27 May 2017

Clean-up of Christchurch's 'dirty 30' building list

7:37 pm on 27 May 2017

A Christchurch city councillor admits some buildings have been mistakenly added to a hit list of derelict central city properties and they need to be taken off.

The city council threatened legal action, increased fees and media exposure for the owners of 30 buildings, but some owners say they were being bullied.

The Christchurch Heritage Trust owns the Trinity Church and Shands Emporium on Manchester Street, and its chairperson, Anna Crighton, said those buildings had been almost completely restored.

Ms Crighton said she didn't understand why they were on the list.

"I feel not only let down, but I feel insulted, we are a small charitable trust doing our best," she said.

Ms Crighton said there was no consultation, and if the council had seen the work that was being done, their two buildings would not have been on the list.

She said they received a letter from the council last week, which she said was threatening.

RNZ has obtained a copy of the letter, and in it the council's head of urban design, regeneration and heritage, Carolyn Ingles, said their buildings were undermining confidence in the central city.

The letter also promised legal action, increased fees, and media exposure, with almost half of the letter outlining those options.

The letter stated: "if discussions ... prove fruitless, the council and its regeneration partners may use other tools in existing legislation to spur on progress".

Councillor Jamie Gough said some properties should not have been on the list when it was released.

Jamie Gough Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Councillor Jamie Gough said some properties, including the Heritage Trust buildings, should not have been on the list when it was released.

"There were a couple of examples that probably didn't have the correct context ... I give my word to those property owners that the council won't be pursuing them," he said.

Mr Gough said the inclusion of some buildings, including the Heritage Trust properties, was a mistake by council staff, and Ms Crighton should not have received the letter.

But the council's strategy general manager, Brendan Anstills, maintained the letter was not threatening and its contents had been exaggerated by the media.

"The letter is not threatening ... what I can tell you is the letter is factually correct," he said.

He said the council would work with building owners to ensure they were repairing, restoring or rebuilding their properties.

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