3 May 2014

Funds for strengthening heritage buildings urged

10:35 am on 3 May 2014

Wellington City Councillor Iona Pannett says financial assistance should be made available to heritage building owners to help them earthquake-strengthen their properties.

Harcourts Building on Lambton Quay.

Harcourts Building on Lambton Quay. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Mark Dunajtschik wants to demolish the Harcourts building in central Wellington because he cannot afford to strengthen it to meet the building code.

The Environment Court had ruled the building must stay, but Mr Dunajtschik appealed, and on Friday the High Court granted an appeal.

The Environment Court must now rehear the case, taking public safety into account.

Cr Pannett said many heritage buildings are quake-prone and a balance has to be struck between heritage and safety.

The Property Council says heritage building owners are put in impossible situations when they cannot afford quake-strengthening but are not allowed to demolish.

The Historic Places Trust says it is still reading the ruling and has not yet decided what course of action to take.