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Friday
Mar302012

Carnegie Kerfuffle 

John Isdale and Russell Skeet appeared before the Judicial Committee in Public Forum on Thursday to protest the Consent granted to the Coromandel Heritage Trust on 1 July 2010 permitting the construction of the archive annexe to the Carnegie Building commonly referred to as The Treasury.

"We request that this committee review and reverse that part of the RMA planning application which has approved the construction of this addition with the feature walls which do not meet HPA or ICOMOS criteria. If the façade was replaced with a cladding that meet TCDC and ICOMOS requirements/ recommendations we believe the resulting building added to the iconic Carnegie Library building could give an appropriate storage facility that would not clash with or overshadow that building, give a secure repository for our archival heritage, support the Grahamstown HPA and heritage in our area in general."

John and Russell claim that the cladding proposed for the building is out of character, and contrary to the requirements of the TCDC Heritage Policy Area (HPA). It appears that this protest has been prompted by the recent announcement of the awarding of a substantial Lotto grant that should enable the building to proceed without any further delay.

Trust stalwarts - Morrie and Geraldine Dunwoodie, Gary Meek and Marilyn Dodds were present, looking somewhat bemused at this late attempt to scuttle the work that they have been undertaking for some years.

And so they should - the Committee is comprised of a totally new bench of councillors that have little or no knowledge of Thames or this particular project - indeed, they all in turn made this declaration. This did not prevent them, from asking staff who signed off on the proposal?; who approved the design?;  and that they be given all the information in a report at their next meeting in April. 

The following constitutes the wording from the relevant part of the Decision by the Independent Commissioner:

Notifications and Submissions

The  applicants requested public  notification of the  application as in their  opinion  there  are special circumstances which  relate  to the  public  ownership of the  land  and  the  significant heritage  and cultural values  of the Carnegie building  to the residents of the District.

The  application was  publicly  notified  on  the  22nd and  23rd January  2010  and  submissions closed on the 22nd February  2010.  New Zealand  Transport Authority  sent a letter saying  they did not have any issues  with the proposal and did not intend to lodge a submission. Five submissions were received  of  which  one  was  a  day  late.  One  submission opposed the application and  four submissions were in  support,  however   one  of  these  was  conditional support.

Ngati  Maru  Runanga and the owners  of the property  at 202 Davy  Street,  Thames  originally wished to be heard  at a hearing.  The applicants chose  to consult  with these  submitters prior to  a  hearing.  Ngati  Maru  Runanga withdraw   there  wish  to  be  heard  pursuant to  section1OO(b) of the Act and the owners  of 202 Davy  Street,  withdraw  their conditional submission. No  other  submitters wished  to  be  heard  therefore   a  hearing   need  not  be  held  and  the application continued to be processed under delegated authority.

NZHPT   supports   the  approach   taken  regarding  the  design   of  the  proposal  and considers it creates  a modern building  which is sympathetic in scale and height to the Carnegie Library  without dominating it. It  does  not  mimic  the  existing  building  and therefore  does not undermine the heritage  buildings character or detail.

NZHPT also supports the materials used in the new building, as they blend in colour. The new structure is located far enough away to the south that the side elevation of the Carnegie Library can still be appreciated.

It is to be hoped that good sense will prevail and that the protest is seen off. While recognising the misgivings that certain members of the Thames community have in regard to the 'modern;' design of the annexe, it is abhorrent that protest be entertained nearly two years after a properly constituted hearing on a Discretionary Land use Consent. The Applicant has complied in every way with all of the statutory requirements, and those protesting the decision failed to take advantage of the opportunity accorded them at the time to make their concerns known.

I trust that the Committee will simply note the protest, and move on. If they decide to interfere and re-litigate the issue, it will open the floodgate to similar situations in the future. In fact, I do not believe that they have the legal right to interfere with the decision at this stage, no matter how much enjoyment that Crs McLean and Fox may gain from over-turning decisions of the previous Council, and political mileage that they may perceive to accrue from such an action. Chair Cr Hoadley should tread very carefully - so far, so good, but her gross grandstanding can get the better of her.  

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (3)

Hi Bill,

The most amazing thing about the Carnegie building is that some previous Councillors, including both you and me, went out of our way to gift the use of it (a $650,000 asset) to the Treasury (ie to Morrie and Geraldine Dunwoodie and their 'crew') and we received in return absolutely no gratitude or thanks, and were campaigned against by Morrie and Geraldine et al at the next election.

Such an ungrateful, miserable lot of users I never met in my entire life and they deserve all they get from the new lot, although it appears unlikely that anything will change (lucky for them).

Dal Minogue

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

I would like to comment on Mr Minogue’s comments about The Coromandel Heritage Trust and the use of the Carnegie Library, and correct some of his misplaced assumptions.

Firstly a decision had to be made by Council, of which he was a member, as to what should happen with the Carnegie Building. We understand that some members of the Council were in favour of the building being pulled down and the section sold – a short-sighted option. Thankfully this did not happen and a decision was made that the Carnegie Library should be restored. The Trust approached Lotteries Environment and Heritage and met with a representative on site. To assist Council the Trust suggested they made an application to Lotteries and $100,000 was granted to help with the cost. The Council now owns a building of national and international significance. Expressions of interest for its use were advertised. The Trust applied along with others and the Trust’s application was accepted. Under the lease the Trust has accepted the responsibility for all future maintenance and costs including the insurance of the building. We also contributed $80,000 towards any costs in the restoration which were specifically for our needs, such as computer points, security, kitchen outfit etc. We consider our use of the Carnegie Building returns it nearly to the purpose that Andrew Carnegie donated the total cost of the building to the Thames Borough Council to construct the building in 1905 – a place to gather information.

The Trust is able to assure again the Councillors who voted for The Coromandel Heritage Trust to lease of the Carnegie Building, the Trust’s volunteers, their loyal membership, and their donors that their support has been justified, by passing on some of the recent comments which have been made. The last Te Papa representative who visited us a year ago said that this is a shining example of how a project should be conducted from start to finish. A recent review of our Feasibility Study undertaken onsite by a museum consultant who used to work for Te Papa’s National Services included the comment that “The outcome is even better than this author had imagined”. And when the Trust emailed Lotteries to thank them for their grant, they replied saying that “The Committee were very impressed with the project, and would like to put it forward to our media people, so you may be contacted by them in the future about the project.” What great, and unexpected, comments. We were delighted to get them – they made the hard work worthwhile and it can only be good for the district.

Half of the visitors to The Treasury (as it is now called) are from outside of the TCDC/HDC area, with several from overseas. We are used by genealogists, researchers (including researchers for Council’s Heritage Register update), authors, pupils, and iwi. Because of the information they have found, many people go on to visit and stay in other towns in the region. We get many people coming just to look at the building. These people, and well as the researchers, comment on its beauty. We always reply that the community is lucky the Council had the foresight not to demolish it and to restore it to as near to its original state as possible. We frequently say how much it seems right to be working in this building and how grateful we are to have had this chance. Whenever I speak to groups I always make this comment too. Mr Minogue has not been present at any of these presentations so would not know what we say.

And as to the comment that my husband and I ‘et al’ campaigned against Mr Barclay and Mr Minogue – I have no idea what the rest of the committee did as it was never discussed. I can only comment on what my husband and I did. We did not campaign ‘against’ Mr Minogue or Mr Barclay, but rather ‘for’ someone else – and the rest of the committee was not involved with us in this decision in any way. We made a personal decision and one which many others also made – does Mr Minogue attack everyone who supported another candidate? To quote Mr Minogue, “… [we] went out of our way to gift the use of [the building] … to the Treasury … and were campaigned against by Morrie and Geraldine et al at the next election.” The Trust was not aware that in accepting the lease of The Treasury, Mr Minogue expected the members to vote for him. And interestingly enough, both Morrie and I voted FOR Mr Barclay!

The last paragraph of Mr Minogue’s tirade is vindictive, childish, and shows that he has let his personal feelings for how two of us voted take over from an impartial view of what many people are doing at The Treasury, (which as far as I am aware he has not visited to ascertain exactly what it is that we do). In fact it sounds rather like sour grapes - over a decision which was made not just by us but by a large number of voters!!
Geraldine Dunwoodie

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeraldine Dunwoodie

Okay, that's it. I am closing down comment on this post right now - it has gone completely "off-post". I am not responding to any of the comments, or passing judgement - please conduct any further discussion in another forum.

April 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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