Heritage building decision questioned

The Property Council is questioning a planning decision denying the owner of a category 1 heritage building the right to demolish it.

Mark Dunajtschik, who owns the Harcourt building on Lambton Quay in Wellington, applied to demolish the building but his application was turned down by a panel of independent commissioners.

In July last year, an earthquake prone building notice was given to the Harcourt building stating it must be strengthened or demolished.

Mr Dunajtschik decided to demolish the building after valuers advised that strengthening it was not commercially viable. It was built 84 years ago.

Property Council Wellington branch president Ian Cassels said he wonders what this decision means for the city's future and called it a backward step.

He said replacing the Harcourt building would have brought more foot traffic and office space.

Wellington City Council member Iona Pannett said the Government needs to address funding for earthquake strengthening work

She said the Government and the council need to work out some solutions for funding, which might include tax and rates relief and underwriting insurance.

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