Published 16 November 2009
One of the arguments against enforced heritage protection is that there’s been no compensation to the property owner for the cost of what becomes a community asset.
That, essentially, was the basis for a move at the Auckland City Council towards financial incentives for heritage protection.
But what council have staff have come up with – and which was endorsed by the council’s city development committee last Thursday – is a long way from that.
Heritage manager Nicola Short told councillors in her report on a heritage policy review: “The current approach to heritage management, as expressed through the district plan, focuses on the identification & description of heritage resources in a discipline-specific manner. There is little or no recognition of the interrelationship between various individual heritage resources, and the management of heritage resources isw undertaken primarily through the district plan.
“A key concept emerging from national & international best practice is that it is vital for an organisation to have an overarching policy principle which recognises the interrelationship & shared values between various elements of the physical environment that have heritage value…. The benefits of this approach are: coherent understanding of the heritage resources, improved communication, streamlined processes for administration & management of assets.”
Out of that and the efforts of a heritage working party, the committee endorsed some elements of an incentives toolkit:
publication of a web-based statement for heritageestablishment of a charitable trust for heritage protection, modelled on the trust established by the Auckland Art Galleryuse of an incentives framework which indicates which tools are applicable to each of the 3 types of heritage item: elements, areas & landscapes (appendix 3 in the report)identification of properties where revaluation is required, due to significant disparity between the current valuation & development potentialthe principle of transferable development rights, where recipient sites are clearly defined, as a means of protecting heritage values, to be investigated in the isthmus, andinvestigation of the costs & covenants associated with rates relief for heritage protection.
The committee agreed the council should fund establishment of a charitable trust, “on the basis that this investment will lead in time to a significant new funding for heritage protection that will not impact on rates, while enabling interested individuals & organisations to make an effective & lasting contribution to heritage protection.
Finance committee chairman Doug Armstrong commented: “There is an element of experimentation in this. It provides a vehicle to get resources into heritage which didn’t exist before. A number of us have sat on hearings where’s it been proposed to plant trees to mitigate something further down the road. A mitigation measure would be a donation to the trust of half a million dollars. I don’t support the business 8 zone restriction (proposed by Cllr Glenda Fryer). The mindset of this heritage group was that we move more towards the carrot and away from the stick, reocognising that the result in the end will be greater for Auckland. That’s the essence of this whole motion – that the wisdom on heritage doesn’t rest with the council, the trust enables us to harness energy out there.”
City planning & treasury staff now have the task of developing a financial incentive package, which could include rates postponement & other types of financial assistance. Ms Short said development of a heritage economics framework would include a full review & investigation of incentives to fund environmental & heritage initiatives.
Transferable development rights have already been used in the city, notably for the re-roofing of St Matthews-in-the City, where the church offered rights to developers of different sites as it required more funding.
A large part of the new heritage framework categorises by themes and sets out categories for assessment criteria – a change of format, but not necessarily an advance for anybody wanting to know how the council might support them in funding work to maintain their home if it’s deemed to be a heritage building.
The section on incentives goes only a little way towards that, outlining the kinds of incentive that might be offered – grants, rebates, rates remission or postponement. The council has offered grants before; the difference here is that a trust would raise & distribute funds, instead of being a cost on rates.
Although the current project is presented as new ideas, some of it clearly dates back to the extensive work on heritage done by council staff 2 years ago. At that time, cost to council was a significant factor in councillor thinking. The answer was to delay action, but the answer now still doesn’t address the issue of who pays where the council deems something to be of heritage value. Nor does it answer the question of destruction by neglect.
12 September 2007: Council heritage incentive options – detail
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Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.