Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Knock it down quick!

Eric Crampton writes over at Offsetting Behaviour
The National Business Review reports that the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill will make it more difficult for owners of pre-1900 buildings to make any kind of alteration. In addition to requiring a building consent and, for buildings listed in district plans, a resource consent, you'll now also need an archaeological permit.

NBR points to the Law Society's submission on the bill. They write:
The practical implications of this definitional change, however, are wide-ranging for New Zealand’s older settlements. In some of these (for example, Nelson and Dunedin) there is still a substantial housing and commercial building stock comprising pre-1900 structures. A literal application of the definition of “archaeological site”, together with its companion definition of “harm”, means that there will be many thousands of private dwellings around New Zealand that will require an archaeological authority to be obtained for the most minor maintenance work, such as the replacement of spouting or the hanging of new wallpaper. It is not clear whether this level of intervention with private ownership rights is intended by the Bill. If that is not intended, then revisiting the definition of “harm” or “archaeological site” is warranted. The Law Society does not believe that this difficulty can be addressed by Heritage New Zealand simply applying the legislation in a pragmatic way, since the failure to obtain an archaeological authority is a criminal offence of strict liability.
Who would want to own a heritage home if they had to seek archaeological approval if they wanted to change the wallpaper? If the value of heritage buildings is bid down because of the regulatory encumbrances, investments in maintenance and strengthening are attenuated too.
What is the rational reaction to this? If you own a pre-1900 building which you think will need work done to it in the future or that you may want to renovate, What do you do? With the costs imposed by a Bill like this why not knock you building down now, while you still can, and put up something new.

So we could see a  large reduction in the number of heritage buildings around in the future. This I'm sure is not the intention of the Bill but it may be its effect.

You can only imagine the effect on heritage buildings here in Christchurch if you face these additional costs for earthquake related repairs.

1 comment:

Eric Crampton said...

Would work except the new regs apply only to buildings that are already under Council protection. Maybe there are some things that those folks will rush through before the new regs, but a tearing down likely isn't one.