St Heliers houses to be demolished

The Environment Court has rejected an application for an enforcement order to prevent Ancona Group from demolishing a row of St Heliers properties.

Judge Laurie Newhook said while he sympathised with those trying to save the houses, “sadly” he could not find that the demolition would have an adverse effect on the seaside environment of St Heliers which he had earlier described as a 19th century model seaside suburb.

Judge Newhook sent a clear message to opponents of development and the general public that timely action was always required in such sensitive community issues.

"There have been opportunities in the past, not taken up, for interested members of the public to advocate for these houses," Judge Newhook said.

Relieved developer Mike Markham – who had delayed onsite work for a month to allow further heritage assessment – told NBR the challenge had cost “an awful lot of money”. He was glad it was now over and work could proceed.

“We were right all along,” Mr Markham said.

As at 4.30pm there was no demolition work had begun at the site. A small group of protestors at the scene reacted with shock and dismay to the decision this afternoon and were seen consoling each other.

Protestor Jana Wood said : "We may have lost the battle but we haven't lost the war."

Members of the group said they had received support from people inside and outside St Helirs community and felt the incident had galvanised the wider movement towards protection of heritage sites around Auckland.

Save our St Heliers group member Jo Woon said it was a pyrrhic victory for St Heliers. Jana Wood said St Heliers was a divided community.

The judge granted an interim enforcement order last Thursday while bulldozers were at the site, and extended it to 5pm today while parties made their cases.

However, today he declined to make an enforcement order that would’ve saved the houses – albeit temporarily – from demolition.

Judge Newhook said he recognised his decision would come as a great disappointment to the Society.

"Sadly, it is not sufficient in the current analysis to acknowledge that the buildings are much liked or even loved, by a section of society.

"I know this will come as a considerable disappointment to those who genuinely hold these buildings in affection and regard them ... as important in heritage terms.

"However, I am duty-bound to work with the evidence presented to the Court, in a principled way."

Judge Newhook said he considered that the subject matter of the case is "likely to be somewhat offensive or objectionable", he could not go so far as to find that it is likely to have "an adverse effect on the environment".

He found that there was a "dearth of information, and in particular expert opinion" that the buildings have any significant value regarding historic heritage as defined in the Resource Management Act.

At the hearing yesterday, Save Our St Heliers lawyer David Kirkpatrick expressed doubts over whether or not Auckland Council played its part correctly in the matter, particularly whether or not a heritage assessment had been made.

However, Ancona Group lawyer Richard Brabant claimed an appropriate heritage assessment had been done.

Mr Brabant said that the “eleventh hour application” by Save Our St Heliers had come at the “very tail end” of a “lengthy process” under the Resource Management Act.

Mr Brabant said no evidence exists to support a finding that the buildings have “significant heritage values”.

He said Ancona Group had followed due process and spent years involved in resource consent and plan change hearing processes.

Ancona had all the necessary consents and had organised commencement of construction.

“[Ancona Group] should not at the ‘eleventh hour’ be required to halt development activity and wait for some third party to undertake a heritage assessment, and with the prospect that the buildings remain on the site against the landowner’s wishes,” Mr Brabant said.

Ancona holds a valid resource consent allowing it to develop the properties in question and Mr Brabant pointed out that consent was granted for building demolition as a “controlled activity”.

Yesterday Mr Brabant asked that costs be reserved.

Read the full Environment Court judgement here.

NBR publisher Barry Colman funded the Save Our St Heliers group's legal costs.

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79 Comments & Questions

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EXCELLENT NEWS!

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there we go Al, I think grandads words are probably a lot clearer now to a couple of Penrose High old boys...

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Always suspicious of someone who talks in capitals. Sign of inferiority. Bully boy jetski driving mentality.

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thank god

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i dont think god had much to do with it. idiots in council, idiot lawyers, town planners the list goes on. While the buildings may not have been amazing the proposed development certainly does not set the world on fire and is something that future generations will have to live with. Cant stop progress but if we are to progress lets at least build something with some architectural merit.

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Great news, some common sense at last.

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They are ugly old shacks and should go. What a waste of time and money. St Heliers will look back and shake its head when it has a revitalised eastern end.

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At last!! Common sense prevails.
Tree-huggers, take heart -- there are plenty of lamp posts to offer succour.

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Common sense at play ! You wont see a comment from Penny Bright !

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Take a close (last) look at these houses. I mean, they're not exactly La Pedrera, are they.

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I hope a marae is being planned at the site to reinforce to the St Heliers good people their rich NZ culture and heritage.

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What is this country coming to! I'm returning to Cuba.

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In Cuba the state would have ordered their retention and ensured they became a hazard.

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What a great result !!!

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I hope you all realise that that is not tthe real (unreal?) Penny Bright - it is a forgery (why??)

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I doubt you are going....keep on talking, and not taxable too.

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A victory for common sense

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yea, get st......ffed and makgedea money ,
thts all that counts.money money moeny
culture can go to de pigs and we can hunt them and eta de pigs

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You are right, money is needed for the taxman, then on to the beneficiaries...

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The busy bodies of St Helliers may have brought the protest into fashion, but they should have busied themsevles earlier and properly through the system. God knows, the system is bad enough, withour the blue rinse mob trying to make last minute adjustments to cover their own neighbourly-interest negligence.
Totally agree - thank god for commnsense. and Cameron Breewer can find another high horse to gayly ride too

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Finally. Now repeal the RMA.

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I am not surprised by this. I have seen Judge Newhook in action before and I am not sure how you convince him that any detrimental impacts are "no more than minor".

Its about time that Auckland City put in place a regime that actually protects the Environment.

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Sorry, Mr/Ms No name...this is getting personal.

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Whether the houses are ugly or not, it's the history of the area that is being destroyed. We wouldn't do this to Maori and their historical sites so why is it ok to destroy the history of an upper class white neighbourhood? It's okay to destroy the history because they are upper class and white and nobody values their cultural heritage or maybe the rest of NZ is jealous. If they were Maori, I'm sure it would have a different ending. Sad Sad day.

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It is indeed a sad reflection on Auckland City and the regulation process.

The number of times the local community speaks out on planning issues and gets nowhere. It is not surprising that the average man in the street feels disenfranchised and totally frustrated.

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Personally, I am indifferent to the houses but the thought of another ugly Sheffield-like structure being constructed appalls me!
Turoa Street, 223 Kohimarama Road, Orakei .... all serve to demonstrate developer capture within the Council management.

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Sad Sad Sad , but this IS not anywhere but New Zealand, where we simply make a mes of everything we do, yes everything we dois a shambles.It is not about wealth here. It is to do with tourism and the future of St Heliers. Perhaps theprevious person is so right, if it had been a Maori building , things would have been different.. But as John Key uses his BUT word , it is not and therefore it can be BUT used to make more. and hopefully voters will look to our PM and local MP and wonder why they did nothing!.

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This has nothing to do with John Key or central government. We all vote for a council to act on our behalf at the local level. The council has acted in accordance with its district plan and consent processes. Don't like it? Then get involved with the process at a LOCAL level. Like making submissions and attending hearings. At the right time, not last minute. If you don't, then you have no right to complain.

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Does anyone know a web address that has a diagram of the concrete jungle that is going to be built the entire length of Turua Street?

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Concrete is moving into St Heliers.
Looks like a bit of Botany coming and a little of Sylvia park, by the seasise.
A sad day and a sad future.
How a judge can say what he did, is his decsion and not always the right one.

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The old warehouses in Sylvia Park were a real EYESORE, and look how beautiful this shopping mall has improved its surroundings. All these protestors have to look for somewhere else to PARTY and then wait for their fortnightly benefit cheques....

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Come on albert and lead head. Liven this up

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FANTASTIC news, sanity prevails - the nimby minority are no longer in control of Auckland and now this city can finally mature and be a city, not some lifestyle block.

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In reply to the msg above... yes Auckland can become a mature city and not a lifestyle block now.... a mature city with no culture and one filled with concrete boxes and traffic jams.

Oh you gotta love those traffic jams!

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I don't see England/London pulling down their 700 year old buildings. Oh they're intelligent white people over there and not half wits who have interbred over here.

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"not half wits who have interbred " What is this standard of comment in aid of?
If you don't have a useful, thought out comment to make find somewhere else to spout your bigotry

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3 Art Deco houses left to rot offers zero culture, if you want culture there is a vast array of choices in downtown Auckland - no need to be so insular and choose to confine yourself to the "village" of St Heliers - "village", what a joke, it is a SUBURB in the middle of a sprawling city - LOL.

Amazing how these nimby's "pretend" to love the 3 stooges so much yet they did nothing about it until now, they sat back and watched them rot. If there was so much "passion" why did they not arrange a fund raiser way back then and/or entice a rich lister to invest in a heritage preservation plan ? You snooze you lose.

It is concrete that is the backbone of our modern civilization, love it or hate it, it is here to stay. Would you like to demolish 90% of St Heliers ? that is a rhetorical question by the way, I don't intend on wasting my time debating with narrow minded, old fashioned, repressed hilly-billys.

Like I said, good riddance to a waste of space and let that be a lesson to all of you nimby's - your tears are years too late.

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I think you are really an ignorant git and you don't even have the guts to put your name sadFloser that you are - gee you are sophisticated in using the word array - please personalise and nominate the places you are trying to use to qualify your p..weak and feeble argument ANONYMOUS THE GUTLESS specify what you are talking about and, actually are you from this town??? J.C. Woon

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I live in St Heleirs, and I believe that the 3 art deco houses are a part of the culture of the neighbourhood I live in. Protests occurred because many of the local residents also believe in their historical significance. Why should someone from another part of town who has no affiliation to the neighbourhood dictate what happens in St Heliers.

As for the 'bigot' in the above message, they are quite right. The English have lost their culture or had it stolen from them. Maori are allowed and encouraged to keep theirs. As for us 'white people' in St Heliers, we're not allowed to retain our past. It's blatant racisim.

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what a load of crap, the house are not part of the culture, most residents are happy to see the house go, and something built to bring life back to the street

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You're allowed to retain whatever you like if you are willing to put your money where your heart is !!
When you try to exert ownership rights over someone elses property - this is tantamount to thievery and/or extortion and has been (justifiably) nipped in the bud.
Due processes are available in relation to district plans etc and should not be compromised by renegades who believe they have a right to "sit on the pot" whilst others (who are actually generating momentum in an otherwise flat economy) go about their business.

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Chuck, have you got proof that most of the residents want the entire eastern side of Turua St built with one enormous 12.5m high concrete block? One building covering 10 sections! How is that in keeping with St Heliers village?

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Have you got proof that residents don't want the houses demolished. The street is zoned commercial and has been an eyesore for years.

Thousands of people live in St Heliers and neighboring suburbs, and its only a minority that have been protesting

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It's just another developing wanting to make money anyway how he can. If Mike Markham wanted to beautify the street, he should have started with the other side of the road (which he owns) as this is one huge ugly unused carpark.

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Mike Markham has bought up most of St. Heliers. So when he's finished building his little monopoly board of concrete buildings with no character, he'll probably demand it's called St. Markham.

Money Money Money!!!

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Cash is king....need them to feed the beneficiaries.

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Isn't it interesting? The NBR regularly reports on finance, economic and business issues - all of which have implications for all NZers. But an article about three ugly houses and a (probably) tasteless developer creates more comment than major national issues.

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Mob rule must not be tolerated. The developer had the resource consents, so why should the disaffected rabble subvert the his goals by the imposition of their will?

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Might as well demolish all of Ponsonby's houses, and most of the other older suburbs around Auckland - Devonport. Mt Eden, Parnell because these areas are much older than the 1930's art deco St Heliers houses. There's no difference. Down with old and up with concrete jungles. Bet the Devo and Ponsnoby residents wouldn't like their suburb being demolished - bet there's a few on here who have posted in support of St Heliers demolition. Shame on you.

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No, shame on YOU for supporting the use of violence in achieving goals.

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