Hutt City Council is joining forces with the Historic Places Trust and the Jackson Street Programme to get the message out that a heritage listing is not necessarily bad if you are a building or property owner.
The initiative follows a council subcommittee decision in December to remove heritage provisions in the District Plan, a decision Historic Places Trust central regional manager Ann Neill described at the time as “a backward step for heritage”.
She also said the decision appeared to contravene the council’s legal duty to protect the city’s heritage.
Since then mayor Ray Wallace has invited Ms Neill and trust representatives to his office for a coffee.
The result has been an agreement for the parties to work together to help remove many misconceptions about heritage and what it means for property owners.
Mr Wallace says the lead-up to the December meeting - in which scores of owners complained to the council that the inclusion of their properties on a council heritage inventory could affect their resale value - shows there is still of a lot of misinformation about what a heritage listing means.
“Because a document was leaked we didn’t have the opportunity to discuss with building and property owners the benefits of being on the heritage inventory.”
Mr Wallace says the Historic Places Trust will produce a series of articles on what a heritage listing means for property owners.
“We’ll also hold an information evening for business owners and retailers in Jackson St and Petone. This is an opportunity for Petone to lead the way.”
Mr Wallace says a large proportion of the city’s heritage is in Petone so it is appropriate the initiative starts there.
Historic Places trust spokesman David Watt says the trust is keen to work with the council to clear up misconceptions about heritage.
“The mayor suggested we could work together on advising property owners on what heritage is about.”
He says the initiative will include a number of columns on heritage issues.
Mr Watt says the trust will also be working with the Jackson Street Programme to talk with Petone property owners and retailers – although nothing has yet been confirmed.
Meanwhile, Mr Wallace says December’s decision is purely a temporary measure. “It’s not a final solution. There’s still a lot of work to be done. We’re taking a breather and having a cup of tea. No heritage buildings will be lost while we take this breather.”
Although December’s decision leaves owners of heritage with the right to demolish - except where buildings are registered by the trust – Mr Wallace says that will not happen. ‘”There is no way they’ll be holus- bolus demolitions of buildings.”
Do you think Hutt City is sincerely trying to protect the city's heritage? Or is it trying to repair the PR damage from its December decision?
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