The following is the text of an article, that appeared in the September Oculus (2021) authored by Felicity Wong, providing an overview of the HPA Submission. (Felicity Wong is the Historic Places Wellington Chair and is a recent HPA Exec Member.)
HPA made a submission on government's draft “General Policy on Housing and Urban Development (GPS-HUD). The policy will “communicate the long-term vision for [the] housing and urban development system, and how Government will work with others to make it happen.”
It was, therefore, disappointing the policy neither mentioned built heritage nor reflected the value of heritage buildings in the context of urban development. HPA submitted that: Heritage buildings are important for urban wellbeing, and provide an important sense of identity and place. Heritage buildings are critical to maintaining wellbeing and identity, and memory.
In our view, heritage buildings are good for association and connection with towns and cities and in creating liveable places. They layer architectural interest and beauty within our urban fabric for many to enjoy.
HPA recognised the need for an increase in affordable housing supply, and supported the policy direction towards increased government building programmes and density in appropriate places.
We drew the Government’s attention to the role that repurposing and reusing heritage buildings can play in increasing housing supply.
HPA wants the Government to be a leader in this field, and notes such initiatives as the recent UK architects’ campaign to “RetroFirst” aimed at reuse, refurbish and retrofit buildings rather than simply throwing them away. Award-winning French contemporary architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Phillippe Vassal have a philosophy : “Never demolish, never remove or replace.”
HPA’s submission encouraged recognition of this wider issue about sustainability within the context of urban development goals.
HPA hopes the diversity of built heritage can be woven into the Government’s policy given that it’s apparently “intended to provide a shared vision and direction across housing and urban development, to guide and inform the actions of all those who contribute”.
The Final "Statement On Housing And Urban Development (GPS-HUD)" has been released.
FelicityWong's commentary is the following:
“It’s welcome to see some note taken of the increasing importance of adaptive reuse of old & heritage buildings for helping to increase supply of housing. They often have sturdy, enduring materials, including native timber, which can be strengthened and updated to provide great living spaces.”