The burnt-out shell of the old Four Kauri Medical Centre is finally to be demolished – more than three years after the fire that left the building in ruins.
The owner of the property has at last yielded to the persistence of an Auckland Council compliance officer after a volley of questions from Mt Albert Inc on how a derelict building could remain a blot on the local landscape for so long.
That stance was picked up by ward councillors Cathy Casey and Christine Fletcher and, after weeks of delays and excuses, the demolition heavy machinery is now on site.
The council compliance team kept on the owner’s back, requiring him to stay on top of the jungle of overgrown weeds and keep the building boarded up to prevent vandals and late-night drinking parties.
In the end, the owner – who paid $2,625,000 for the property in September 2015 – apparently decided he could do without the council hassles and agreed to demolish it.
On Thursday a front end loader-style machine was moved on to the site, ready for the demolition job.
And the sooner the better for the neighbourhood and passersby who, for 37 months now, have put up with the ugly ruins at the gateway to Mt Albert.
But while demolition will remove the breeding ground for rats, mice and intruders, it may be some time yet before the owner reveals his intentions for the site.
He also holds the title for the house and land immediately behind the ruins, but Ms Fletcher’s office reported today no resource consents had been issued for either property. The latest approach to the council was a pre-application meeting in 2016, but nothing came of it and the file was closed off.
Under the Unitary Plan, the block is zoned “Residential – Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings Zone” – allowing “urban residential living in the form of terrace housing and apartments of between five and seven storeys”, according to the council website.
It would be a further affront if, as is likely, the developer’s eventual plans are treated as non-notifiable by the council.
Local people will also wait with interest for the fate of the kauri trees that gave the medical clinic its name. They are well to the front of the land and, in the decades ahead, could become notable landmarks. There seems no reason they would need to be toppled, but they have no special protection.
Earlier Mt Albert Inc stories: