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Community get no say on destruction of heritage

Community get no say on destruction of their heritage

Campaign for a Better City (CBC) is concerned that yesterday’s Environment Court Decision on the Wellington City “Bypass” sets a dangerous precedent, excluding communities from having input into decisions to destroy the physical heritage in which they and their forebears have lived.

Commenting on the decision, CBC spokesperson, Alan Whiting said “We are shocked at the implications of the court’s decision. The court appear to be saying that ‘a group of property owners’ can have a say on the destruction of heritage but people who have lived in the area for generations cannot have a say”

The court held that neither CBC nor its constituent members were ‘directly affected’ by the decision of the Historic Places Trust.

Commenting, Alan Whiting said: “Transit has been able to shut out all other property owners by purchasing their properties using the threat of the Public Works Act. This leaves Transit NZ in a position where it can effectively build roads wherever it likes, with little regard to the archaeological value that will be lost. In this case, the court considered the archaeological values along the proposed route to be very high but the court is also saying that Transit by buying up the properties on the route has effectively excluded anyone else from commenting.”

“It is ironic that an upcoming amendment to the Resource Management Act (which will be enacted on 1 August 2003) will see Historic Heritage raised to a status of National importance. At the same time, Transit NZ has been authorised to destroy one of the last vestiges of the Capital’s urban heritage.”

“The court’s justification of this destruction seems to come down to the fact that declining the authorities would see Transit continue to allow the properties to deteriorate. The court has effectively been held to ransom by Transit’s unwillingness to maintain the buildings. Transit NZ needs to be given broader social and environmental responsibilities to force it to respect and care for our built heritage.”

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