Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Anger as old Hillary villa removed

Mt Eden protesters outraged but Auckland Council says developer is acting within rules.

Paving stones from the drive are stacked at the side of the property at 20 Herbert Rd, Mt Eden. The villa was built for Sir Edmund Hillary's maternal grandmother in 1908. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Paving stones from the drive are stacked at the side of the property at 20 Herbert Rd, Mt Eden. The villa was built for Sir Edmund Hillary's maternal grandmother in 1908. Photo / Sarah Ivey

A century-old villa in Herbert Rd, built for Sir Edmund Hillary's grandmother, will be removed by the end of next month so it can be replaced with townhouses.

Residents of Mt Eden, outraged at losing what they see as an important part of the neighbourhood's heritage, have been protesting against the move and even brokered a meeting between the developer and Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

But Manatu St resident Lucille Peters said negotiations had fallen flat and the developer had indicated the house would be gone by January 18.

"[Mr Brown] has been working with the developer trying to come up with different options so that he could keep the villa but put another house at the back but that obviously hasn't worked," she said. "They're already pulling up the driveway and digging up all the bricks and stuff."

The protesters have questioned the developer's right to remove the house, but Auckland Council insists the developer is acting within the rules.

"All the odds are in the developer's favour and none are in the community's," Ms Peters said.

"I'm fielding endless calls from people saying 'shall we occupy the house and chain ourselves to it'."

The four-bedroom villa was built for Sir Edmund's maternal grandmother, Harriet Clarke, in 1908.

The property was sold by artist John Horner and his wife, Jeanette Hayward, for $2,615,000, nearly $1 million above its 2011 government valuation of $1.65 million.

Mr Horner said in October he did not know about the plan to remove the building until after the sale.

"Herbert Rd is not a heritage street such as Burnley Tce and it's listed as 6A which [means] you can do what you want with it," he said.

The historic villa was being relocated to Warkworth to become another family's home. "It's a nice big section. It's the best scenario if they're going to move it, that we know where it is and that it's going to a good place," Mr Horner said.

"I don't think it's the buyer [that's to blame]. His intentions are good and we have a good relationship with him. I think the architect had the designer building three properties there."

In 2011, Sir Ed's Remuera family home was moved so a neighbour could extend his garden.

The house, built by Sir Ed and his wife, Louise, in 1956, was shifted to an Otara school where it became the Sir Edmund Hillary Leadership Centre.

APNZ

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a2 at 22 Sep 2014 05:17:34 Processing Time: 466ms