Thorndon Heritage Review

16 August 2010

Following 18 months of consultation with the Thorndon community, we've come up with a detailed and robust proposal about how to manage our oldest suburb's unique heritage.

Thorndon is the oldest suburb in Wellington and has many historical features

Thorndon is the oldest suburb in Wellington and has many historical features

We plan to undertake a 'placed-based' study which will identify all the important characteristics that make up the 'feel' of Thorndon. This information will then form the basis of a framework of how to manage aspects of its heritage. This model may then be used in other areas of heritage significance in the city.

The Council's Principal Heritage Advisor, Vivien Rickard, says the approach has been developed over time.

"When we initially looked at protecting the suburb's heritage and making it part of our District Plan in 2009, we found there was such a variety of feedback from the residents that we felt it was only right to spend a lot of time working with the community," she says.

"We've held workshops, information days and meetings with Thorndon residents in order to work through some of the issues and concerns residents have about owning a heritage property. All the information gathered during our discussions will be used for the place-based plan."

Vivien says a previous study (the Thorndon Heritage Study, 2008) identified strong heritage values including historic, social, aesthetic, townscape, architectural and scientific attributes.

"Parts of Thorndon, because of the steep terrain, have architecture and streetscapes unique in New Zealand. The geography shows us the social divisions of the 19th century; workers' cottages on the slopes in the south and larger merchants' homes and villas on the flat land to the north.

"This, together with the materials, design and scale of the surviving houses and buildings gives us an immediate insight into how our forebears lived and worked. These buildings also provide diverse examples of architectural style and the work of individual architects."

The place-based research will look at a range of aspects of Thorndon's heritage. It will include streetscapes, individual properties, the cultural significance of properties such as houses that were lived in by well-known people, vegetation, topography and the suburb's archaeological significance for Māori and early-settler heritage.

Thorndon has several clearly distinct areas - the workers' cottages on the slopes in the south and surrounding the Tinakori Road shops, the narrow streets of the Ascot Street, Glenbervie Terrace and Hill Street area, the bungalows around the suburb's mid-point, and the 'grand' merchants' houses to the north on Tinakori Road and in the Hobson Street area.

The review will also aim to improve heritage consent processes. Better advice and information is being worked on for owners of heritage and character properties. Eligibility criteria for the Built Heritage Incentive Fund will also be reviewed.

The review is expected to begin later this year and the findings will be published in a report to the Council's Strategy and Policy Committee. It is not yet known how long the review will take.