What the Council rules say

To understand the heritage controls in place in Mt Victoria, it’s necessary to take a look at the Council’s District Plan. There are two parts of the District Plan that are directly relevant to heritage in Mt Victoria:

    Contrary to some assumptions, the bulk of Mt Victoria is not covered by general heritage provisions – the north character area is a relatively small section of the neighbourhood centred on St Gerard’s Monastery at the top of Hawker Street, and extends only as far as the northern side of Roxburgh Street. The reason for the heritage protection in this area is:

    The Mount Victoria North Character Area is important to the city because it covers an area of high visual appeal, particularly when viewed from the city and harbour. It is a characteristic Wellington residential environment of closely packed hillside housing, enhanced by the prominence of St Gerard’s Monastery. The monastery building, in its setting at the top of the coastal escarpment above Oriental Bay, is the object of many of the central area viewshafts identified in the plan. This special composition is one which the Council seeks to protect and enhance.

    Because of the area’s visual significance, the north or north west face of new building developments fronting the harbour and city has been made a Controlled Activity to ensure that its existing special character is maintained.

    The second form of heritage control is contained in District Plan Rule 5.3.11, which states:

    Mt Victoria, Thorndon, Newtown, Berhampore and Mt Cook contain large numbers of older buildings which collectively are important to the identity of Wellington City as a whole. To help protect the value of these buildings to the
    streetscape the demolition or removal of pre 1930 buildings has been made a Discretionary (Restricted) Activity. The focus of this rule is the contribution of the buildings to the streetscape. This rule does not restrict the addition to or alteration of
    existing building.

    The date of 1930 has been chosen as buildings older than that date tend to match the characteristic building types of the area. The Council holds information on the ages of buildings which is available on request. It is recognised that different parts of the same building might be different ages. The age of the primary form of the building will be taken as the relevant date. Primary form means the simple form that is central to and the basis of the dwelling. It is typically the largest identifiable form or combination of relatively equal sized geometrically simple and box-like forms.

    There are many variations of primary form. However, the primary form of the Victorian and Edwardian villa is typically square or rectangular in plan, one or two stories in height with a hip roof. The primary form of the cottage is typically single storey, rectangular in plan, with a gable roof.

Editorial: The heritage debate

In recent weeks there has been considerable community discussion about the issue of heritage controls in our neighbourhood, and many have expressed strong opinions about the subject.

For better or worse, two recent Council decisions to allow the demolition of cottages at 99 Majoribanks Street and 63 Brougham Street have acted as the catalyst for the issue, and the very public (and increasingly acrimonious) debate over proposed changes to the Thorndon heritage rules has added fuel to the fire.

The purpose of this editorial is to help explore the options for our neighbourhood. It seems inevitable that the Council will seek to apply consistent heritage rules across the city, and these rules will have a significant impact on our community because of the age of the majority of our buildings. I’m expecting that many people will have an opinion about how (or whether) these rules should apply in Mt Victoria, and I’d like to invite everyone who has a view to add their comments.

Over the next few weeks I’ll see if I can describe some of the issues behind the heritage debate and represent the disparate views of some of the different groups. All comments – positive and negative – are welcomed, and I’ve opened up the commenting system to allow everyone to contribute. As with all these things, I’d ask that we try and keep the debate civil, so moderation is in place to ensure we’re discussing issues rather than personalities.

This is an important topic for our community, and I encourage you to have your say.

Kent Duston

Earl’s on the road to recovery

The DominionPost is featuring the remarkable progress of hit-and-run victim Earl Krauskopf, who as residents will recall was run down and then robbed in the Pirie Street bus tunnel at the end of January. Earl is now walking – up to a year ahead of schedule – and the video from the DomPost website is truly inspiring.

In separate tunnel developments, Eastern Ward Councillor Rob Goulden is pressing for gates to be installed across the tunnel entrance to prevent vehicles using it illegally after the last bus of the night. It seems like a sensible and practical idea, but Council officers remain adamantly opposed to it. However local residents can testify to the fact that the tunnel continues to be used on a daily basis by motorists and pedestrians alike, so it seems reckless of officers to continue to play roulette with people’s lives.

We wish Earl all the best for his recovery, and if anyone has information regarding the blue car that hit him they are encouraged to call the Police.

Join the Ukulele Orchestra on Saturday 27 June at the Michael Fowler Centre

Occasionally an e-mail arrives in the inbox that just cries out to be shared with the community ….

Dear friends,

We’d like you to be the first to know about our very special only Wellington show this winter.

We’re over the moon to have secured the capital city’s fine orchestra hall, the Michael Fowler Centre, for A Magical Evening with the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra on Saturday 27th June.

It’ll be the kind of show we’d put on for ourselves in our living rooms, only with a few more people. Every ticket is incredibly cheap at just $15 (plus booking fees) – an incredible price for an incredible evening of hot ukulele riffs, fancy outfits, witty banter and stunning harmonies in a gorgeous setting. And the tickets are seated, so the earlier you book, the better your seats will be.

Tickets go on sale on Monday 11th May via Ticketek (www.ticketek.co.nz). We’ll see you there, once we’ve figured out just what to wear. We plan to be wearing our ‘number ones’, and we hope you’ll dress up too.


The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

Local residents will remember that the Ukulele Orchestra played at one of the Old Crossways open days, and were a smash hit. So if you’d like a fine and fantastic evening of great music and huge fun, this is the event for you!

The case of the disappearing cottage (updated)

Updated: There have been two clarifications to the story – the owners have pointed out that the original plans were for two car pads, rather than two garages, and MVRA have pointed out that they opposed the final design on the basis that they are opposed to the demolition of heritage buildings in the neighbourhood as a matter of principle.

Quite a few residents have remarked about the demolition of the cottage at 63 Brougham Street, and have enquired about whether the Mt Victoria Residents Association was involved in discussions about the demolition.

As many people know, Rule 5.3.11 of the current District Plan provides for MVRA to be consulted about all demolitions of pre-1930’s buildings in the neighbourhood. In this particular case, MVRA were consulted and had concerns about the plans that were presented – these would have seen the rear lean-to’s demolished, the cottage moved back on the site and two car pads constructed on the front of the property. In the view of the Residents Association, this would have been a significant and negative change to the street frontage, and the Council were advised that the Association would be opposed to the demolition.

After discussions between Council officers, the architect and the owners, the plans were re-drawn with the car pads removed, a new building constructed in line with the existing houses and the outline conforming much more to the vernacular 1900-era structures in the street. These plans were regarded as an improvement over the originals, although MVRA remain opposed to the demolition of pre-1930’s buildings as a matter of principle and noted this with the Council. However the decision is not made by MVRA, and the Council went ahead and approved the demolition of the existing cottage over the objections of local residents.

The owners are blogging about their progress, and information about their building project can be found here.