KEEPING Invercargill’s heritage while progressing with the new has been at the centre of submissions and questions raised during the three-day resource consent hearing into a $200 million Invercargill inner city development.
Project manager Geoff Cotton told the hearing that, subject to consent being granted, demolition work would start mid-year and by October or November 2021 the project’s anchor tenant would open its doors.
But getting there with as little disruption as possible was also a key issue.
“We want to make sure we are not like a pain in the neck for three-and-a-half years. We don’t want to look at this as the dark days of three years. It’s exciting,” Mr Cotton said, referring to the time construction would continue.
He said all work would mostly be contained within the construction site and there would be very little disruption outside the site.
Stripping of asbestos from some of the buildings had already begun.
Mr Cotton said what could be salvaged from the buildings would be.
“It’s not going to be a guy on a digger driving through the middle and trashing everything.”
The hearings, which started on Monday and were continuing at the time of going to print, raised concerns and many questions from commissioners John Maassen, Gina Sweetman and Jane Black, as well as some residents.
HWCP Management Ltd is seeking approval to demolish 14 buildings on the Invercargill City Council District Plan.
Heritage Properties Ltd director Hayden Cawte said the proposal would also affect buildings included on the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga List, including the demolition of The Lewis and Co. building in Esk St and Newburgh.
The Bank of New South Wales in Dee St would be retained in full, while the facades of Cambridge Arcade, Coxhead and The Southland Timesbuildings would be maintained.
Retail stores, a medical centre, office spaces and a food outlet inspired by the ‘Little High’ in Christchurch are planned in the area bounded Tay, Dee, Esk and Kelvin Sts.
Mr Maassen raised concerns over whether the community agreed with the plan, but Mr Cawte said there were only six submissions which mentioned heritage matters.
“It’s not a huge amount,” Mr Cawte said.
Architect James Burgess said it would be quite a significant change for the town centre, offsetting the loss of heritage values.
“It is a game changer for the CBD. It is a significant development to Invercargill.”
The consent hearing continued until yesterday with the submissions of 11 individuals or organisations who had asked to speak at the hearing this week.
The project had the backing of the Southland Chamber of Commerce with its president Neil McAra saying of 230 businesses surveyed, 96% were in favour of the development.
However, resident Christine Henderson suggested a decision on granting consent be delayed as there had not been enough input from residents.
“If this goes ahead, people will find suddenly that they had no chance to say anything about it,” she said.