Tag Archives: Red-stickered buildings

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

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

Letter from Christchurch – it’s bad

WHAT DO RED STICKERS MEAN NOW?

Just had a long and rather unpleasant shake as I began to write. I am not certain how many demolitions have taken place with independent engineering advice that the buildings are OK. I know of one definite case in Lyttelton and we had a very close call with the Tunnel building. Transit had the diggers in place ready to demolish. A tenant alerted a friend who got on to NZHPT who actually got their engineer onto the case promptly. He said the damage was minor and Transit backed down (probably because they have a memo of understanding with NZHPT).

In the CBD owners have of course been unable to get independent experts in but decisions are being made to demolish simply because buildings have been red-stickered. The red sticker means they are unsafe to enter as it stands – it should not mean automatic demolition. It involves no judgement as to whether the building could be restored if appropriate shoring up took place. At present owners are being given 24 hours notice that a building is going to be demolished with little possibility of influencing the decision and no chance to recover possessions.

I will try to get more details on the process or lack of it at a meeting I am going to tomorrow. We have received calls from a number of distressed owners who have valuable property in buildings which they believe can be restored but who fear that they will lose both building and contents without being able to do anything about it.

The general approach seems to be that any reasonably undamaged buildings in a block are just a nuisance and will slow down the process of clearance – that it is more efficient to clear out everything (this is the view of somebody working hard to prevent listed buildings from being demolished).

Another reason behind the demolition of red-stickered buildings is that the demolition companies apparently get the materials and contents as salvage – so we have been informed by an antique shop owner who defied the red stickers (in a suburban area) in order to recover stock ahead of the demolition crews.

I will try to get more details to you tomorrow, it is clear that there are owners who want to restore their buildings but are simply being told they have to come down and that is that.

{Names removed, letter received by What if? on Tuesday 12.07am. -Eds}

“DEMOLITION CREWS, THEY’RE WORSE THAN THE LOOTERS.”

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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