Editorial: All talk and no action on heritage homes

The 130-year-old cottage in Paget St, Freemans Bay. Photo / Dean Purcell
The 130-year-old cottage in Paget St, Freemans Bay. Photo / Dean Purcell

Councils routinely talk about their determination to protect heritage houses. The acid test always lies in their actions. In that regard, a deplorable recent history of inappropriate demolition and development gives the Auckland Council more cause than most to back up its words.

All the more reason, therefore, for disappointment over figures that reveal a higher percentage of applications to demolish homes in the city's character suburbs have been approved under Mayor Len Brown's leadership than under his predecessor, John Banks.

Worse still, council officers are resisting plans by the council's heritage advisory panel for urgent action to tighten the rules and give the public a voice in demolition applications. In the vast majority of cases, these are not publicly notified.

The bedding in of the Super City has probably granted them room to prolong an arrogance that was evident again this week in artist Stanley Palmer description of "talking to a pile of concrete".

But so, too, has the council's limiting of local board input and Mr Brown's insistence that the issue should be tackled by a unitary plan on heritage protection. Unfort-unately, that is about two years away.

At the present rate, this means the demolition of a further 30 homes without the local community having a meaningful say.

That is untenable. Immediate action is necessary to preserve houses that deserve to be saved and to give local neighbourhoods a reasonable voice in that process.

- NZ Herald

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