Heritage trumps safety

October 11, 2013

Quote of the day:

. . . Deaths in earthquakes are somewhat unavoidable. But deaths caused by regulatory structures that force that little value is placed on human life, or that prevent a building owner from tearing down a building very likely to kill a pile of people in a quake, are worse than tragic – they’re stupid. Offsetting Behaviour.

It’s in a post on heritage rules which make some buildings untouchable and how the burden of providing the heritage amenity falls on the owner of the building.

He has a better idea:

I’ve suggested an alternative structure where we run heritage protection as an on-budget Council expenditure. Have each Council decide how much money they’re willing to put into heritage preservation, perhaps have Central provide a matching grant, and open it up to further voluntary contributions from the public. Then, have the heritage boards decide how and where they want to spend the money – paying building owners for the amenities they provide. This would force some consideration of the cost of providing some heritage amenities and focus preservation efforts on where they’re most cost effective. . .

If the public values something private and takes away the rights of the owner, the public must be prepared to pay.

As it stands heritage is trumping both property rights and safety and this is what will happen.

The next step in the fracas that the future of the Harcourts building in Lambton Quay has become is likely to result in Wellington’s own version of the Marie Celeste, that abandoned ghost ship of the Atlantic.

After all the to-ings and fro-ings to get the only commercially viable option of demolition and rebuilding approved, the owner has pulled the plug and intends to cordon off and abandon the building for safety reasons because its heritage value is apparently unique but unaffordable to retain. . .

Buildings will be abandoned, become eyesores and still be dangerous.


Heritage trumps property rights

October 9, 2013

The Property Council is deeply disappointed with the Environment Court ruling that the heritage-listed Harcourts building in Wellington’s city centre cannot be demolished.

While public safety is an obvious concern, the decision sets a dangerous precedence for all owners of historic buildings and the wider public. It fails to consider the hefty financial cost of upgrading the building to the New Building Standard (NBS), whether feasible or not.

In many cases building owners will have the will, but not the financial ability to carry out structural work when constructions costs can often be higher than the total value of the property. The unintended consequence is for the buildings to remain standing but becoming derelict – creating a greater risk to the public. . .

In a worst case scenario for Wellington, NBS requirements mean that the buildings are left for ‘demolition by neglect’ resulting in large areas of the city left vacant and causing an economic downturn in the affected areas .

Someone with historic buildings on a farm we visited a few months ago is leaving them to be demolished by neglect.

They had a plan to restore most of them but their consent was blocked by a heritage order so now they’re doing nothing and all the buildings will eventually fall down.

“Every main street in every town in New Zealand has a Harcourts type building. The construction cost of the required works would more often than not be higher than the end value of the building,” said Property Council’s Wellington branch president Andrew Hay.

In many cases the same buildings are owned by local authorities and it is in no one’s interest to cripple the finances of small towns simply for heritage preservation.

Wellington’s local government must take into account the rights of property owners in this regard if the health of its commercial property market is to be at optimum.

Property Council calls on the Government to explore financial incentives for property owners of heritage buildings to upgrade their structures to the minimum NBS.

Allowing heritage values to trump property rights without any compensation or assistance towards funding work needed to make a building safe will cause problems all around the country.

Many owners won’t be able to afford to get their buildings up to the required standard and, even if there was a case for public funding, the country’s books aren’t in a state to do so at the moment.

Given that, safety should trump heritage values and owners should be able to demolish buildings which are unsafe.


NZ Whisky gold

September 13, 2012

The Loan and Merc, which is also known as Fleur’s Other Place*, is housed in an old warehouse in Oamaru’s historic precinct.

However, the restaurant isn’t the only tenant in the building. Upstairs the New Zealand Whisky Company,  is maturing  400 barrels of whisky two of which have won world recognition:

New Zealand has blitzed the field at a United States Whisky Olympiad, in a boost to the region’s burgeoning whisky-making credentials. Two rare whiskies from the New Zealand Whisky Collection won gold medals at the Mid West Whisky Olympics in Michigan, outperforming some of the world’s most revered whiskies from Scotland, Ireland and Canada.

The 10-year-old Dunedin DoubleWood, which is available in Australia through Dan Murphy’s, was crowned World’s Best Blended Whisky. Silver went to Canada’s Crown Royal and bronze to Jamesons of Ireland.

And the 21 year old South Island Single Malt whisky was named World’s Best Single Malt in the same competition, beating the Silver Cross from Michigan’s Journeyman Distillery and Scotland’s Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve.

The New Zealand Whiskey Collection comprises 400 barrels of stock from the country’s last distillery which closed in the 1990s. It has since been maturing in a South Island seaside warehouse.    Spokesman Greg Ramsay said the wins were a massive endorsement of its quality.

“For the Dunedin Doublewood and South Island Single Malt to beat some of the best whiskies in the world in this competition is testament to their pure, premium ingredients and the craftsmanship with which they were made,” Mr Ramsay said.

“New Zealand is starting to take its rightful place as a producer of some of the world’s great whiskies.”

* Called Fleur’s Other Place because it’s run by Fleur Sullivan of Fleurs Place fame.

Hat tip: Oamaru Life


Wheelman welcomed back

February 28, 2012

Wheelman David Wilson was welcomed back to Oamaru on Sunday  after riding from Stewart Island to Cape Reinga on his penny farthing Pioneer Spirit.

To ride the length of the country on a modern bike is no mean feat, to do the trip of more than 2,000 kilometers on a penny farthing is even more of an achievement.

The background website for the journey explains:

In 1884 when the Auckland to Wellington journey was usually made by coastal steamer and the main trunk railway was still a dream, the first bicycle ride between the two cities was accomplished by Wheelman J Fitton on a 52 inch-wheel penny farthing. Then, 123 years later during 2007, English Wheelman Joff Summerfield rode his penny farthing from Invercargill to Auckland as part of his around the world tour. Never, however, in the history of the colony has a wheelman been recorded as riding a penny farthing the entire length of the country until now. Conception for this journey occurred in 1998, with tentative planning starting in 2005.

The emphasis on the ride is that of ‘promoting awareness of the immense benefits of community economic and cultural developments’.

This ‘Aotearoa New Zealand History in the Making’ ride is being undertaken by New Zealand Wheelman and Captain of the Oamaru Ordinary Cycle Club ( OOCC), Mr David (The Judge) Wilson mounted upon ‘PIONEER SPIRIT’, an 1880s-style, 54 inch high-wheeled penny farthing bicycle replica manufactured in Oamaru, with its elevated centre of gravity, solid rubber tyres, fixed pedal system and primitive “spoon” brake. He will be wearing the breeches and knee high socks of the 1880-era bicyclist, and will be carrying only one change of clothes. He will be travelling alone, relying on his own resources and the kindness of strangers for comfort along the way, and will keep a daily log (blog) of the trip at the end of each days ride. The ride will require surviving such modern hazards as bad weather, hunger, thirst, stray animals, poor roads and encounters with inconsiderate and menacing motorists. 

 

Oamaru Life has a video of his welcome home.


Historic home for sale

December 22, 2011

One of the beautiful historic homes in our neighbourhood is for sale.

Burnside Homestead was built in the mid 1980s 1890s by John Forrester Reid. It has been owned by only two other families since then. The Hudsons bought it from the Reids in 1930 and the current owners, Alison and Bruce Albiston bought it from them in 1974.

The Albistons have lovingly renovated the house, updating it with heating and extra bathrooms in sympathy with its Victorian origins and maintained the garden and parkland with the mature trees which surround it.

The house has at least nine bedrooms, four bathrooms and two en suites, separate servants quarters, a private bedroom with en suite upstairs, a billiard room, large commercial kitchen and scullery, dining room and the grand octagonal hall with a sprung floor.

The coach house near-by was recently converted to provide two more bedrooms with a kitchen and living area.

Most of the furniture in the house is original and includes a grand piano.

The Albistons have been running the homestead as a B&B  and hosting small conferences.

Burnside is only 15 minutes from Oamaru and only a few kilometres from the route the Alps to Ocean cycle way will take.

The property is listed on TradeMe for private sale.


At the fete

November 20, 2011

The Queen of Victorian Oamaru with one of her foot soldiers and the Mayor and Mayoress.

Morris dancing.


A day at the races

November 20, 2011

North Otago is celebrating its Victorian Heritage this week.

Most people who work in the historic precinct dress up to the Victorian theme all the time. During heritage celebrations many locals and visitors also don the clothes our earliest European settlers wore.

Yesterday we spent a very enjoyable afternoon at the gala race day.

Boru provided live music:

The Queen’s guard took a break from guarding to chat to visitors:

While the Queen herself took part in, and won, a celebrity race:

 

We were treated to fine food from Sally Anne of Fat Sally’s and Portside fame, had  lots of laughs and I made an $8 profit from betting.

Today the historic precinct hosts the annual Victorian Fete and World Stone Sawing championships.


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