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Call for moratorium on heritage demolitions has merit

5 September 2012


Call for moratorium on heritage demolitions has merit

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) agrees that unnecessary demolition of heritage buildings in central Christchurch should not take place.

“Over the past two years the NZHPT has been working, often behind the scenes with owners facing difficult decisions about their properties, trying to ensure that well informed and appropriate decisions are made about heritage buildings,” says NZHPT acting Southern Region Area Manager Robyn Burgess.

“There’s been an overwhelming workload with an unprecedented level of loss, and while the NZHPT has not been able to work directly with every owner, we have worked with hundreds of people. Although the loss of some historic places has – in our opinion - been unnecessary, we’ve tried to ensure that owners have been given useful information and ideas about all potential options for retention and reuse or redevelopment.

A recent count of lost CBD heritage buildings registered by the NZHPT estimates that around one third have been demolished. The future of some remaining registered buildings, bridges, monuments and places of historical significance central Christchurch is still unknown.

The recent good news about the likely retention of the façade of the historic Cranmer Court (former Normal School) demonstrates that positive outcomes may be achieved where owners are willing to explore alternative options to complete demolition.

“A fine example of Christchurch’s distinctive Gothic Revival architecture and a significant early normal or model school, the importance of Cranmer Court is reflected in the Category 1 registration with the NZHPT’, says Ms Burgess.

“Having just passed the second anniversary of the 4 September 2010 earthquake, we recognise that remaining heritage will be rarer and more important in the future city, and retention and conservation of places that mark the familiar is an important factor in the speed of recovery of communities and cities after major events.”


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