Wellington’s heritage buildings make the city beautiful, but dangerous. This joint report by Deloitte New Zealand and The New Zealand Initiative looks for ways that Wellington can balance earthquake readiness and sensitivity to the city’s heritage character.
Owners of heritage buildings can be in an invidious position. Some buildings simply cannot be cost-effectively strengthened without compromising some of the building’s historical character. And, things are even worse where heritage-listed buildings in apartments or flats are held under unit title by multiple owners of limited means. The complexity of the process prevents some projects even from getting started.
Deadly Heritage suggests a positive way forward. Council should reconsider the heritage status of buildings that are of limited historical value but that pose substantial risks to the public. For other buildings, the consenting process should strike a more reasonable balance between heritage preservation and consequent costs.
At the same time, Council should improve the support that it provides to owners of heritage buildings so that the valuable amenity they provide can be preserved. Buildings stuck in the evaluation and consenting process should be identified and their owners assisted in making headway. And where it is the public that draws the benefit from Wellington’s heritage buildings, the public purse should bridge the gap between cost-effective strengthening solutions and the repairs that are most sensitive to a building’s heritage features.