City's heritage buildings to be discussed

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013
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Poll: The Southland Heritage Building and Preservation Trust will meet the Invercargill City Council to discuss the future of heritage buildings in the city's central business district.

Trust member Mick Hesselin called for the trust's general meeting yesterday to not only discuss the future of heritage buildings, but also to discuss how the council could support building owners.

"There is just no way the owners can afford to pay for all of the costs of upgrading their properties and get feasible rental returns," Mr Hesselin said.

He had compiled a list of heritage buildings he considered to be essential to the survival of Invercargill, which he would take to the council for discussion.

"There are quite a few magnificent buildings that are significant to Invercargill," he said.

"There are some buildings we won't be able to afford to save.

"It's a case of sitting round a table and formulating ideas that might work."

Trust member and Invercargill City councillor Lloyd Esler agreed discussions between the trust and council needed to be opened.

"I would be keen to work through the list council has, compare it to the list the trust has, and discuss the options, where we rank the top priority buildings," Cr Esler said.

He said the "looming CBD upgrade" was a deadline of sorts. The fate of Esk St buildings that could have earthquake risks or heritage status should be addressed before the upgrade started.

"You don't want to start upgrading the area, only to find you have to knock down buildings and end up with giant gaps. You just don't know what the streetscape is going to be.

"I would like to see heritage buildings provided for in the upgrade budget, which I understand could be up to $12.6 million."

Cr Esler said the council did not want to reach deeply into its pockets to subsidise the buildings.

Council director of environmental planning and services Pamela Gare said the council would be happy to meet with the trust.

She said no action had been taken, or assessments started, because council was still waiting for the Government to put the new standards into legislation.

"We don't want to start assessing buildings only for the rules to change half way through," Mrs Gare said.

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