Public perception of heritage buildings in Invercargill's city centre

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Aigwi, Esther
Filippova, Olga
Sullivan-Taylor, Bridgette

This study examined the public perception of heritage buildings in the city centre of Invercargill, New Zealand. An online survey was used to gain information from the public, and address policy-related issues regarding the demolition of a significant number of heritage buildings in Invercargill’s city centre. From over 600 respondents who completed the online survey, the perception of Invercargill’s public regarding their city centre heritage buildings include: (i) 477 of the respondents were ICC ratepayers, of which about 69% of them were Invercargill residential ratepayers; (ii) the younger age groups participated the most compared to the older age groups, with a marginal gender balance of about 47% females and 48% males; (iii) a high proportion (77.2%) of the public agree that they should have their say on what happens with heritage buildings in the city centre in terms of potential alterations or demolition, and disagree (34.7%) that all heritage buildings in Invercargill’s city centre should be demolished and replaced with modern structures. Also, the open-ended responses from the online survey identified a higher perception of the public (mostly in the 25-44 age group) regarding demolishing all the historical buildings in Invercargill’s city centre and replacing them with modern structures (51%). These discoveries are expected to provide strong arguments that will guide policy regulators in Invercargill on the public’s preferences regarding the heritage buildings in the city centre. Although expert opinions from the local Council still play a central role in deciding which category of heritage buildings will be retained, information about the public’s inclinations regarding such decisions would be useful in complementing those expert judgements.

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