Heritage demolition views lean both ways

21:23, Aug 05 2011

Christchurch residents are divided over whether the city's quake-damaged heritage buildings should be saved.

An unscientific press.co.nz poll asked readers to vote on whether they thought Christchurch should save its heritage buildings.

The poll was held after the latest figures from the Canterbury Earthquake Authority (Cera) showed 152 heritage buildings had been approved for demolition. Another 34 buildings would be partially demolished, and only 45 had been approved for make-safe work.

Of the 1169 people who responded to The Press poll by 4pm yesterday, 351 voted that Christchurch's heritage buildings should be saved because they were what made Christchurch unique. Another 54 people said heritage buildings were vital for attracting tourists to the city.

However, 536 people said heritage buildings were too dangerous to save after the earthquakes and another 225 people said saving them would cost the city too much.

High St Precinct Group chairman Laurie Rose said the Cera bulldozer was "running rampant", but the city's heritage buildings could be made safe.

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"The ones that have been quake-strengthened have, by and large, survived; if they're [other heritage buildings] brought up to code, I don't think they would be in any way inferior."

While remediation work would be expensive, the "economic and social benefits" meant it was worthwhile. "If you say it can be remediated, the cost to do that is higher, but the city ends up with something more significantly valuable now and for future generations."

Online reader Steven Dooley, a frequent visitor to Christchurch from Australia, said the quake damage had been "heartbreaking to see".

"If a great number of the heritage buildings have to be demolished, then it should be viewed as an opportunity by authorities to plan for a new city centre of beauty, culture and refinement to do justice to what has been lost."

Julian Faigan said it was a "disaster" that so many older buildings were being bulldozed.

Reader "Mac" said it was time to "get them down and look forward".

The Press