What is Historic Heritage?
Historic heritage refers to the places, buildings and structures that people value for their historical, physical and cultural significance.
The Resource Management Act (RMA) defines historic heritage as:
- those natural and physical resources that contribute to an understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s history and cultures, deriving from any of the following qualities:
- technological, and
- historic sites, structures, places, and areas
- archaeological sites
- sites of significance to Māori, including wāhi tapu
- surroundings associated with the natural and physical resources.
Therefore, heritage places can be many kinds of buildings, public and private, commercial, industrial or residential, or even places where no physical structures may be visible.
Why is council doing this work?
All Councils are required by the RMA to review the contents of their district plan at least every 10 years. It has now been more than 10 years since council last reviewed the historic heritage parts of the district plan. In undertaking this review, Hutt City Council is required by Central Government and Greater Wellington Regional Council policies to identify and protect historic heritage.
The RMA lists “the protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use and development” as a matter of national importance.
The Greater Wellington Regional Policy Statement requires council to identify places, sites and areas with significant historic heritage values and to protect these from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development.
There are indications that there are a number of sites and buildings in Lower Hutt with notable historic heritage values are not listed in the district plan. This limited listing of historic heritage may have resulted in the loss of buildings perceived by some people to be historic heritage, such as the Oddfellows Hall in Petone.
At the same time, increasing development pressure and government requirements to enable more intensive housing are increasing the risk of losing more historic heritage if it is not protected.
How does the district plan protect heritage?
Councils across the country have policies and rules in their district plans that help protect heritage buildings and sites from inappropriate development. These buildings and sites are identified using set criteria – in this case from the Greater Wellington Regional Policy Statement – and listed in the district plan for protection. Lower Hutt’s district plan places restrictions on demolition of historic heritage buildings and requires resource consent for some modifications. However, minor alterations, repairs, and redecoration are permitted.
Council has done this before, why are they doing it again now?
Council is required by the RMA to review any provision of the district plan that has not been considered during the previous 10 years. The existing historic heritage chapter of the district plan was developed in the 1990s, and became operative in 2003. The chapter has had minor updates since then, but has not been comprehensively reviewed. Since the existing district plan provisions were introduced, there have also been changes to council’s legal obligations through the RMA and the regional policy statement.
In 2011, council began preliminary work to identify potential additional sites, structures, and places for inclusion in the district plan. However, in 2012 the elected council decided not to proceed with this project.
In 2019, the elected council decided to commence a full review of the district plan. As the historic heritage provisions of the district plan have not been reviewed in the past ten years, and because new legal obligations around historic heritage have been introduced since then, council is now required to reconsider its approach to historic heritage as part of the full district plan review.
How were potential historic heritage buildings, sites, structures, places, and areas chosen? What criteria were used to identify historic heritage?
The Greater Wellington Regional Policy Statement (RPS) sets out criteria for identifying historic heritage. According to Policy 21 of the RPS, district plans must identify places, sites and areas with significant historic heritage values under one or more of the following criteria:
- Historic values: these relate to the history of a place and how it demonstrates important historical themes, events, people or experiences
- Physical values: these values relate to the physical evidence present
- Social values: these values relate to the meanings that a place has for a particular community or communities
- Tangata whenua values: the place is sacred or important to Māori for spiritual, cultural or historical reasons
- Surroundings: the setting or context of the place contributes to an appreciation and understanding of its character, history and/or development
- Rarity: the place is unique or rare within the district or region
- Representativeness: the place is a good example of its type or era.
Council commissioned a team of heritage specialists from WSP New Zealand to carry out an assessment to identify historic heritage values in Lower Hutt, based on the criteria set out in policy 21 of the RPS. These specialists have undertaken initial research for this assessment. This research now needs to be verified through fieldwork and site visits.
How have tangata whenua values been assessed?
Tangata whenua values are an important component of the historic heritage of Lower Hutt. The initial research carried out by WSP New Zealand has not included a full assessment of tangata whenua values due to a lack of the specific expertise required for this. A separate assessment of tangata whenua values will be carried out by mana whenua.
How many properties will be affected?
Initial research has identified fewer than 100 additional private properties to potentially be added to the historic heritage list in the district plan. This number is likely to reduce as more information is gathered through fieldwork.
What will this mean for my property if it is identified as historic heritage in the district plan?
If your property is listed in the district plan as historic heritage, this may place some constraints on what you can and cannot do with it. This listing may mean some restrictions on demolition, or requiring resource consent for modifications which affect historic heritage values. Following identification of historic heritage in Lower Hutt, council will review the district plan rules relating to historic heritage, and will be asking for feedback from affected property owners.
Will a heritage listing affect my property value?
Council cannot comment on what effects a heritage listing on property values might be. Values are affected by a variety of factors.
What support can affected property owners expect?
A $1.5 million fund has been set aside in council’s draft Ten Year Plan to support owners of heritage sites and buildings to maintain these treasures over the next 10 years. The draft Ten Year Plan will be open to public submissions in the coming months.
What happens next?
Over the next few months, council’s heritage specialists will be conducting field work to verify the initial findings of their research. This work will predominantly be done from public areas. In some cases, access to properties may be required. If this is the case for your property, we will contact you to discuss this further with you. Property owners are encouraged to contact council to ask questions and where relevant to discuss the potential historic heritage values identified on their properties.
Council will then consider feedback from property owners before finalising any listing.
Following the identification phase council will review the effectiveness of the existing district plan policies and rules, and will draft new district plan provisions to address historic heritage.
Council is aiming to notify a proposed district plan, including the reviewed approach to historic heritage, in mid-2022. At this point, affected property owners and the public will have the opportunity to submit on the proposed plan and to be formally involved in a public hearing process.
Property owners and residents can contact the district plan team at: firstname.lastname@example.org