Media Release from Historic Places Canterbury, IConIC and Christchurch Civic Trust- Heritage and the CCDU Blueprint

Historic Places Canterbury, IConIC and Christchurch Civic Trust are extremely concerned at the likely impact the implementation of the CCDU Blueprint will have on what little remains of heritage buildings in the CBD.
The development of the green frame offers the opportunity to define the scope of the CBD in an exciting way, but this must not be at the expense of the few remaining city heritage buildings in this area.
We call for carefully reasoned and debated investigations into the aspects of the Blueprint which, as drafted, would mean the removal of key remaining heritage stock, already so drastically depleted since February 2011.
Specific buildings about which we are very concerned include:
Ng Gallery building, Madras St
Former Millers / Civic Offices building, Tuam St
The Odeon Theatre, Tuam St
Lawrie and Wilson building (CCC Parking unit), Tuam St
Pavilion building, 218 Cashel St
The Majestic Theatre building, Lichfield St
Christchurch Town Hall
National Bank (former Cook and Ross) building, Colombo and Armagh St

These and other heritage buildings represent a number of important values which the CCDU has not fully recognized, but which were implicit in “Have a Say”, 2011 and the CCC Draft Plan, both of which gave considerable emphasis to heritage:

  •     Economic benefit from local and overseas tourist patronage
  •     Incubation of local business initiatives  - Ng Gallery building exemplar
  •     Richness of civic experience: past / present / future; transfer of city memory
  •     Recognition of city architectural tradition
  •     Retention of touchstones for a sense of social belonging and cohesion

The Press, 4.8.12, reports Don Miskell’s answer to the charge that the Blueprint shows virtually no respect for history or heritage as “the emphasis is certainly on planning for Christchurch’s future” and “the earthquakes have presented an opportunity to connect the city more clearly to its even more distant past”.
But, as with many aspects of post-quake recovery, it need not be an either / or outcome; while the Blueprint is clearly about the future Christchurch, the city will be unnecessarily diminished if further heritage landmarks are to be demolished. They should, in fact, be considered as much anchor keys to the future as the planned major facilities are.
Historic Places Canterbury, IConIC and Christchurch Civic Trust urge open CCDU-led discussion with all interested parties in this very important aspect of the development of the future Christchurch.
We also note the number of substantial, undamaged buildings in the CCDU Frame including Torrens House, designed by the Ministry of Works to house Government Departments in the 1980s and representing then ‘state of the art’ seismic design.  With the loss of so much infrastructure in Christchurch the destruction of this and other sound buildings is untenable.  It is a well-recognised principle that the greenest building is the one that already exists; demolition of re-useable buildings to satisfy a medium-term planning goal at a significant cost to tax payers is insupportable profligacy.  While we recognise the good intentions underpinning the concept of the Frame’s green space, retention of sound and restorable buildings within the Frame will respect property rights, retain valuable infrastructure, preserve heritage and promote sustainability.

Ross Gray (HPC)
Ian Lochhead     (IConIC)
Neil Roberts (Civic Trust)

Comments are closed.