Legal action by scribes to demolish a building is welcomed

The legal action relating to the demolition of the former Scribes bookshop in Dunedin has been welcomed by a heritage trust.

It was pleasing to see a careful examination of some of the work that took place on the corner of Great King St and St David St, in North Dunedin, where a two-storey 19th century building once stood, said the chairwoman of the Southern Heritage Trust, Jo Galer.

“It was an important building for the streetscape in this neighborhood,” Ms. Galer said.

“We campaigned at the time to try to save him.”

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga has filed a complaint against developer Tony Tan and architect Gary Todd and their respective companies, Dayniel Ltd and Gary Todd Architecture.

The case was adjourned this week and will be heard next month.

Mr Tan, Mr Todd and Heritage New Zealand declined to comment as the matter was before the courts.

Ms Galer said the trust looked forward to the outcome of the case.

The masonry-clad building was likely constructed in the late 19th century, according to a heritage report.

It has been used for commercial and residential purposes. Its occupants included an umbrella maker, a piano teacher and a furniture store. The Scribes second-hand bookstore had been there since the early 1990s.

The development plan detailed in the consent documents provided for the creation of another commercial premises, 10 apartments and a car park. It was about having a roof garden.

Mr Tan and his company obtained consent from Dunedin City Council in March 2021 to demolish the building.

Work began the following month, but was quickly interrupted due to lack of building permits.

Heritage New Zealand Otago-Southland office spokesman Frank van der Heijden also said at the time that the developer must obtain permission to completely demolish pre-1900 buildings or disturb any underground archaeology.

This authorization had not been obtained, he said.

In the end, permission was granted and the demolition proceeded legally in July last year.

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