An Auckland heritage building consultant says the city is fast losing much of its history because only the outside of many structures is being retained but the council has defended its position on developments.

Allan Matson said it was wrong that a new spate of "facadism" had emerged this month with plans to demolish all but the facade of the Arthur Yates Building at 13 Albert St and everything except the outside of the Macdonald Halligan Motors building at 51 Albert St.

The old Macdonald Halligan Motors building at 51 Albert St, where only the facade will be kept.
The old Macdonald Halligan Motors building at 51 Albert St, where only the facade will be kept.

Both buildings have category B protection under the Unitary Plan but that is not high enough to protect the whole building in those cases, he said.

That follows a series of "facadomies" at the BNZ at 125 Queen St, the new BNZ premises on the site of what was the old Jean Batten Building, the Queen's Head Tavern building further up Queen St and a heritage facade retained on the site of the Berlei Building at the NZ International Convention Centre, he said.

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But Rebecca Fogel, Auckland Council acting heritage manager, said much of the city's heritage had been kept.

"We believe that retaining Auckland's built heritage is important and have obligations under the Resource Management Act to protect it. This protection occurs through the Unitary Plan, which regulates development of heritage places by ensuring that scheduled historic heritage places are protected from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development," she said.

"Façade retention projects are extremely complex and each case must be considered on its merits. When determining whether façade retention projects are an appropriate heritage outcome, the relevant heritage rules and reasons for scheduling, the condition of the building, the architectural design of the new proposal and the underlying zoning must all be considered."

Heritage experts might disagree about whether heritage values were protected, she said, but the resource consent process was based on whether the Unitary Plan objectives were met.

"The former Dexter & Crozier building at 51-53 Albert Street and the Yates Building at 13 Albert Street are both scheduled as Category B places. In both cases the interiors are excluded from scheduling, so it is just the exterior of each building that is protected. At 51-53 Albert Street, consent was recently granted for partial demolition of the heritage building and construction of a new tower," she said.

"The Yates Building was still in the pre-application stage, and the design has not yet been finalised or consented, she said.