Dr Ian Lochhead has generously provided the text of his letter published in The Press. (16th July 2013)
The fact that CERA has issued a Section 38 notice allowing the demolition of McLean’s Mansion, one of New Zealand’s largest and most extraordinary houses, is a clear indication that Government places little value on the part heritage has to play in the Christchurch recovery. There can be no justification for this action since the building is of no danger to the public and nor is it impeding the wider recovery. The building’s owners have simply found its repair to be beyond their capacity. This situation also reflects on CERA’s failure to develop and implement the Built Heritage Recovery Plan that was signalled in its 2011 Draft Recovery Strategy. The Ministry of Culture and Heritage was responsible for producing this plan, but apart from a draft scoping document given limited circulation in December 2011, it has singularly failed to deliver. In the absence of any active heritage policy from CERA is it any wonder that heritage buildings of national significance (McLean’s mansion is registered as category one by the NZHPT) continue to be demolished. Or is it CERA’s policy not to have a policy and to treat heritage as expendable? Unless CERA can provide a credible explanation for its failure to deliver on its heritage objectives, as stated in Section 126.96.36.199 of its current Recovery Strategy, that is the only conclusion we can reach.