Villa owners must 'go easy' on repairs

Owners of older houses in Helensville are likely to have restrictions placed on what they can and can't do to their homes under a new policy aimed at preserving the town's heritage.

The policy, set to be approved by Auckland Council's Regional Development and Operations Committee on Thursday, would mean owners of the mostly Victorian and Edwardian houses in the older part of the township will face stricter building and renovation controls. 

Heritage homes listed in the policy include 19th century cottages and villas, Edwardian and other villas, and Californian bungalows. 

The new guidelines for changing those houses include trying to preserve the original external appearance and important interior features, trying to preserve, as much as possible, the original layout of the rooms, not "over restoring - make sure the house still looks like an old building in good condition", and "going easy on features".

New houses don't need to be replicas of the older buildings.

The rules would come into affect once the council makes a change to the District Plan.

An agenda for the committee meeting says Helensville developed as a rural service town and port based on milling and shipping nearby kauri. The timing of the boom means much of its residential housing is of the Edwardian and Victorian eras.

"Modernisation of amenities is not the same as modernising the appearance of the house. The replacement of original features such as windows with modern aluminium versions can be disastrous for an old house."

The agenda says the Kiwi "tradition" of improving older homes through alterations and additions has resulted in a change to many houses in Helensville.

"While this has resulted in some erosion of historic character, the appearance of Helensville is still that of a Victorian town, and this is part of the town's appeal and a feature worth preserving as it grows."

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