Heritage Rules Kill

I am not one to pander to those who consider the architectural merits of this building or that and lobby councils to retain clapped out old buildings in so-called heritage zones. They always seek to have special rules for “heritage” buildings.

The simple fact is that those rules have killed people:

Attempts to repair a Christchurch building, which collapsed in last February’s earthquake killing an Israeli tourist, were “limited” by heritage rules, an inquiry has heard.

Ofer Binyamin Mizrahi, 22, was holidaying in Christchurch, staying at a backpackers in the central city.

During last February’s quake, he and three friends were eating lunch inside a white Mitsubishi van parked outside the old Winnie Bagoes restaurant at 194 Gloucester St.

Mizrahi recognised the danger, which allowed his friends to escape the van, but he was unable to get out.

The Canterbury earthquakes royal commission today heard the three-storey, unreinforced masonry heritage building, known as Wave House, was damaged in the September 2010 and December 2010 quakes.

Temporary securing work was completed on February 11 last year and a protective cordon around the building was removed soon after.

The building was still damaged and deemed quake-prone, but did not pose greater risk to the public than before September 4 2010, the commission was told.

Owners’ representative David Wallace, of Devonia Realty, said he had wanted repairs to begin in December but there were “issues” with the Christchurch City Council because of the building’s heritage status.

“We were told that [starting immediately] was not going to be the case. There were rules and regulations to be followed and that we had to confer with [the] council on every and all moves,” he said.

Work did not start until early February.

“Everything had to be done in a numerical way, blocks had to be numbered, piled and kept safe. There were very limited things we could do,” Wallace said.

“It was a complex situation made more complicated by the heritage status of the building.”

A heritage building protected by heritage killed an Israeli tourist… ironically one of the ones Phil Goff was never briefed about. I think one thing councils could and should do is place very prominent plaques on the outside of heritage buildings and those things protected by special heritage rules so that we know precisely which buildings to avoid going into.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.