Chorus rises against CERA's plans to bowl good buildings
Historic Places Canterbury, IConIC and Christchurch Civic Trust have jointly spoken out about unnecessary destruction of remaining Christchurch buildings.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority’s Central City Development Unit blueprint envisages bulldozing brand-new buildings as well as older and heritage properties.
In a prepared statement, the groups highlighted several well known buildings in the sights of the CCDU’s wrecking ball.
“We also note the number of substantial, undamaged buildings in the CCDU Frame, including Torrens House (NatColl Hse owned by listed National Property Trust), designed by the Ministry of Works to house Government Departments in the 1980s and representing then state-of-the-art seismic design.
“With the loss of so much infrastructure in Christchurch the destruction of this and other sound buildings is untenable.
“It is a well-recognised principle that the greenest building is the one that already exists. Demolition of re-useable buildings to satisfy a medium-term planning goal at a significant cost to tax payers is insupportable profligacy.
“While we recognise the good intentions underpinning the concept of the Frame’s green space, retention of sound and restorable buildings within the Frame will respect property rights, retain valuable infrastructure, preserve heritage and promote sustainability.”
Other notable older buildings that survived include Ng Gallery in Madras St, ex-Millers/Civic Offices in Tuam St, Odeon Theatre in Tuam St, Lawrie and Wilson building (CCC Parking unit) in Tuam St, the Pavilion building at 218 Cashel St, the Majestic Theatre building in Lichfield St, the Christchurch Town Hall in Kilmore St and the National Bank (former Cook and Ross) building on Colombo and Armagh St corner.
"The development of the green Frame offers the opportunity to define the scope of the CBD in an exciting way, but this must not be at the expense of the few remaining city heritage buildings in this area."
The group highlighted the benefits of retaining existing buildings as highlighted in the city council’s own annual plan:
- Economic benefit from local and overseas tourist patronage.
- Incubation of local business initiatives – the Ng Gallery described as an exemplar.
- Richness of civic experience: past/present/future; transfer of city memory.
- Recognition of city architectural tradition.
- Retention of touchstones for a sense of social belonging and cohesion.
“It need not be an either or outcome … heritage landmarks should be considered as much anchor keys to the future as the planned major facilities are," it says.