Demolition of Settlement Building - Clarification

25 January 2011

The demolition of the old Settlement restaurant building is a sad event for the city but the Wellington City Council's Built Environment Portfolio leader Iona Pannett is satisfied the Council followed correct legal procedures in issuing the various relevant consents.

Cr Pannett says the onus for following the law in terms of an archaeological evaluation lies with the owner but adds that yesterday's demolition does highlight a few issues in terms of whether adequate numbers of old buildings are properly protected in the city. 

Cr Pannett says correct procedures were followed in terms of the issuing of the consent in 2006, noting that advice was attached to the resource consent to advise the applicant that they had to consult with the Historic Places Trust regarding the need for any archaeological assessment of the site or authority prior to any earthworks or construction taking place. 

She also says the Settlement building was not listed in the City Council's heritage inventory nor was it registered with the Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).

Cr Pannett says the NZHPT was contacted to let them know a consent to demolish the building had been issued this week.  The applicants' consultants were also once again advised that the building was pre-1900 vintage and that they therefore had to contact NZHPT to confirm whether an archaeological authority was required. NZHPT is understood to have acted promptly on the Council's advice, visiting the site and issued the stop work notice.

Building demolition appears to have been well progressed if not completed before the consultants contacted NZHPT.

The new owners of the site have made an application for an extension of five years for the original resource consent and a 'temporary' car park for seven years.

The car park application is 'suspended' and the time extension on hold pending further information from the applicant. The Council has advised the applicant that the proposals as they stand are not acceptable.

Cr Pannett says the Council is reviewing what heritage exists within the city to enable the Council to decide what should be protected and the priority order that this be done.

"There are a number of old buildings around the city that some people imagine have automatic heritage protection - but they don't. Most have been left off the District Plan list for good reasons.

"However it's timely for us to continue evaluating our heritage policies - especially in light of changes over the past decade to the District Plan - and also because of events like the Canterbury earthquake.

"The quake has clearly thrown heritage issues into sharp focus."