Demolition man sick of historic destruction

DEMOLITION MAN: Mike Vickers says the near demolition of this heritage home on Arawa Ave in Devonport is part of a growing trend.

Mike Vickers is sick of tearing down beautiful North Shore heritage homes.

The North Shore Demolition boss says heritage zones in Devonport, Northcote Pt and Birkenhead are being gutted as developers exploit resource consent loopholes.

He fears a flood of historic Shore houses may soon be destroyed or altered beyond recognition.

“There are going to be no heritage areas left if this keeps up,” hesays.

“We’re losing our history on a speedy basis.

“Some of these jobs I feel like walking away from, but then if I do there is always someone else willing to do it.

“It shouldn’t be allowed to happen, end of story.”

Rules protecting the North Shore’s heritage homes aren’t stringent enough, says Mr Vickers.

He often sees resource consents granted for alterations to historic houses which are then almost completely demolished.

In other cases developers simply tear down a heritage home, pay a fine, then redevelop the property, he says.

“It’s all about money. It’s another land grab. A piece of vacant land in some of these areas is worth $2 million or $3m.

“It’s easier to start from scratch than to renovate an old bungalow.

“Quite often you can put two houses on these sections.”

Heritage homes were recently demolished or partially demolished in Birkenhead and Devonport.

One home on Arawa St, next to Cheltenham Beach, was almost torn down after its owners were given consent to restore and rennovate it.

Residents and councillors have called for an investigation.

Birkenhead residents are angry over a house recently removed from Mariposa St, near Highbury.

Consent for 90 percent removal of the historic bungalow was granted in 2005, and that was changed to a total removal consent in 2006.

The consent was non-notified and carried out by council officers.

Harbour ward councillor Tony Holman says North Shore heritage homes are disappearing at an alarming rate.

He is taking measures to toughen up rules protecting heritage zones and delegate more decisions on heritage areas to councillors.

It’s also important the council employs more hard-to-find heritage specialists, he says.

“Our special character areas are being eroded. We’re losing a huge visual and economic resource.

“People with lots of money come to a heritage area, saying they love the ambience. They buy a heritage house and then say: ‘Nevermind, I want a modern one’.”

Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott is calling for strict protections to preserve Birkenhead’s character.

Many consents have been given for rennovations that gut important historic buildings, she says.

“Time and time again, you just get to the point where you feel like saying: ‘Are we going to bother to protect heritage or not?’

“This is a finite resource. They aren’t making it any more.

“It is not only an aesthetic and historical good, but in this day and age it’s a financial good.”

Credits

Photo/s by: BEN WATSON/North Shore Times
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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