Deputation to the Heritage and Arts Standing Committee of the Christchurch City Council

The Chair of Historic Places Canterbury made a deputation to the Christchurch City Council Heritage and Arts Standing Committee.

The text of the deputation is the following:

Deputation to the
Heritage and Arts Standing Committee
of the Christchurch City Council.
4th May  2011

Deputation made by:
Mark Gerrard Chair of Historic Places Canterbury

Thank you for allowing me to make this deputation to the Heritage and Arts Standing Committee.

Historic Places Canterbury is a newly incorporated society whose aim is to advocate and campaign for the retention of Christchurch and Canterbury’s heritage. Our existence is a result of the Government’s intention, signaled in a Bill introduced to Parliament, to disestablish the New Zealand Historic Place’s Trust Branch Committees. The Canterbury Branch of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust has taken the option to transition early into Historic Places Canterbury.  I note that in the proposed legislation amongst other actions, that the New Zealand Historic Places Trust will be renamed Heritage New Zealand.

Historic Places Canterbury is independent but affiliated to Historic Places Aotearoa a new N.G.O. (Non Governmental Organisation)

I have no doubt that in the future this Committee and the full Council will receive many heritage related representations both formal and informal via the media and the Web.

On behalf of Historic Places Canterbury I request the following:
a.    The Council review all the listed buildings on the plan and remove, or provide an indication of, those that have been demolished. The Plan, I note, still lists buildings that do not exist.
b.    There has been a substantial loss of Christchurch’s heritage from natural and man made destruction. I request there be an urgent review of all buildings with a City Plan listing of 3 and 4 and where justified they be reclassified.  I note that University of Canterbury College House [Warren and Mahoney] has a listing of only 4. There is a substantial body of work by the Architects Peter Beaven, Sir Miles Warren and others that is considered to be of national significance and they should be recognised and proudly protected by their City.
c.    The Council has over a number of years commissioned research on a number of buildings with a view, I assume, of having them listed. Historic Places Canterbury requests that it is timely to now list these buildings. A non-heritage informed observer might see it as a waste of staff time and Council resources to commission research and not act upon it.
d.    The Council actively seek to add to the City Plan buildings worthy of heritage protection. For example there are clusters of worker’s cottages that represent Christchurch’s social history and these should be retained and protected. Christchurch has a number of the post World War II Modern buildings that are not listed and should be protected for our future generations.
e.    The Council in the development of the Central City Plan [for CERA] used the word "precinct" in staff consultation. I request that design guidelines be developed to protect our character streets and suburbs.
f.    We request that for listed buildings, Resource Consent Fees be waived or refunded upon completion of work relating to earthquake damage. The owners of heritage buildings should not be penalised for taking responsibility of their building on behalf of the city.
g.    In respect to owners of listed buildings which are red stickered or whose access is restricted and unoccupied, I request that they have full rates remission until the building is repaired or able to be occupied. A number of heritage buildings have no services and the owners are living elsewhere so they are paying twice for Council services.
h.    There are a number of listed buildings whose future is very uncertain as the owners, the body corporates review their options. I note Cranmer Courts (Normal school) and the Peterborough Centre (Teachers’ College) are under review and their future is uncertain. I request that this Committee urgently conduct a review of incentives for the owners so that we may retain what few heritage buildings we have left! The Council staff would then be empowered and able to offer realistic financial incentives instead of being restricted to offering advice and the possibility of grants.
i.    It is common knowledge that the Council Heritage staff have been tenacious in their advocating for the retention of Christchurch’s heritage buildings and helping secure professional advice etc for the owners of these very special heritage treasures. I commend the staff for their dedication and I assume this Committee has formally acknowledged their often-tireless work.
j.    Funding be made available to owners of character homes to aid in the retention or repair of their houses.

In addition I would like to remind the Committee that I made a personal deputation to the Committee on December 2011 specifically asking for:

"2.   Request the Standing Committee agree to financial incentives for Heritage/ Character Building and House owners. It would be effective if the Council Heritage Unit worked directly with building owners to bed-in incentive packages. Provision might include the waiving of C.C.C. rates and Resource Consent fees etc whilst a listed or CCC Heritage Unit endorsed character building is restored. “

Retention of heritage / character buildings will ensure an early start to the Central City’s regeneration.

3.   Request of the Standing Committee to ask for reports [including interim reports and proposed solutions, discussions etc] on the condition/ damage of all the Council's listed buildings be made available to the public. The reports to include the cost of repairing/ conservation/ restoration and any short fall in insurance coverage and the funds required for full restoration."

I have received no communication from the Council informing me of the Council's response / decisions / actions etc to my deputation. This is very surprising and I hope it is an oversight. I am in not any way implying it is the fault of the staff, who are responsible for administrative support. (I have found XXXX XXXX and latterly XXXX XXXX to be approachable, efficient and most helpful.)
Could I request that I be promptly sent copies of staff reports, committee decisions and recommendations that are in response to my deputations.

In addition I find the Heritage media silence of this Committee to be surprising, even when one considers the vagaries of the news judgement of the media. Historic Places Canterbury is looking forward to hearing/ seeing, and encourages this Committee to fulfil its public leadership role in saving, lobbying CERA and celebrating the unique Christchurch Heritage that is left!

Mark Gerrard
Chair Historic Places Canterbury

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