City's old houses may be for keeps

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 09:00 01/02/2014

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Another 15 houses representing aspects of Palmerston North's history are in line to be identified and protected under the city's District Plan.

Recognition of their role as examples of the city's residential heritage is proposed in a change to the cultural and natural heritage section of the plan.

City council policy planner Matthew Mackay said a review of the buildings already listed for their heritage value showed a wide range of commercial and public buildings were recognised, but not many houses.

The houses already listed did not capture a cross section of the variety of styles through the decades.

From a list of a further 46 houses considered, 15 had been selected following research, assessment and discussions with owners.

One of the homes likely to be included in the list that goes out for public consultation later this month is 41 Te Awe Awe St, a 1930s example of Neo-Georgian design.

Owner Bill Pettiford, who has carried out significant restoration of the home, said he was delighted it was likely to be protected from future additions or alterations.

"I'm proud of it. It's part of history, and I like that feeling that I'm connected to the historical fabric of the city, and to the past owners."

The layout of the garden and grounds was an integral part of making the most of the home's authentic style and appeal.

Mr Pettiford said he had expected to live in the house for a long time, but he had recently married, the house was no longer big enough, and it was on the market.

He was not worried that having controls on future changes to the house could restrict future owners' options. "I want to see it protected. I don't want someone else steamrolling it."

Owners would be allowed to carry out internal maintenance, repairs and alterations as normal, but any plans to demolish, partially demolish or alter the outside appearance would need a resource consent.

Mr Mackay said the proposed plan changes were realistic about allowing changes to heritage buildings so they could be used for new purposes, in a way that preserved their important features into the future. "Heritage buildings are not always museum pieces."

The assessment of the Te Awe Awe St home by council consultants Ian Bowman and Val Burr describes the house as having high local significance for its cultural heritage values.

It was also valuable as an example of the work of nationally recognised and influential Christchurch architects, Helmore and Cotterill.

Mr Mackay said there were plenty of other houses, and even whole streets, that had been suggested as worthy of recognition.

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Others would be considered in future, but for the moment, council staff were advising to make a start where there were supportive owners.

In other proposed changes, the list of non-residential heritage buildings had been reviewed. One, the All Saints church hall, was to be deleted after it was destroyed by arson.

Another seven that were already recognised on the New Zealand Historic Places Register, such as the former police station on Church St, were proposed to be added.

The plan change also proposes changes to the list of notable trees and groups of trees, with 13 dropped and another 20 added.

Some indigenous bush remnants would be reclassified as habitats of local significance, recognising that Horizons Regional Council had taken over responsibility for protecting indigenous biodiversity that was rare, threatened or at risk.

The part of Section 17 of the plan that dealt with sites and objects of cultural significance to Maori would remain unchanged until the planning framework for Tangata Whenua and Resource Management was developed.

"This plan change is about methods, and we can't advance that until we have established what we are trying to achieve."

The council's planning and policy committee will discuss the draft of Proposed Plan Change 13 on Monday.

- Manawatu Standard

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