Council approves Macallan House demolition

December 16, 2019 - 140 views

A developer has won the right to demolish a lower Thames St building in the Oamaru historic area, the Waitaki District Council has confirmed.

Christopher Paul could not be reached for comment on Friday, but documents provided by the council show Mr Paul this year won the right to demolish the long-vacant 42 Thames St and build a new two-storey retail development in its place in Oamaru’s central business district.

A point of contention between the council and the developer was a condition in the consent — that was ultimately removed in June — for the retention of the upper storey facade of the original building known as Macallan House in lower Thames St between Steward and Meek Sts.

Since July 2017, an expanded Oamaru historic area on Heritage New Zealand's list included not just recognition of the historic value of Harbour and Tyne Sts but also much of Oamaru’s central business district, taking in parts of Harbour, Tyne, Itchen, Wansbeck, Tees, Severn, Meek, Medway, Coquet, Wear and Thames Sts.

At that time, then councillor Peter Garvan said the expanded historic area’s inclusion in the council’s 2030 district plan was "crucial".

The draft district plan is due to be released in the middle of next year for another round of public consultation.

Council planning manager Hamish Barrell said he was not prepared to speculate on how the case of the demolition of Macallan House might have played out had there been a different rule framework in place under a new district plan.

"That said, it is reasonable to assume that if proposals to demolish other buildings on lower Thames St are assessed under a more restrictive rule framework in the future then different decisions could quite possibly be reached," he said.

Earlier this month, the Otago Daily Times reported the Otago Chamber of Commerce warned the council against restrictive heritage zoning in Oamaru’s town centre.

But Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Graeme Clark called the developer’s position — while "not the worst-case scenario" — a "shame".

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he could not comment on the developer’s intentions for the site and said it was too early to speculate on future rules for the area.

He said he did not want many buildings in the historic area of lower Thames St demolished and rebuilt.

He pointed to the successful repurposing of the building occupied by the Bank of New Zealand where the facade was kept.

"We want to keep as much of our heritage, or notable heritage, as possible," he said.

"And when you’re looking at a streetscape one of the things that’s important is the continuity of it, the streetscape.

"But also fundamentally building owners do need to have the ability to adapt buildings to modern uses.

"Otherwise if they fall out of use, they inevitably fall into disrepair and you end up with demolition by neglect — and none of us want that."


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