Picket over Herne Bay villa removal

23:52, Oct 14 2012

Residents of upmarket suburb Herne Bay will picket tomorrow morning against the removal or demolition of a historic villa in the area.

Auckland Council is understood to have approved an application to remove or dismantle the 1905 villa on the corner of Lawrence St which has been has been used as a Thai restaurant for two decades - currently called Erawan Thai.

Western Bays Residents Association chairman Geoff Houtman said the building was one of a group of similar villas on the north side of Jervois Rd which form an "integral part of the historic Herne Bay streetscape".

Houtman said the building's owner had been given five years to complete the job which would destroy "a piece of the area's unique history forever".

A picket is planned for 7.30am. The association has also collected hundreds of signatures which they will present to Mayor Len Brown and his deputy, Penny Hulse, next Thursday following their upcoming Character Coalition meeting.

Herne Bay Residents Association Inc secretary Christine Cavanagh has written to the building's owner seeking a meeting to discuss ways to save it.

"It's a difficult situation because the owner is not acting outside the law. We would, however, like to sit down with the owner and leading architects to see whether there are ways the building can be saved which also work for the owner," she said.

As well as being a hospitality icon, the building has been used as a location for film and television work and the late Billy T James has been photographed outside. The picket comes as the council appointed two independent commissioners last week to decide the fate of another Herne Bay villa.
An application has been made concerning a pre-1940s English bungalow at 12 Cremorne St.

The council's Hearings Committee said they appointed the commissioners because of public opposition and media attention over the removal and destruction of other homes and buildings of historical significance in Auckland.

Last year, a property on the corner of Jervois Rd and John St was moved to make way for a commercial and apartment development.


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