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Demolition of Harcourts building step nearer

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012
Harcourt building
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ
The Harcourts Building on Lambton Quay is a heritage building, but it is also an earthquake risk.

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The 84-year-old heritage-listed Harcourts building in central Wellington is a step closer to demolition, after a council report recommended it be torn down.

Wellington City Council planners said the earthquake-prone building, on the corner of Lambton Quay and Grey St, was a risk to public safety.

It recommended its owner, Wellington developer Mark Dunajtschik, be granted consent to demolish it. Mr Dunajtschik has applied to the council for a demolition permit, and wants to put up a 25-storey building to match the adjoining HSBC Tower.

The planners' recommendation will go to a hearings committee to start on December 10.

Mr Dunajtschik said yesterday that the final outcome of the hearing could not be predicted.

"It will be entirely up to the commissioners. They will have the final word. It's already been a long process, that's just how the system chugs along."

The cost of earthquake-strengthening work on the category 1 listed building has been put at $10.8 million, which Mr Dunajtschik has described as not economically viable.

The loss of heritage had to be balanced with public safety and economic viability, the council report said.

Forty-eight submissions were received on the proposal to demolish the building, with 30 opposed and 18 in support.

One of those who opposed demolition, Christine Greenwood, noted it had survived quakes since 1928. Retaining it would enhance the streetscape and acknowledge Wellington's history, she said.

The Harcourts building has top-category heritage listings with both the Historic Places Trust and the city council. The council has described it as a crucial element in the Lambton Quay streetscape.

Contact Paul Easton
Hutt Valley reporter
Email: paul.easton@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @pwe74

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- The Dominion Post

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