John Rogers, co-owner of the historic Evan's Atlas Flour Mill which he and Peter Alexander upgraded into workshops, replaces copper and lead stolen from the roof while the building lay empty. The Timaru District Council now has a policy as to how it will allocate money to help protect the district's built heritage. Its just-adopted Built Heritage Protection Fund policy formalises old guidelines that both explain and limit how the fund will be applied.
Funding assistance will generally be limited to $5000 per application and preference will be given to applications to tackle several buildings at once.
Only buildings identified as a heritage building in the district plan will be eligible for help and only work to preserve the external appearance, or structural work, will be considered.
The council's resource planning and regulation committee discussed the policy last week, noting the situation may change with the District Plan review.
Councilors also noted a lack of public awareness of the $20,000 annual fund: Councilor Pat Mulvey said "you could count on one hand" previous applications.
Heritage-listed building owner Peter Alexander said $5000 would "be very helpful" for repainting a building but was "a drop in the bucket" relative to overall costs.
The joint-owner and manager of the Evans Atlas Flour Mill, who previously restored the Oxford Building on Stafford St, expected to pay $70,000 to replace the mill's roof.
The building had already been quake-strengthened, but post-Christchurch-earthquake insurance costs were also big expenses, Alexander said.
District planning manager Mark Geddes told councilors the Timaru District Heritage Fund Trust could be used with the council's fund to help finance heritage preservation.
The Civic Trust might also be interested in jointly-funding such preservation, and the idea should be explored, Geddes suggested in his report to councilors.
Civic Trust chairman David McBride was open to the possibility. In the meantime, he hoped recent discussions led by Geddes on revitalising Timaru's CBD might have a positive impact on heritage buildings.
Once older buildings were restored, the initial investment of fixing them up was quickly recovered in most cases due to revitalisation and repopulation, he said.
Geddes told councilors preserving and maintaining historic buildings was expensive, but necessary to help preserve the district's architectural history.
This week, Geddes said increasing the amount of the Built Heritage Protection Fund was "definitely an option" that could be looked at in the future.