How Best to Protect Heritage

30 Sep 2016
Sep 30 2016

I acknowledge that heritage, both Maori and European is important for Hamilton’s identity.

I have always had concerns around planning processes that place the cost of protecting such heritage, whether it be buildings, trees or cultural sites, on individual property owners rather than the wider community that benefits. Rather than place costs on the owners of these items in obtaining consents to maintain or improve the items in a manner that is in keeping with the reasons that they are protected in the first place, I believe that Council should work with the owners to achieve best possible outcomes.

People should not be forced, through maintaining a heritage item to live in a museum, work in an environment that is not competitive or adaptable for modern technologies or is at earthquake risk. The costs of future proofing these items being an important part in the overall equation. Council should work with property owners to find a solution if any, rather than putting costly processes in place that often are counter intuitive to overall outcomes. For example how many protected trees, or buildings do not have appropriate maintenance due concerns about planning application costs and process. Doing nothing results in the rapid loss of the very reasons the items were protected in the first place (poorly maintained items soon lose their lustre and become only fit for removal). I have concerns within this regard with the many older rental properties in the Hamilton East protection area.

While I would not support any increase in the heritage fund or the fund itself, I believe that other methods will actually achieve better outcomes – i.e. no or reduced fees for maintenance enhancement of the items and use of Council staff expertise (i.e. HCC arborists involved in historic tree maintenance).

There must be a better way I don’t know the answer but not more layers of bureaucracy. Maybe it’s council staff including arborists, building experts, planners etc working in with these buildings with no fee structure and no staff time charged for advice.

Sometimes we have just got to face reality. It will cost more to fix than it is worth, it’s done its job or its not fit for purpose and times have moved on, the money is not there to maintain it or repair it and it’s time to remove it and rebuild.