Ratepayers fork out $19m for heritage projects

DETERIORATED: The old Public Trust building has been saved from demolition after a $1.9million landmark heritage grant. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

More than $19 million of ratepayer money has been spent on restoring heritage buildings following the February 2011 earthquake – and advocates say it’s money well spent.

The city council sets aside $763,000 every year to use for heritage incentive grants. It also gives out central city landmark heritage grants for larger projects.

Figures released to The Star show the city council has given $5,725,557 from its heritage incentive grant fund over the last six years.

On top of that, it gave $10,942,500 in landmark heritage grants, and $2,650,000 to restoring the Arts Centre buildings.

The money is used to restore and repair buildings with heritage status, listed under the district plan.

They are subject to a covenant being put on the property so it protects the building for the future.

Owners can apply for up to 50 per cent of the cost of eligible work and it could include the fees of registered architects, engineers and quantity surveyors.

They are paid after the work has been finished.

Some of the buildings that got heritage incentive grants included the Nurse Maude Clinic in Merivale, which got $345,000, New Regent St buildings and a number of residential homes.

HISTORIC: The Nurse Maude building in Merivale received a $345,000 heritage incentive grant for restoration.

Addington’s Woods Mill buildings have been given two grants, but the first one of $884,750 went back into the fund because it was not used.

RESTORATION: Addington’s Woods Mill buildings have received two different heritage incentive grants, but the first went back into the pool because the plan was dropped.

A new developer has received $900,000 to turn the buildings into a commercial and retail complex.

Central city landmark heritage grants have included buildings such as McLean’s Mansion, which received $1.9 million, $1.7 million for Christchurch Club, and the former Public Trust building owners got $1.9 million last month to save the building.

DAMAGED: McLean’s Mansion got a $1.9million central city landmark heritage grant so it can be turned it into an art gallery. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

Christchurch Heritage Trust chairwoman Anna Crighton said every dollar spent on heritage protection was “a dollar well spent”.

She said there were strict rules on what building’s qualified for grants.

“Otherwise it’s just ratepayer money just being thrown away.”

She said there were many projects that needed money following the February 2011 earthquake, but for her, heritage buildings were a priority.

“Once you’ve lost it, it’s gone forever.”

City councillor Yani Johanson said following the earthquakes, the heritage incentive grant scheme became more important.

“Heritage became absolutely critical post-quake.”

City councillor Jamie Gough said restoring heritage buildings was difficult because it was time consuming and costly.

The scheme made it a bit easier for owners to preserve the buildings, and it showed the city valued its historic fabric, he said.