Demolition by neglect. Townscape precincts.

About which, belated (after parapet failure) “buying of engineering opinion” can make sure historic buildings come down for car parks.

On Friday, Karen Ratten of St Kilda had a letter to the editor published, ‘Why the long delay in demolition?’ (ODT 29.6.12). Ms Ratten is firstly concerned about three car parks being currently unavailable for use outside Brocklebanks Building in King Edward St, South Dunedin. She then asks why the hold up with the building’s demolition?

The question could have been, why is demolition of the listed building required at all (the building has facade protection in the district plan and is located in a listed townscape precinct) – if it’s to create interim on-site parking? Given it was (still is!) possible to tie the building together and restore it, or retain the historic facade and erect a new building behind – thereby removing the public safety issue altogether.

DCC’s Alan Worthington, Resource Consents manager, provides reply including an inference (we’re way past generalities here, Alan) that archaeological authority processes required by New Zealand Historic Places Trust for the building have contributed to delay of demolition. This is not so. He then intimates something more useful, saying: “At the same time there may be other matters the building owner is dealing with.” Bingo. Just maybe, the Brocklebank family trust hasn’t finalised building plans in order to apply for resource consent. Who knew!

The other site…

### ODT Online Sat, 30 Jun 2012
Buildings’ demise imminent
By Debbie Porteous
Scenic Circle Hotel Group director Stuart McLauchlan confirmed a crane that went up behind the N. & E.S. Paterson Ltd and Barron buildings in Rattray St this week would be bringing the partially demolished buildings down within “days”. Two separate sections of the 136-year-old Barron Building collapsed in January 2011; parapets fell on to the roof causing it to collapse inwards onto the second storey.
Read more

The Barron Building, originally known as the Banks, Barron & Co. Building, was designed by architect Henry F. Hardy, and constructed circa 1875. The Victorian-era warehouse later received a very fine interior by architect Owen E. MacFie. The first bottling plant for Speights was housed in the basement (still intact) – potentially, a stunning adjunct to Speight’s Alehouse and heritage tours.

According to specialist engineers the Barron Building could have been saved following collapse of the parapet.

Keeping up a building of this scale is not usually prohibitive, cost wise – it does require diligence. It can ‘come down’ to having motivated owners and investors.

Long before parapet failure, Barron Building required conscientious owner-stewards to carry out cyclical maintenance (seeing to weathertightness, gutter cleaning, keeping pigeons out, removing vegetation and trees from mortar, repointing and so on) and regular structural assessment towards enhancing building performance – with all resulting work to be costed and carried out in stages (at its most affordable – given that for many many years Dunedin City Council has practised leniency towards building owners in regards to bringing buildings up to code).

All the people saying pull the old buildings down because they’re “eyesores” (see ODT news report above) and asking why private building owners should be put to the cost of saving old structures like these – the answer, respectfully, is that they need to get out a bit, to see for themselves what’s actually going on in the neighbourhood.

Building owners (good investors), with vision and means, are set on maintaining, strengthening and upgrading their heritage buildings. Their efforts are attracting higher paying tenants; and incrementally/cumulatively they are raising property values in the old CBD. It’s known as “regeneration”. If you’re a building investor who isn’t participating in this upward movement (where’s your diligence?) and your property is going backwards, you need to ask yourself what’s the sense in being left behind? Get educated. Those caring for heritage building stock are starting to make real money now and for the long term. They’ve done their sums, they know what it takes.

A sizeable cluster of Dunedin’s historic buildings in the area have been or are in the process of being strengthened and re-used. They include (no particular order): Old BNZ Bank, Standard Building, Old National Bank, Bing Harris Building, Clarion Building, Bracken Court (Moray Pl), Queens Garden Court, NMA Building (former Union Steam Ship Co, Water St), former Rogan McIndoe Print Building (Crawford St), 14 Dowling St, Garrison Hall (Dowling St), former Stavely Building (cnr Bond and Jetty Sts), Wood Adams Building (19 Bond St), former Chief Post Office, former Donald Reid Store (Vogel St), Milne Brebner Building (Vogel St), 366 Princes St… and more besides.

Again, WHY are we losing the likes of Barron Building, N. & E.S. Paterson Building, and Brocklebanks Building?

If you are a heritage building owner wanting to access available information that could help you conserve, strengthen and save your building, contact Glen Hazelton, DCC Policy Planner (Heritage) phone 4774000 – or Owen Graham, NZHPT Area Manager (Otago Southland) phone 4779871.


### ODT Online Tue, 7 Sep 2010
Measures urged to protect heritage buildings
By John Gibb
Relatively cheap and simple measures can protect many of Dunedin’s heritage buildings from much of the kind of earthquake damage evident in Christchurch, structural engineer Lou Robinson says.
Read more

Related Posts and Comments:
8.5.12 Owners of neglected buildings
25.8.11 180 Rattray St, Dunedin: Proposed historic building demolition…
12.4.11 Public outrage – SHAME on those re$pon$ible for building neglect
4.3.11 Reaction to another instance of unthinking ad-hocism from City Hall
19.2.11 Owner of Dragon Café/Barron Building has lodged an application…
26.1.11 D Scene: Honour heritage
22.1.11 SAVE Dragon Café / Barron Building – Sign the Online Petition
13.1.11 Barron Building and Rattray Street
13.1.11 Banks, Barron & Co Building Collapse pics

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Heritage, Media, NZHPT, People, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design

22 responses to “Demolition by neglect. Townscape precincts.

  1. Phil

    New Zealand should be hanging its head in shame at not having clear legislation to cover this abuse. In terms of building protection, we are genuine 3rd world status. One of the benefits of being an island is that we don’t have to be confronted by our failings.

  2. Andrew

    A lot of small commercial heritage building owners will be facing some hard decisions in the next 10 years. Despite what Debbie says, a heritage building being economically viable depends on size, placement, investment capital and a positive market. We are going to have to accept that some buildings are going to have to be demolished simply because the owner can not handle the cost financially.

    • Elizabeth

      The point is you sell them on if you can’t afford to do the work. Other people will always have access to more funds and more clues. I’m sick of bleeding hearts.

      You can seek assistance now, start doing your sums and planning ahead, to stay or exit. Young investors with smart businesses can buy in cheap and attract the finance to retain many of these buildings. [heresy–>] Strengthening work is often better than paying hiked building insurance premiums in the initial stages. It’s all about where you source your money – it’s not always going to come from the banks, and that in itself delivers other freedoms for maintenance of the heritage resource.

  3. Mike

    The continual use of the archaic “nay sayer” makes me wonder who is scripting the current pro stadium astroturf on the ODT forums

  4. Anonymous

    Yes, Mike, like the ‘much needed injection of new money into local businesses and community’ script which conveniently ignores the hundreds of millions of dollars stripped from those businesses and community for the same thing. It is frustrating how these people turn a blind eye to the corruption in this city council and allow the corrupt to thrive. While this is permitted then I’m not going to fall for Stakeholder diversions like ‘it’s built so get over it’. They need to be rooted out of council and made accountable for their actions before this city can move on with its future. Otherwise everyone continues to pay and no private business can survive on that alone.

  5. Andrew

    I admire your passion to this cause Elizabeth. I am passionate myself as I own historic buildings. The last 4 years I have being rescuing a very old Victorian commercial building, so I know exactly what it costs, no bleeding heart here, just empty pockets and a lot of time spent :).

    We cannot be flippant and say things like “sell them on” or “buy in cheap”. You’re talking about people’s investments and incomes that took years to build up, that deserves respect. Heritage building owners are not all like Lincoln Darling or on the flipside, like the Macknight family. There are a lot of us caught in the middle and we will be fighting for our financial survival in the coming years.

    • Elizabeth

      Andrew, there is something in the wind (being researched) that could help people like yourself – more anon. Yes the two names you mention seem to represent opposite ends of the heritage spectrum. Slowly, surely, there’s a peer process of education and ‘rethink’ possible if dollar returns can be shown.

  6. Hype O'Thermia

    See also letter to ed in today’s print edition from Graeme Rixon. Abridged: I wonder what else he said.
    excerpt “…might I suggest to Mr Brocklebank that once they manage to demolish the building in the year 2029, that they start their business somewhere else, as they will have the same problems with building consents etc from the same people when they come to rebuild. …the DCC seems to take bureaucracy to a new level or irritation.”

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Isn’t that a crack-up! Classic.

  8. ### ODT Online Sat, 31 May 2014
    DCC plans to address ‘demolition by neglect’
    By David Loughrey and Shawn McAvinue
    The Dunedin City Council is planning to target the owners of dilapidated heritage buildings in the city to stop ”demolition by neglect” and encourage ”unco-operative” owners to fix up their properties. It says it has put ”substantial effort” into encouraging the re-use of heritage buildings, using ”carrots rather than sticks”, but it is now searching for ways to take a more active approach in using powers it has. It will next week consider its options for dealing with such building owners, from better using the Building Act in relation to insanitary buildings, to creating a register, or, at the most extreme, imposing financial penalties.
    Read more

    Report – PRC – 03/06/2014 (PDF, 197.8 KB)
    Options to Address Demolition by Neglect and Degradation of the Dunedin Streetscape

    The report will be discussed at the Planning and Regulatory Committee meeting on Tuesday 3 June 2014 held in the Edinburgh Room, Municipal Chambers, at 1pm.

  9. Reading this document, I was struck by its bullying tone. The I saw that it had been requested by the Chair of the Planning and Regulatory Committee. Guess who that is?

  10. Interesting editorial in this morning’s ODT on the eccentricities of ‘democracy’ and costs pertaining to the deciding of buildings’ fates being in the hands of disparate consulting engineer’s opinions. The Bannockburn Hall was cited as an example of how far apart these engineers can be in their professional assessments. Attention was then turned to the ongoing saga of the proposed Wanaka Sports Facility and how it has eaten up $500,000 of ratepayers’ treasure, plus bureaucrats’ time/cost. We really live in a politically correct, warped, distorted time. The editor goes on to say there is a need for democracy but also leadership and making decisions. He then says projects seem to be driven “from a wants rather than a needs analysis”. He cites the John Wilson Drive debacle, but, strangely not a word about the Dunedin Stadium as prime examples of this mentality. Funny that!

    • Peter

      Yes, Calvin, dear old ODT. A less than subtle blind spot. Look…and listen…to Paul Dwyer and you can understand the mentality.
      It’s like those who deny The Holocaust!

  11. Calvin, thaks for pointing out today’s editorial which ODT has forgotten to upload for Online readers. I have requested it but they’ve probably been supping champagne all day to celebrate the glorification of EX councillor Hudson who reaped ratepayer dollars to the absolute best of his ability for his personal advancement. [ex councillor Weatherall is a different but same kettle of fish if we think gains to Professional Rugby via the theft of ratepayer funds, and he knows it]

    [Editorial] Quake strengthening fiasco

  12. Problems with quake inspections
    The number of assessments outstanding, a shortage of structural engineers and continued uncertainty about the Government’s plans for earthquake-prone buildings has led the Dunedin City Council to consider extending its deadline for building assessments.

  13. Hype O'Thermia

    The whole quake panic needs to be overseen by experts acting like actuaries who calculate length of human life expectancy. How many people in or around Building X, how long, how often, what part of the day (because if daylight when people are awake they are more likely to notice, be awake, be able to find their way, rescue services will be able to see 0- that sort of thing. That should be added to info on structural factors. Then a panic-free assessment needs to be made of risk to life and limb from buildings due to poor repair AT ANY TIME; due to earthquake (plus probably occurrence, strength, effect according to what it’s built on or near); due to other causes such as accidents industrial, home, sporting, assault; disability from natural health processes including increased duration and severity of disability caused by delay or refusal of treatment.

    Taking all those into the equation the decisions to pull down anything that can’t be 100% guaranteed to be 100% safe in 100% of possible events could be given a swift kick into Reality Territory.

  14. Sat through Cr Benson-Pope’s chairing of the Planning and Regulatory Committee meeting for these items:

    [Item 4] Options to address demolition by neglect and degradation of the Dunedin streetscape

    [Item 5] Assessment timeframe for Dunedin earthquake prone buildings

    With respect to 4., Councillors expressed concern that the current air of positivity around heritage retention and adaptive reuse could be put at risk by publishing a register of ‘at risk’ buildings (with or without owners’ names). Councillors also saw a need to link this matter to Council’s economic development policy. The idea was raised that providing cheaper city parking might be a deterrent to the demolition of older building stock for open air car parks. Discussion concluded with the motion to table the report and that more information was required. Glen Hazelton, Acting Urban Design Team Leader, stressed that there is no clear cut answer (to the problem of demolition by neglect within the Dunedin streetscape), and if there was, someone else would be doing it (around the country). He did indicate he prefers a less punitive approach on the whole (for good heritage management outcomes to occur).

    Item 5. Extending the timeline for building assessments is counterproductive if changes to Government legislation in the next six months trump DCC policy for earthquake-prone buildings. The Select Committee will visit Dunedin to hear the Council’s submission – obviously, there’s an interest in Council’s approaches to earthquake-proneness. The New Zealand Building Act doesn’t require a public register to be kept – this is a DCC initiative. There was a question about who would be disadvantaged by the register? The wording around building compliance would need to be carefully worked. If DCC knew a building was dangerous but failed to publicly disclose this prior to building collapse – would Council be liable? Some councillors wanted more advice on liability. However, maintaining a list of buildings that have or haven’t been assessed for earthquake-proneness doesn’t mean work is required on them – a list doesn’t change the risk. Compared to other councils DCC ‘looks good’ in anticipation of the change of legislation. Further information is needed by Councillors; however, putting further resource to this is wasteful preceding that change.

  15. I’m not sure a tougher line on buildings will actually be achieved since the issue of (DCC) liability has not yet been researched or addressed by Council. Although Anderson Lloyd will be hanging out for another large cheque. Early days.

  16. Elizabeth

    DCC and HNZ staff met with the school’s board last week and the board had agreed to “explore options other than demolition”.

    ### ODT Online Sat, 29 Nov 2014
    Possible demolition upsets neighbour
    By Shawn McAvinue
    A neighbour is angry a 19th-century mansion built by a Speight’s Brewery founder in Dunedin could be demolished to make room for a car park.
    Peter Grace said he was ”fired up” Otago Girls’ High School had been granted authority to demolish Greenslade Mansion, in Tennyson St. From his living room in the historic building he was restoring – the former Temple Gallery in Moray Pl – he could see the mansion. If the school did not intend to restore the mansion, it should sell it for the sake of Dunedin’s heritage and to set an example.
    Read more

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