News just in via the Stuff website that Mark Dunajtschik has won his appeal in the High Court against the Environment Court. But it does not mean that Mr D has the right to go out and demolish the building straight away – instead, a rehearing has been ordered. This legal stuff is exhausting, and expensive. With the amount that Mr D has spent on the legal costs so far, you might think that he could quite easily have just strengthened the building instead.
“The High Court has ordered the Environment Court to rehear the case and take account of the risk to public safety if the earthquake-prone building remains as it is.
Justice Collins has also instructed it to consider demolition only if it is convinced there are no reasonable alternative.
The Environment Court made two errors of law when it dismissed the appeal by building owner Dunajtschik against Wellington City Council’s denial of a resource consent to demolish the building, said Justice Collins.
The Environment Court was wrong when it said the onus on Dunajtschik was to establish alternatives to demolition had been ”exhaustively and convincingly excluded”.
It also failed to give adequate consideration to the risk to public safety and surrounding buildings.”
The odd thing is, Mark Dunajtschik is a lover of heritage, and of the 1930s in particular. He was spotted at the Napier Art Deco Weekend in February, soaking up the atmosphere of the 1930s period, looking in admiration at the cars and the architecture, which seems odd for someone who is hell-bent on destroying his own, heritage-listed, deco-era, Chicago-style building.
The problem is 100% of his own doing, and completely at odds with the heritage lobby. Let me sum it up for you like this:
Man buys building.
Man knows that he has bought a heritage building.
Man knocks down existing building, and builds a tower.
Man leaves old facade of old building stuck onto side of new tower.
Man leaves lift core of new tower in light well of old building next door.
Man leases new tower for oodles of dosh.
Man wants to make more dosh, but old building next door in way.
Man leaves no gap between new tower, and neighbouring old building next door.
Man owns building next door also.
Man buys it, knowing it is a heritage listed building.
Man gets building really cheap as no one else wants to buy it, because of large tower and lift core protruding into lightwell.
Man asks to demolish building, and replace old part with new mock-up to look a bit like old.
Man is told he can’t do that.
Man takes council to court.
Man hires bulldog.
Man is told by court that he can’t demolish his building.
Man wins appeal.
and so it goes, or something like this.
Truth is, the building is quite readily able to be strengthened.
Truth is, the building is buggered because it has a tower in the lightwell.
Truth is, the new tower could go ahead without demolishing the whole of the old building.
Truth is, punters on Stuff are rabid mongrels who will be saying things like “Just demolish it already” and “If you like it so much, why don’t you buy it yourself” and “Bloody greenies and tree-huggers” etc, as that is what Stuff-trolls do.