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$12m fund to help fix heritage buildings

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/08/2016

The government has announced a $12 million fund to help strengthen privately-owned heritage buildings.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says the cost can be prohibitive when they have to be brought up to earthquake-proof standards, particularly in provincial areas.

"We don't want to see valued buildings empty and deteriorating, or even demolished, because it isn't economical to strengthen them," she said on Friday.

The fund will be contestable for all privately-owned Category One heritage buildings, and for Category Two listed buildings in high earthquake risk areas.

Applicants will be expected to match funding with local government, philanthropic, community and their own contributions.

An expert advisory panel will be set up to assess applications.

The Society for Earthquake Engineering welcomed the announcement and said the fund should reduce the risk of losing heritage buildings.

Public policy think tank The New Zealand Initiative said $12m was "a small start" but it would help owners caught by mandatory earthquake strengthening which they couldn't afford.

"Councils need to do their part not only in providing matching funding for buildings of substantial heritage value, but also in de-listing those buildings whose strengthening they are not prepared to help support," said head of research Eric Crampton.

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