16 August 2018
A request for resource consent to demolish the Thain’s Building at 1 Victoria Avenue, Whanganui has been declined.
Karantze Holdings, which owns the heritage building, applied for consent to demolish it after stating it was earthquake prone and would be expensive to strengthen.
Karantze Holdings requested their application for demolition be publicly notified in April 2018. Of the 33 submitters, 32 submitted against the demolition, with one supporting it. Several of the submitters requested the application be heard by an independent commissioner.
Commissioner Rob van Voorthuysen heard the application and submissions on 9-10 August 2018 and advised his decision on 14 August.
He said the building had “undisputed heritage values of regional significance” which contribute economically to Whanganui. He noted the building is highly visible from tourist destinations such as Durie Hill and the Whanganui City Bridge and its demolition would adversely affect the “fabric and symmetry” of the other Victorian-era masonry buildings in the neighbourhood.
Mayor Hamish McDouall says Mr van Voorthuysen’s decision to decline demolition reinforces the importance of retaining Whanganui’s heritage.
“We are very pleased Mr van Voorthuysen has validated our heritage-led approach to city centre regeneration. Demolishing the Thain’s Building would have caused irreversible damage to our status as a town known for its unique heritage.
“Submitters at the hearing demonstrated to the commissioner that there are ways to preserve and re-use heritage buildings and in this case there are still options to explore before demolition should be considered. This highlights the important role that the community can play in the decision making process,” says Mayor McDouall.
Mayor McDouall says the Council is committed to working with building owners to find innovative ways to strengthen, adapt and reuse heritage buildings.
The applicant, consent holder or any submitter is able to appeal the decision to the Environment Court within 15 working days from the decision date.
The decision can be viewed at www.whanganui.govt.nz/1Victoria