Pots of Money

One of the positives of writing this hertiage blog has been reporting on the Wellington City Council’s Built Heritage Incentive Fund and the interesting projects that it has supported, such as the Futuna Chapel, the Wedge in Thorndon and the railway houses in Tarikaka Street, in Ngaio.

In a city like Wellington, where heritage is constantly under threat, it is important that heritage owners are supported in their work to maintain their buildings. However, unfortunately the city council has recently decided to redistribute a third of its heritage fund to helping to fund work on Unreinforced Masonry (URM) buildings, whether they are heritage or not.

This is part of the city council’s contribution to the government’s new policy, brought in in January, in which owners of buildings in busy pedestrian streets will be forced to ‘tie back’ their parapets and facades, which we covered here.  It was known that around 250 buildings in Wellington would be affected.

The idea is that a joint fund from government and councils will be used to provide a 50 per cent subsidy for the work, up to a maximum grant of $15,000 for a façade and $10,000 for a parapet. The government provided $3 million, and the council has agreed to provide another $1 million as its share. The council has decided to take this $1 million directly from the Built Heritage Incentive Fund – $300,000 in this financial year, and the remainder from the next financial year.

Councillor Andy Foster had originally said, when it was first discussed at the council’s strategy meeting, that any money taken from the heritage fund should be used only for heritage buildings. However at the start of this month the council rejected this idea, so the money can be used for non-heritage buildings in these streets. The council was unaware at the time of making their decision how many heritage buildings and non-heritage buildings will be affected by the new requirements, since the government had yet to issue a list of streets affected, although as I understand it, it was guessed that perhaps only one third of the buildings would be listed heritage buildings.

Obviously any work to make the facades of URM buildings safe from the risk of collapse is very important, but it seems a shame that funding for heritage projects should suffer for that. Why take money specifically from the heritage fund and not any number of other pots of council money?

The list of Wellington streets where buildings owners will be required to carry out urgent works on their unreinforced masonry buildings has recently been released. They are:
Adelaide Rd, Berhampore/Mt Cook/Newtown
Bond St, Wellington Central
Courtenay Pl, Te Aro
Coutts St, Kilbirnie
Cuba St, Te Aro
Dixon St, Te Aro
Dundas St, Seatoun
Egmont St, Te Aro
Eva St, Te Aro
Ganges Rd, Khandallah
Ghuznee St, Te Aro
Hobart St, Miramar
Holland St, Te Aro
Hutt Rd, Pipitea
Kilbirnie Cres, Kilbirnie
Lambton Quay, Wellington Central
Manners St, Te Aro
Miramar Ave, Miramar
Riddiford St, Newtown
Rintoul St, Newtown
Taranaki St, Te Aro
The Parade, Island Bay
Tinakori Rd, Thorndon
Tory St, Te Aro
Victoria St, Te Aro
Vivian St, Te Aro
Wakefield St, Wellington Central
Willis St, Wellington Central
Woodward St, Wellington Central

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