St Heliers Spanish mission houses demolished

00:14, Jan 28 2011
St Heliers demolition
Demolition begins on the third of three Spanish mission houses in St Heliers.
St Heliers demolition
Spanish mission houses are demolished despite protests in Auckland suburb St Heliers.
St Heliers demolition
Spanish mission houses are demolished despite protests in Auckland suburb St Heliers.
St Heliers demolition
Georgie Malone, left, and Audrey van Ryn watch the demolition of the houses at St Heliers.

Three Spanish mission style homes in Auckland are being demolished this morning after all efforts to save them failed, the final one being in the Environment Court yesterday.

Protesters been fighting for months to save the houses on Turua St in St Heliers.

Workers have arrived and demolition is underway.

Two of the three buildings had gone by 8.30am.

A small group of protesters were on the scene tearfully watching the destruction.

Three police officers and a media pack were also present.

Yesterday the Environment Court declined the enforcement order sought by lobby group Save Our St Heliers.

The group was hoping the court would put the demolition on hold while a full heritage assessment was carried out to determine if the homes should have heritage status.

This means developer Michael Markham will be able to continue with the demolition of the controversial buildings and go ahead with plans for a three story mixed-use development which will take up the entire eastern side of the street.

Richard Brabant, the lawyer for the developers Mike and Sandra Markham, said the couple were happy to be able to proceed with their development.

Brabant says the Environment Court was obliged to reach the decision it did because there was no evidence the houses were of any heritage value.

He says he has yet to talk to Mr and Mrs Markham about whether they will seek compensation from the society for the "significant legal costs" the couple have incurred.

A decision on the fate of the houses was expected yesterday however proceedings took longer than expected and the judge reserved his decision for today.

The Save Our St Heliers Society campaigned for the halt in demolition of the three 1930s Spanish mission houses on Turua Street.

The Environment court issued an injunction last week demanding work be stopped until last Monday.

The injunction was extended until today so the Environment Court could hear the case from those fighting to see the houses preserved.

Protesters argued the decision to remove the buildings' character status was based on incomplete information as a full heritage assessment has never been carried out.

Richard Brabant, the lawyer for the developer, said yesterday a heritage assessment was completed by the council's principal heritage adviser, which did not support saving the houses which were in poor condition.