A number of iconic heritage buildings will benefit from the Government’s announcement of a revamped Heritage EQUIP programme, helping to breathe life into regional town centres across New Zealand, says LGNZ President Dave Cull.
Grand old buildings of yesteryear form the heart of towns in regions such as Tararua, Manawatu, Rangitīkei, Otago and Whanganui. However, recent earthquake strengthening regulations cast a cloud over the ongoing tenancy of these buildings, resulting in a decline in economic and social activity around them.
“Vibrant and stylish heritage buildings are the cornerstones of our towns and should be busy with social, retail and business activity,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.
“Earthquake strengthening laws have meant that many heritage building owners have had to make substantial investments to meet the new safety standards, but for many communities the costs of strengthening or restoration is simply out of reach.”
“The recent announcement of the Heritage EQUIP programme by Minister Robertson provides a new co-funding pathway for building owners that will help pay for services such as seismic assessments, as well as architectural and structural engineering plans.”
“This is great news for building owners, heritage trusts and other groups who are fighting to save the iconic buildings that are such an integral part of our culture – they are links to our past that cannot be replaced once they’re gone.”
Rangitikei District Mayor Andy Watson has been a strong advocate for restoring heritage buildings, and credited the united approach of the regional mayors in engaging Minister Robertson.
“I’m absolutely thrilled about the announcement. This is a big issue for both our region and a number of neighbouring councils who’ve been pushing for a solution to this problem. This response from the Government assists with many of our iconic heritage buildings and we as a council will continue to seek assistance for privately owned earthquake prone buildings, that are not heritage listed but are still special.”
“I look forward to buying Minister Robertson a coffee in one of Marton’s restored buildings in the near future.”
Manawatu District Mayor Helen Worboys was pleased that the Government has been listening to the regions, calling it a first step in the right direction.
“Heritage buildings such as the Feilding Hotel and the Terry Urquhart building provide the character of our town. Meeting stringent new earthquake regulations is expensive, and this is a welcome announcement. There are however many other buildings that are the social and economic heart of the town that will also need to be considered for financial assistance, to ensure that our town continues to be a vibrant hub of our community.”