Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Removal of historic Herne Bay villa 'an absolute shocker'

Geoff Houtman says the 1905 building is part of Herne Bay's cultural heritage.  Photo / Chris Gorman
Geoff Houtman says the 1905 building is part of Herne Bay's cultural heritage. Photo / Chris Gorman

The popular dining strip along Jervois Rd in Herne Bay is set to lose another slice of history with the removal of a large villa occupied by the Erawan Thai restaurant.

It follows the loss last year of a wooden villa on the corner of Jervois Rd and John St to make way for a four-storey concrete commercial and apartment development.

Jessica Woo has applied to Auckland Council to remove the 1905 villa on the corner of Lawrence St, which has been a Thai restaurant for 20 years and different restaurants before that.

Ms Woo, whose company Wisimca is the registered owner of the villa, could not be reached for comment about her plans for the 1616sq m site.

Plans for the site are unknown at this time, a council spokesman said.

The loss of the villa has come as a big surprise to Tatinuch Apinyanon, who took over the Erawan restaurant last month.

She has heard nothing from Ms Woo.

Western Bays Community Group spokesman Geoff Houtman said the villa was important to the heritage of Jervois Rd and the suburb.

"It's a shocker, an absolute shocker," he said.

Council planners can see no reason to save the villa because it is outside the Residential 1 heritage zone, which would require a resource consent and possibly public notification.

But councillors Mike Lee and Sandra Coney and Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers are outraged and believe the community reaction to the loss of the "significant landmark" will be huge.

Mr Houtman said losing the Erawan villa was another kick in the guts so soon after demolition of the Bethany Centre, the former Salvation Army home for pregnant women, and the removal of a villa in Francis St.

Sally Hughes, a spokeswoman for the Character Coalition of 26 heritage and community groups, said the destruction of Auckland's built heritage "bit by bit" could not continue.

- NZ Herald

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