Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Shopping plan threatens historic hotel facade

The Queens Head Tavern on Queen Street. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Queens Head Tavern on Queen Street. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The ornate facade of the historic Queens Head Tavern survived Auckland's 1987 property boom but now faces a fresh threat.

The owner of the blue-tinted Queen St glass tower which the facade fronts wants to modernise its four-level base and demolish what's left of the 1884 hotel that once stood on the site opposite the Auckland Town Hall.

Keeping the feature was part of the 1987 resource consent for the 17-floor building after 700 people objected to the whole tavern being demolished.

But it does not fit in with AQM's plan to redevelop the base for a 41-shop arcade and 86 car parks.

Yesterday independent commissioners Harry Bhana and John Hill said the resource consent application to the Auckland Council should be notified for a public hearing.

They said although this would probably draw subjective and emotive submissions it was also likely to provoke wider discussion about alternative methods of dealing with the historically significant facade.

As part of the notification process, the Historic Place Trust would be alerted.

Trust heritage architecture adviser Robin Byron told the council hearings committee the facade was the work of architects Edward Mahoney & Son.

Although the tavern was registered as a Category II historic place, no review had been carried out on the surviving piece to assess whether it warranted that registration.

Ms Byron said the 1988 building and the facade had an "unfortunate and incongruous relationship".

A report in the Herald in January 1987 said the tavern was being demolished because developer Mayfair Corporation and Argus Group withdrew their application for permission to increase floor space of the building after it attracted almost 700 objections.

The report said a group which wanted to restore the tavern believed the withdrawal was to shut out public participation.

It quoted the developer as saying that parts of the facade had been altered from time to time but it nevertheless wanted it preserved to front a restaurant planned for the building.

At the time, Auckland experienced a feverish rate of construction and developers tried to soothe opposition by offering to keep the facades of buildings they demolished.

THE FACADE

* 1884 hotel built on Queen St
* 1987 demolished in building boom
* 1988 facade fused to office tower
* 2012 consent sought to remove it.

- NZ Herald

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