Heritage sector warns against rushed demolition decisions

2:28 pm on 6 March 2011

The International Council on Monuments and Sites says talk of razing heritage buildings in Christchurch is highly premature.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has signalled that all but a few of the city's heritage buildings will have to go.

He has identified as likely to be rebuilt the Christchurch Cathedral, the Provincial Chambers, the Arts Centre and the Catholic Basilica, and says there may be a few others.

The council's New Zealand chair, Kevin Jones, says it does not want to see the destruction of every partly damaged heritage building.

He says there needs to be a process of evaluating buildings and their engineering status.

"We want to see proper historic heritage advice incorporated into the decision-making from heritage experts and from engineers with a sympathy for heritage."

Wellington architectural conservator Ian Bowman says given that heritage buildings are the heart and soul of Christchurch, comprehensive assessments are needed.

"They should probably ring-fence ... the key heritage buildings in Christchurch and wait for good structural advice, wait for good conservation advice, and then try and fund-raise to rebuild them."

Auckland conservation architect Adam Wild says the Government should keep in mind that once heritage is gone, it is gone for good.

Approval needed before demolition

Civil Defence says approval must be sought before the owners of commercial or residential buildings carry out demolitions.

It says the first point of contact for those with buildings anywhere within Christchurch City or Banks Peninsula should be the Civil Defence Deconstruction Team.

A process is being set up with police and search and rescue officials to clear all potential demolition sites before work begins to pull down a building.

Civil Defence says this is because there may be people still unaccounted for in areas outside the central city cordon.