As the Waitemata Local Board we have a duty of care in our patch.  Protecting and retaining the area’s character residential, commercial and industrial heritage is our mandate.

It may not be our delegated authority under the new model, but it is definitely our mandate. But such protection is definitely the statutory obligation of Council as a whole under the resource management Act. Pragmatic outcomes to achieve speedy resolution of property developments does not have statutory priority.

Our community from Parnell rise to Newmarket, Newton, CBD, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn and Herne  Bay care passionately about the physical elements that contribute to our identity.

The Wynyard Quarter is an area with its own character which derives from its industrial and boating building past.  It was reclaimed from the sea from 1905 and while the buildings may not be as iconic as many of the scheduled buildings in the CBD they are an important aspect of the life of Auckland.  Some have more modest heritage and character values but as a group they are part of the building blocks of identity for the local community.  They have historical breadth.

Take building 8 for example 101-107   Beaumont Street.  At present it is used for Burnsco Marine and Teleflex Morse.  It is one of the oldest buildings in the Wynyard Quarter and first show on a plan dated 1919.  It belongs to a recognisable and cohesive group of similar buildings that are an integral part of the industrial and marine history of the Quarter.

Building 10 is the Trans Pacific Marine building at 121-127 Beaumont Street.  Formally it was the British Imperial Oil Co Ltd dining room and office.  It was built by the 1930s and is a local landmark.  It is considered to have historical, cultural and aesthetic significance and makes a primary contribution to the heritage and character of the area.

Building 16 at 132-6 Beaumont is the HQ Restaurant and Bar now.   It was the Devonport Steam Ferry Store and designed by the same architect M.K. Draffin who designed the Auckland  War Memorial  Museum in conjunction with Grierson and Aimer.   It dates from 1948 and retains much of its original form.

Some of the buildings lack architectural pretensions, but are good examples of early 20th century architecture and evocative of the industrial history of the place.   Most have present day uses and give the precinct a distinctive vitality.

The character commercial buildings on our agenda today, are physical relics that make us as Aucklanders aware of our immediate past.  They have survived as evidence of the past and are talismans of the future.  For us to be confident about the future of Wynyard Point precinct we must be able to contrast the old with the new.  During the transformation of this quarter over the next 5-20 years the high quality urban design of the precinct, for public places, residential and commercial buildings, must be in sympathy with both the environment and cultural heritage.

If we allow the heritage to be demolished our ‘sense of place’ goes with it.  The buildings give us a visual connection with the water.  They are our ‘cultural capital’ and link our past to a hopeful future.   Many are significant contributors to the existing historic urban character and in particular as perceived from the public street or other public vantage points.     Their architectural interest lies in their scale, form and materials, all of which bear witness to their historical associations and the previous pattern of development in the area.

The Waitemata Local Board is being very responsible.  We have learnt the lesson of Coolengatta and Turoa Street.  Saving character buildings once the wrecker’s ball has arrived at the gate is almost impossible unless Council wishes to itself buy the properties at inflated costs.

We are now at the District Plan stage….finalising our own District Plan.

The Waitemata Local Board, as co-Governors of this part of the City, is committed to this policy resolution before you today.   We may in the end lack the ability to join the proceedings if the Governing Body is unwilling or perceives itself as unable to delegate responsibility or to resource this proposal. But my request is that we support at least part a) of the resolution. In addition we ask the Council to assist the Art Deco Society, to present the best written and verbal evidence to the Environment Court to protect character and heritage in the Wynyard Quarter. They may possibly be the only guardian of the public interest in this matter left to actually place the merits of the arguments before the Environment   Court if part b) cannot for other reasons be supported.  The Court will ultimately make the decision based on the evidence and legal arguments.  To give these treasured buildings a fighting chance of being there in 100 years we must support the wonderful people of the Art Deco Society who could be our community’s salvation.

Chair, Shale Chambers, Speech to the Waitemata Local Board meeting on Tuesday 8 February 2011

Read more

Council gags Board over secret destruction deal, NZ Herald, 9 February 2011

Mayor out to save heritage pair doomed in secret deal NZ Herald, 14 February 2011