Life ebbing for heritage buildings

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 08/06/2011

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Nearly 50 heritage buildings have been demolished since the February earthquake, with hundreds more at risk.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) figures show that by Friday, 49 heritage buildings had been demolished, with another 12 either partly demolished or made safe.

Many of the demolitions were in Lyttelton and Sydenham, with one block of 10 heritage buildings in Colombo St razed. Six buildings in London St in Lyttelton have been demolished, with another four flattened on Norwich Quay.

A list released last week showed that at least 104 heritage buildings had been approved for demolition, with another 46 to be partly demolished or made safe. About 500 buildings have been approved for demolition or partial demolition but the final number is expected to reach 1300 and will probably include hundreds of heritage buildings.

Notable buildings already razed include the category 1 heritage-listed St Paul's Church in Cashel St, Charlie B's Backpackers in Madras St and the Carlton Hotel on the Papanui Rd-Bealey Ave corner. Others awaiting the wrecking ball include The Press building in Cathedral Square, St Luke's Church in Manchester St and Kenton Chambers in Hereford St.

The Sydenham Heritage Trust was set up to preserve heritage buildings along Colombo St, but deputy chairman Neil Roberts said the quake and subsequent demolitions had left almost nothing to preserve.

"The spine of heritage is lost and it is never going to come back," he said.

Roberts, who is also deputy chairman of the Christchurch Civic Trust, said he was concerned that many heritage building were being demolished too hastily and without public transparency.

Christchurch heritage advocate Anna Crighton said the scale of what had already been lost was devastating. There were about 600 heritage buildings in Christchurch and many would be demolished, she said.

Talks had begun on preserving New Regent St and parts of High St, she said.

Iconic, a group of building owners and heritage advocates headed by Christchurch Central Labour MP Brendon Burns, has released a list of 42 heritage buildings and features that should be saved.

The Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Building Trust Board, which Crighton heads, has received about $4.5 million in donations to help save significant heritage buildings – a fund that the Government will match dollar for dollar.

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- The Press

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