.59pm) @barroni @CherylBernstein Thats how demo companies make there money selling off doors , floor boards and fittings they recycle the stuff #eqnz

    (3.01pm) @AdrienneRewi @adzebill @CherylBernstein Don’t demolition companies legally take ownership of a building – including contents -once they begin demoliton?

    (3.01pm) @CherylBernstein @barroni Agreed. But TVs, antiques, etc … ?

    (3.03pm) @CherylBernstein @AdrienneRewi I think that’s right. So expert opinion about whether a building needs to be knocked down or not is critical. @adzebill

    (3.04pm) @AdrienneRewi @CherylBernstein @adzebill It is nonetheless, scurrulous behaviour on their part to be so quickly & opening ‘selling off’ ‘our’ treasures.

    (3.05pm) @CherylBernstein @AdrienneRewi I think flogging floorboards & roof tiles is one thing. Antiques and people’s TVs is quite another.

    (3.07pm) @AdrienneRewi @CherylBernstein I’m instantly alert to your use of the words ‘flogging’ and ‘floorboards.’ Seems a fitting punishment to begin with.

    (3.08pm) @lytteltonian @AdrienneRewi @adzebill @CherylBernstein yes, think so. Salvage rights are (or can be) part of the deal.

    (3.12pm) @AdrienneRewi @adzebill @lytteltonian As @CherylBernstein suggests, more thought, less haste shld be considered in initial decisions abt demolition

    (3.25pm) @CherylBernstein RT @Adzebill: Since demolition companies get salvage rights, they have to be kept on a bloody short leash. Huge potential for kickbacks and corruption.

    (3.25pm) @CherylBernstein The salvage rights of demolition companies: like pirates on land.

    (3.28pm) @Adzebill @CherylBernstein Snap! Not looting but pillage is the word I was searching for. Wreckers, rather than pirates?

    (3.29pm) @CherylBernstein @adzebill Or a resident in the central city, seeing your clothes or jewellery or heirlooms uplifted for resale by a demolition crew. #eqnz

    (3.37pm) @MargeInovera @CherylBernstein If any of the stories are true, it’s a bloody disgrace!

    (3.50pm) @EricCrampton @CherylBernstein salvage rights are fine where owner had allowed it to defray demolition costs. Not where owner doesn’t even know of demo.

    (4.01pm) @CherylBernstein @EricCrampton how about where there is a tenant who owns the contents and someone else who owns the building? It is all extremely fraught.

    (4.15pm) @secondzeit @adzebill @CherylBernstein I suggest you also try @klynchThePress and/or @jhartevelt with the demo story

    (9.04pm) @pholdstock “@CherylBernstein: heard of Auckland antique dealers being approached by demolition crews at work clearing rubble in central Chch. #eqnz”

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