The protection of a clutch of Palmerston North's heritage houses could become effective later this month, even before their inclusion in the city's District Plan is confirmed.
City councillors yesterday recommended proposed changes to the section on the city's cultural and natural heritage that adds 15 houses and 20 trees and groups of trees to the protection lists.
Policy planner Matthew Mackay said the proposed new rules controlling any alterations, additions or demolition of heritage buildings would take effect as soon as the plan change was publicly advertised.
A change to the Resource Management Act was made five years ago to ensure that buildings with significant cultural heritage value were not lost during the consultation, hearing and decision-making process.
The same rules did not apply to notable trees or groups of trees, so their protection did not take legal effect until the process was completed.
Mr Mackay said there had already been substantial consultation with the owners of buildings proposed to be added to the list, and the owners had indicated some level of support.
Buildings already registered by the Historic Places Trust had been included regardless of owners' views, in line with requirements of the Resource Management Act.
But Cr Ross Linklater said he was worried about the erosion of people's property rights and values.
"If the property owner is not happy about a listing, they can't do anything except make a submission.
"I understand the rationale for trying to preserve parts of our history, but it's heavy-handed and I feel sorry for anyone who is set against it. I'm concerned that somebody could drive past a place and suggest it be listed, when that can have a dramatic effect on property values."
If full council agrees later this month, the proposed plan change will go out for public consultation.
- Manawatu Standard
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