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The Minister for Earthquake Recovery has the power to take action to preserve Christchurch's heritage - including the Cranmer Courts - and should use it, not let such an important building be demolished, the Green Party said today.
"The section 38 notices that force building owners to do expensive work or demolish their buildings are destroying Christchurch's history. CERA is creating a barren wasteland in the heart of the city," said Green Party Christchurch spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
"CERA's management of the Cranmer Courts flies in the face of its own heritage protection plan which now seems to be a waste of the paper it's written on," said Ms Sage.
The Buildings and Cultural Heritage Places Draft Recovery Programme has a number of stated outcomes which appear not to have been considered in the case of Cranmer Courts. These include that materials are retrieved safely to enable their reuse, and that owners should be assisted to restore or redevelop their buildings.
"CERA has made little effort to meet its own heritage objectives. Christchurch and New Zealand are losing important parts of our history as a result," said Ms Sage.
"Why has there been no assistance from Government to help keep this important part of Christchurch's identity?
"The owners of Cranmer Courts shouldn't have been forced to make this decision.
"Cranmer Courts were safe as they were - cordoned off and weather proofed - and could have stayed like that for some time while a solution was found, if the Government had only supported the owners to save them.
"Christchurch needs its heritage buildings for a thriving city which is a desirable and attractive place to live, work in and visit.
"The Government can find millions of dollars for V8 races and rugby stadiums. It also needs to help protect Christchurch's distinctive buildings which contribute to the city's character.
"The section 38 notices suspend all the normal protections for listed heritage buildings - demolition can proceed without the requirement for resource consents or public consultation.
"The draconian section 38 powers must be wound back so the community can participate in decision making about the character and history of their city," said Ms Sage.