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Demolition of historic hotel tragedy for Waitakere

Demolition of historic hotel a tragedy for Waitakere

3 July 2008

The Auckland Regional Council is deeply saddened that Waitakere City Council has today taken the wrecker’s ball to the New Lynn Hotel, one of the city’s prime heritage buildings.

Cr Sandra Coney, Chair of the Parks and Heritage Committee, described the demolition as ‘unseemly, and tragic for the city’. She said it was an example of ‘demolition by neglect’.

“Waitakere City started responsibly by buying the building and placing a Heritage Order on it, but it has then been neglected to the degree that it now feels justified in destroying it,” says Cr Coney.

The ARC is concerned that Waitakere City Council (WCC) has used emergency provisions of the Resource Management Act (Section 330) and Building Act to demolish the building, saying it is a danger to the public, she says.

This means there is no normal process of public notification which would have allowed the community and others to have a say, says Cr Coney.

The ARC had expressed a strong interest in the future of the building. In April this year the ARC wrote to Mayor Bob Harvey urging the city to protect and restore the building.

“I got a three-liner back from Mayor Harvey, saying it would come down unless the ARC paid,” says Cr Coney.

“Waitakere City has very little nineteenth century commercial built heritage. The hotel has been a landmark for 130 years, and is deeply steeped in the historical development of Waitakere. It was the central watering place for the bushmen and gum diggers who were the principal workforce of the area. It was also where mourners going to and from Waikumete Cemetery drowned their sorrows. It should have been a priority to keep it.”

The ARC is concerned that given its own regional heritage protection role, and its expressed interest in the building, WCC failed to consult or even inform it of the impending demolition.

“I had visited the site with WCC officers a few weeks ago,’ says Cr Coney, “and it was our intention to carry out an independent heritage assessment of the state of the building once it had been publicly notified. Sadly, that stage has been scrapped by WCC. Instead it made the final decision apparently on a report where an engineer walked around the building and made a visual inspection.”

Cr Coney said it was another example of how badly the Auckland region is performing in terms of protecting its built heritage and the failure of some local bodies to act as guardians of their inheritance.

The New Lynn Hotel at 3176 Great North Road New Lynn was a category 1 heritage building in the Waitakere City’s District Plan. This is the highest level of protection for listed heritage items in the District Plan. There was also a Heritage Order on the building under the Resource Management Act.

WCC voted in April to demolish the building, however, because of the level of protection, demolition was a non-complying activity and would have been notified.

Multiple reports have been prepared on the New Lynn Hotel since 1995. The Conservation Plan prepared by Dave Pearson for WCC in 2006 rated the building as being of exceptional heritage significance overall.

ENDS

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