03 Apr 2015

Iconic villa moved out of Auckland suburb

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A century-old villa is being trucked out of Herne Bay and the community is already mourning the loss.

Work to remove the landmark villa at 165 Jervois Rd, which was home to the Erawan Thai restaurant for more than 20 years, started in March.

It has been bought by a house removal company and will be on-sold.

Iconic villa moved out of Auckland suburb

Geoff Houtman protesting the removal demolition of the villa at 165 Jervois Rd.

The latest capital value of the site was $2.8 million and it is zoned for up to four storeys in the proposed unitary plan.

Western Bays advocate Geoff Houtman says the suburb will never be the same.

The villa was left unprotected when the former Auckland City Council changed the zoning of surrounding heritage sites in 1993, he said.

The Freemans Bay resident took part in a series of protests at the site in 2012.

The villa was listed for sale on Trade Me for offers above $200,000 at the end of last year.

“If the villa was a person and they were having their 110th birthday, the Queen would send them a letter, we would have a party. This just gets chucked on a truck.

“The suburb seems to be losing its character faster than everyone else,” Houtman said.

Herne Bay 1011 chairwoman Christine Cavanagh says there is a sense of foreboding for the suburb’s other villas.

It is a shame there was no consultation between the owner and the community, she said.

“The biggest concern is that you’ve got quite a lovely grouping of houses on Jervois Rd that have quite significant value to the community.

“What is council going to do about protecting the other villas on that stretch?”

The villa was bought by Craig Walker Building Removals in February and will be sold from the company’s yard in Kumeu.

Walker says the villa will be moved in three parts.

“We save things from going to the rubbish tip.

“The neat thing about it is that the house is being preserved, it’s just going to be preserved in another part of New Zealand. It’s going to provide housing for another family,” he said.

Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers is hopeful the proposed unitary plan rules will safeguard heritage villas in the future.

“We had known this was coming for a while and we have very much regretted it as a local board.

“That’s why we focus so much on getting rules right going forward.

“We hope that what’s proposed for that site will add to the environment, rather than being a second knife in the heart.”

An Auckland Council spokesperson says there are currently no resource consent applications lodged for the site’s redevelopment.

The former Auckland City Council gave the villa a certificate of compliance in 2012, so it could be removed or demolished without consent.

The neighbouring site at 6 Lawrence St has been issued the same compliance, allowing for the demolition or removal of the villa, he said.

The owner of both properties is Wisimca Company. Chairwoman Jessica Woo could not be reached for comment.


Published: Auckland City Harbour News – stuff.co.nz 03 April 2015
Photo by: Lauren Priestley