Historic Places Canterbury made the following Submission to the CCC.
Historic Places Canterbury is concerned at the impact of the proposed canopy on:
- the heritage values of the square and
- the effective privatisation of a public space represented by the 6.9 metre encroachment in to the square
- as well as the impact of the proposal on the lime trees, which form part of the heritage fabric of the square, .
Although both the heritage consultant for the applicant and the Council's heritage advisor for the Council consider that the impact of the canopy on the heritage of the square is minor. Historic Places Canterbury disagrees.
Although having a building returned to this site is important for re-delinineating the form of the cruciform maltese cross, which is an essential aspect of the heritage of the square, by projecting 6.9 meters beyond the building line, this design effectively muddies the form. The Spark building proposed for the opposite side of Colombo Street adheres to the building line, so the canopy will create a visual anomaly.
It has been argued that there is precedent for verandahs projecting into the space of the square and this is certainly true. However, the height and scale of this design makes it quite different in its impact. The United Services hotel had a verandah projecting immediately above the ground floor. Viewing the building from the Square, the several stories above were what defined the edge of the cross form. The supporting columns for verandahs were also typically fine with limited impact upon the pavement, whereas these, to judge from the plan, are bulky and quite intrusive. Traditional verandah were clearly an add-on to the building and were not read as something which extended the building into the realm of public space, whereas this integrated canopy impinges on public space and by implication privatises it.
This effect is emphasised by the presence of the columns occupying space in the legal road. It will be the perception of members of the public that the space below the canopy is effectively that of the adjacent building.
Historic Places Canterbury is concerned, that not only does this proposal impinge upon the heritage of the Square, but that it will set a precedent for further intrusion into the public space of the Square. While we recognise the desirability of activity around the edges of the Square, this proposal, by creating a permanent structure which is an integral part of the building design, goes well beyond a license to put out tables and chairs.
In fact, Historic Places Canterbury is surprised that a design which intrudes to such an extent into the premier heritage space of the city, was treated as a non-notified resource consent, with the opportunity to comment only arising from the technicality that it intrudes onto a legal road.
The proposed canopy extends right up to the existing tree line of the 3 lime trees adjacent to the building. The Council arborist has indicated that these have not yet reached maturity and could double in size. It is accepted that these will require clearance pruning for construction of the verandah and ongoing maintenance pruning. The beauty of the lime trees lies in its symmetrical form. This will be severely compromised if constant pruning is required on the building side of the tree. Indeed it is not difficult to foresee that the ongoing cost of this work and the problem of leaf litter caused by the trees will before long result in pressure for their removal. Were this to happen it would be a significant loss of public amenity. If consent were to be granted,
Historic Places Canterbury believes that the Council should be responsible for the pruning to ensure that the best possible job is done, with the cost to be borne by the building owner. However, we believe that the impact of this design on the trees is such that at the very least, the canopy needs to be scaled back. Although we consider that building is an attractive addition to the city, we believe that the overhanging canopy element of the design needs to be reconsidered.