Innovative plans for kiln site sought

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 20/12/2012

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Developers, entrepreneurs and history buffs are being sought to come up with innovative plans to preserve Palmerston North's Hoffman Kiln.

The 1916 kiln in Featherston St is one of a handful of historic places in the central North Island with a category one listing, the source of bricks for many distinctive city buildings, but it is crumbling due to the lack of a comprehensive plan to secure its future.

The Palmerston North City Council has been working with owners PMB Landco, a subsidiary of Higgins, and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, to come up with a development plan for the entire 1.6-hectare site including a swathe of land around the kiln itself.

Council senior policy planner Cynthia Ward said while the three parties were collaborating, they wanted an injection of fresh ideas from people with a vision and the drive to make things happen.

It has put together a small booklet promoting the "unique heritage development opportunity" in time to sow the seeds of thought among developers and investors who might consider the idea over the summer holidays.

The design brief outlines the site's history and current issues, and calls for plans that would make it a focal point in the Roslyn community, adjoining Edwards Pit Park.

The balance of the site would be suitable for residential subdivision, group housing or a retirement village, but city planner David Murphy said there might be more creative options.

The city council has already paid for a $25,000 geotechnical and ground contaminant report to inform future developers.

It was willing to help any parties with a plan for the site with advice and help through the design process.

The trust would consider a grant to assist preservation of historic places in private ownership.

Ms Ward said a previous District Plan change application to alter the zoning of the site from industrial to residential and heritage or amenity was on hold pending the outcome of the search for fresh ideas.

The council wanted to avoid making any changes that might restrict potential uses. She said the council and trust recognised that the best security for heritage buildings was for them to be put to practical use.

"We need someone with passion and motivation, and experience with heritage buildings, to make this happen.

"There may be heritage developers out there who are not aware of this site, which is why we are trying to give it a higher profile."

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- Manawatu Standard

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