3 Jul 2014

Pledge to protect heritage buildings

9:18 pm on 3 July 2014

The Labour Party is promising to keep the wrecking ball away from the remaining heritage buildings in earthquake-hit Christchurch, but says that won't hinder the central city's rebuild

Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson Jacinda Ardern made the announcement in the city on Thursday, saying if elected on 20 September, Labour will audit the heritage buildings still standing see if they can be saved.

Anna Crichton and Jim Anderton.

Heritage advocates Anna Crighton and Jim Anderton. Photo: RNZ / Nicola Grigg

Almost half of the central city's heritage-listed buildings have been lost as a result of the recent damaging quakes.

Ms Ardern said the party would remove the so-called wartime powers of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, which allows the authority to bring down buildings without notification, and introduce a consultative process.

Jacinda Ardern.

Jacinda Ardern. Photo: LABOUR PARTY

Ms Ardern said Labour would also introduce a consultative process.

"We want Section 38 powers to go, so if that building comes down, it will only happen through consultation, through the public having their say through the Resource Management Act. That is the right thing to do."

Ms Ardern said too many buildings have been removed to make way for the Government's blueprint for the city - and not because they are unsafe.

She said that would guarantee buildings like ChristChurch Cathedral would not be demolished quickly, and only after consultation and a Resource Management Act process.

Former MP Jim Anderton, who is battling to prevent the demolition of the badly damaged ChristChurch Cathedral, welcomes Labour's policy as does chairperson of the Christchurch Heritage Buildings Fund, Anna Crighton, who says an audit of the remaining historic buildings should have been done long ago.

This is the fourth policy Labour has announced specific to the city's earthquake recovery. It follows a housing policy that would include rental supplements and affordable houses, rockfall protection work on the Port Hills, and the introduction of an Earthquake Court to speed up insurance grievances.