Residents still hope for heritage housing reprieve

KASHKA TUNSTALL
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2013

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Seven years after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints confirmed that buildings on its Church College of New Zealand campus were destined to be demolished, bricks are finally beginning to fall.

Nine church-owned houses in Tuhikaramea Rd in the Temple View community have been vacated and fencing now surrounds the properties as they await demolition.

Residents were asked to vacate the white brick houses on the defunct high school campus by January 31.

A month later, the interior gutting of the houses and demolition is under way.

Demolition of ancillary buildings, carports and sheds to the rear of the properties did not need council permission and they had been reduced to piles of rubble.

But the demolition of the dwellings could be months away as Envision NZ, the church's development committee overseeing the project, waits to get approval from Hamilton City Council to knock the buildings down.

A large-scale meeting house is set to be built where the houses now stand.

An Auckland architecture firm is working on the plans but said it would be months before the work was ticked off and resource consents and building consents were applied for.

"We cannot demolish the houses until we give to the council some kind of a development in place of the houses which we don't have yet," Envision NZ director and church property administrator Kent Money said.

The church previously sought a demolition consent for buildings on the campus in 2009.

That was eventually abandoned after strong public opposition was noted in the proposal submission process.

The council has confirmed there are no current consent applications lodged for the demolition of the houses.

One Temple View resident, which The Times agreed not to name, was critical of the eviction of residents, saying it was unnecessary if demolition was still months away. Mr Money said the January deadline was to be prepared for whenever the consent was given and also because utilities, such as water supply, were going to be affected with planned upgrades to Tuhikaramea Rd.

A representative for the Temple View Heritage Society, who also spoke on the condition they not be named, said many of the residents were disappointed that demolition was going ahead.

"A lot of what I have heard is that the community isn't happy with the plans . . . they want their heritage retained."

Residents in church-owned houses on the opposite side of the road have been allowed to stay through the January 31 deadline after signing a contract with the church. It stipulates three conditions: that residents will vacate within 60 days of being notified, that they will agree to the Tuhikaramea Rd upgrade and meeting-house plans, and that they will not oppose any future submissions that the church makes to the council over other projects on the campus.

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These dwellings will eventually be knocked down to make way for new housing complexes.

Temple View residents critical of Envision NZ's work have said they are afraid to speak against the plans as they are concerned that their church membership could be revoked.

Mr Money said that was an unnecessary concern.

"I do not have influence over their membership," he said.

"What I will say is that these plans are not my plans. They have been approved by the church."

- Waikato Times

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