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Deck dispute remains unresolved


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The owners of a registered heritage building in Martinborough are resisting the district council’s insistence that they repaint and alter a deck.

Chris and Marianne Hackney, who now live in Masterton, bought Martinborough’s old post office building on Memorial Square in 1984.

They say it was a “shambles” when they bought it – run down with smashed windows and collapsed piles — but they restored it, adding living quarters, and opened the Zodiac restaurant which was regarded as one of the most prestigious in South Wairarapa at the time.

They also had the 1896 building listed with Heritage New Zealand, of which they have been members since the 1970s.

But the 2013 construction of a deck has caused a stir, with South Wairarapa District Council saying the Hackneys had ceased to comply with some resource consent conditions.

Mr Hackney stands firm that his deck required no resource consent as it was below the required height for one, and he stained it brown — “the sort of colour you put on decks”.

The building now houses the restaurant and bar, Cool Change, as well as the design home-store, Jessica’s Living Room.

A consent was issued in 2014 for the addition of new double-doors to have the deck accessible from the Cool Change section of the building.

SWDC planning and environment manager Murray Buchanan said the deck was “illegally built”, and did in fact require a resource consent as it was within the heritage precinct.

He said the consent, which was issued after the fact, included the condition that the edging of the deck be painted to match the building.

But Mr Hackney said that as a rule, heritage buildings did not have decks and there was no need to “dress up” the added deck to make it look old fashioned.

“[SWDC are] just trying to muscle us into what it thinks is aesthetically right, but we beg to disagree.”

Mr Buchanan said the seating around the edge of the deck was not consented for safety reasons, and a hedge garden that was indicated in the plans had not been completed.

“[Mr Hackney] either needs to comply with the consent or take some alternative path . . . [otherwise] what he is going to face is enforcement from us.”

The ‘seats’ were actually planter boxes, Mr Hackney said, and policing them to ensure no one sat on them was impossible.

Mr Hackney said he had by no means taken away the old post office’s integrity.

He and his wife had essentially “saved the building” and the council was just being “a little bit petty”.

“We bought that old post office when it was a wreck, and we did it up, spending a lot of money on it.”

Heritage New Zealand had seen the finished product and had not indicated a problem, he said.


  1. Interesting to note that in Britain it is generally accepted that where something is added to a heritage building it is generally recommended that it quite clearly show itself to be completely different and separate to the heritage building. For instance it is frequently required to place a glass passageway between the old and new sections of the building. Sorry SWDC decks were not popular or frequently found on buildings as old as this. Nothing wrong with putting a deck there, just dont try to “Blend it in”. Its never going to do that.

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