The Auckland Unitary Plan became operative on Sept. 29th, 2016 and with it came some very significant changes for our city. Out-of-scope proposals initially rejected by Auckland City Council were somehow adopted and the protection of the Pre-1944 Character overlay was abandoned with NO replacement provision. The pressure on Council to provide feasible housing capacity for 422,000 dwellings, and to enable growth and development of new and existing areas, has dramatically increased the challenges we face to preserve our unique Auckland Heritage. Now extra pressure is coming from Government to dilute aspects of the U.P. even further, despite modelling evidence that removing planning constraints and increasing property developments will not have an impact on housing affordability for a very long time.
Our organization is in this for the long game. By taking an active approach to both learning ourselves and educating our Community, we aim to create a liveable city without losing our treasured soul of character and Heritage in the process. We invite you to join us in our efforts !
- What now for the St. James theatre ?
This was constructed in 1928 to replace Fuller’s Opera House, which had burned down in 1926. It was designed by architect, Henry Eli White, who was responsible for a number of theatres in New Zealand and Australia, including the St. James Theatre in Sydney. The Odeon Theatre with a 670 seat capacity was added in 1957, followed by the Westend in 1966 and the Regent in 1982.
The St. James has been a hub of arts, culture and Heritage over the years, being home to various productions such as “The Black and white Minstrel Show “ in 1963, “Charlie Girl “ in 1972, and “The Royal Command Performance” for Queen Elizabeth II, in 1982, staring Sir Howard Morrison. The St. James has played host to numerous musicals, with a wall listing these in the Manager’s office.
More recently, a fire in 2007 damaged the theatre, forcing it’s closure. It was then partially reopened in 2015 after some restoration work, but another fire closed it’s doors again, requiring more renovation work, to bring the theatre up to specification of current building standards, it needs to be rewired, have a sprinkler system installed and meet earthquake-proofing standards. As this is extremely costly, the idea to incorporate offices and an apartment building complex was developed to financially support the work. Plans for a 39 storey apartment complex were approved and developer, Relianz Holdings were close to commencing the build when financiers pulled the plug in December 2016.
Notable Properties Trust, the owner of the theatre, headed by Steve Beilby, announced earlier this year (2018), that without the apartment complex, restoration could not be completed. Part of this planned new tower was to be used to make the St. James compliant on aspects such as access and toilets.
There was hope that the Govt.’s “Kiwibuild” project would finance the complex as part of it’s “Affordable Housing Programme”. However, this did not come to fruition. This begs the question, WHAT NOW FOR THE ST. JAMES THEATRE ? It would seem that the already approved apart. Complex would be the solution. Or is there another way ?