Bethany Centre

Old maternity hospital demolished

Written by: Emma Whittaker
Published: Auckland Now / – 12 September 2012

BETHANY CENTRE: Owners said the closure last year was due to the changing needs of the community.

Demolition of the Bethany Centre is well under way, dashing hopes that the former home for vulnerable mothers could be saved.

The building at 35 Dryden St in Grey Lynn was a Salvation Army-run maternity hospital for unmarried women for almost 100 years before shutting its doors last year.

Its owners said the closure was due to the changing needs of the community and the high cost of maintaining the two-storey villa.

The property was bought in May by developer Cameron Ireland Builders.

Ireland lodged a resource consent application in June with Auckland Council to subdivide the site for five new houses.

Ireland said at the time that he was not looking to demolish the house and had found a man who was going to relocate it to Albany.

But he said the deal fell through because the new owner couldn’t get approval from the council to put it on the new site.

”Basically we tried to give it away but it didn’t work out so now it’s being recycled.”

A council spokeswoman said Ireland did not need consent to knock down the centre because it is in a residential 5 zone in the district plan and the building didn’t qualify for special heritage protection.

”The developer has said he will build homes that are compatible with the area,” she said.

Western Bays Community Group chairman Geoff Houtman is appalled by the outcome.

”It’s a disgrace. It just shows a failure in heritage protection and in the planning department. That was a landmark you could see all over Auckland and now it’s gone.”

Houtman said the plans for the site don’t fit in with the Auckland Plan focus on higher density housing.

”The average section around there is 400 square metres and here they are letting someone build sections that are 500sqm or more in size. What is the council actually trying to do – increase density or not?”

Proposed Bethany demolition will test council’s rule change

Written by: Bernard Orsman
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 22 June 2012

A council flip-flop on heritage will be put to the test with an application to demolish the historic Bethany Centre in Grey Lynn and build five houses on the site.

Developer Cameron Ireland wants to demolish the Salvation Army’s former home for unmarried pregnant women in Dryden St and develop the site without the public having a say.

His application says the site is surrounded by villas, but the effect of the project will have only a minor effect on the neighbourhood.

However, Mr Ireland’s wish to have the application approved on a non-notified basis looked less likely yesterday after the council tightened the rules on the longer process of public notification.

Until now, senior council planners have insisted the Resource Management Act and district plan rules prevented them from publicly notifying demolition applications in the Residential 1 and 2 character zones.

They also insisted that a “special circumstances” clause in the act “should not apply” to notifying demolition applications.

In the controversial Paget St case, consultant planner Brooke Dales said the public should not have a say about demolition of the 130-year-old cottage because there were “no special circumstances to warrant public notification”.

But after Paget St and other heritage issues highlighted in the Herald this year, the council received a legal opinion by Simpson Grierson which not only said it could use “special circumstances” to notify demolition applications but the clause could be more liberally used.

The council’s legal counsel, Wendy Brandon, yesterday said the council should not shy away from using special circumstances, saying factors that could trigger the clause included recognition of “protection of historic heritage”, a high degree of public interest and the age and history of the property in question.

She said the “special circumstances” clause would also apply to demolition applications outside the Residential 1 and 2 character zones and “certainly will be considered” for the Bethany property, which is zoned Residential 5.

The new rules could also apply to three current demolition applications in the Residential 1 and 2 zones at 9 Waitemata St, St Marys Bay; 84 Selwyn Ave, Mission Bay; and 33 Burwood Cres, Remuera.

The move to tighten up the rules on public notification was made by the regional development and operations committee.

It followed a recommendation from the council’s heritage advisory panel, which wanted tighter rules introduced immediately to plug a gap of several years before a new unitary plan takes effect.

Waitemata councillor Mike Lee, whose ward contains thousands of Residential 1 homes, said half the problem was the shock of people being woken by the sound of bulldozers.

“It’s time for this council to have a no-surprises policy with its own people,” he said.


April 16: “The RMA requires that a consent authority must not publicly notify the [demolition] application if a rule in the district plan precludes that – as it does under Plan Change 163.” – Dr Roger Blakeley, chief planning officer.

May 29: “If a district plan specifically provides for an activity to take place [for example, the demolition of a pre-1940s building in the Residential 1 or 2 zone] special circumstances should not apply.” – David Oakhill, resource consents team manager.

June: “The existing provisions in rule [of the district plan] provide that applications may be notified in special circumstances [and] could be more readily used by the council.” – Simpson Grierson legal advice.

June 21: “It is possible for the Auckland Council to notify [demolition] applications using special circumstances and council may consider using special circumstances more readily.” – Council counsel Wendy Brandon.