Heritage structures may be affected

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 09:50 15/08/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Christchurch's dwindling heritage stock may be in the firing line during the city's rebuild, with officials unable to confirm whether any buildings will have to make way for new central-city facilities.

More than a quarter of the heritage structures that are still standing in the central city could be affected by the Government's rebuild blueprint, the Historic Places Trust says.

The trust, which maintains a register of heritage buildings, said 31 of 120 remaining central-city heritage buildings and sites were within project areas outlined in the Christchurch Central Development Unit's blueprint.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) chief executive Roger Sutton said it was "possible" that the Government would need to acquire heritage buildings to make way for facilities in the blueprint. He said it was too soon to say what would happen to any heritage buildings that were bought.

"This will be determined in the coming months as the Government works through the process of purchasing the land it requires."

Cera did not have any specific policy for heritage buildings in blueprint areas but would "certainly" consider a building's heritage value when deciding whether it could be retained, he said.

Trust southern regional general manager Rob Hall said heritage buildings would be an important part of the new central city.

"If you look at the most successful cities in the world, they often have a real mix of old and new, and I think Christchurch has to have that."

He said retaining heritage buildings would "keep people grounded" and provide a reminder of the city's past.

"To retain a link to our past is a really, really important mission, and if you look at buildings like the Arts Centre, I think that really will anchor people to the place," he said.

The trust had been involved in "high-level discussions" with Cera officials about the central city's heritage buildings and was confident that most affected sites would be retained.

"If you look at the vision for some of these areas, like the innovation precinct, undoubtedly some of the old buildings will remain," he said.

"There's certainly no plan for the CCDU to bulldoze it down to a blank slate."

The trust estimated that 56 central-city heritage buildings had been demolished.

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