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Otago bans new homes from using Oamaru stone

Wednesday 05 Aug 2009 12:00a.m.

Otago bans new homes from using Oamaru stone
By Dave Gooselink

Oamaru stone, the building blocks of some the South Island's grandest old constructions, has now been outlawed for use in new Central Otago homes.

The Otago District Council has caused outrage, ruling that the distinctive creamy-coloured limestone is just too bright and reflective.

A Cromwell house built with the stone won Home Of The Year two years ago - now it wouldn't get off the ground. The property's designer says it is ideal for house cladding in the region.

"It's a good application, it's got thermal qualities, and it blends in with the environment," says Brian Archer.

Tradesmen and homeowners want Oamaru stone reinstated as a legal building material.

"I think it's just another example of bureaucrats going crazy, with very little, or any justification for it," says resident Chris Hill.

The distinctive limestone is cut from the hills above Weston, just inland from Oamaru. There is a good 1000 years left in the North Otago quarry which is the sole supplier of Oamaru stone. It is popular right across the country, as well as being exported to Australia and North America.

Quarry owner Bob Wilson is bewildered an Otago council would ban stone from its own region.

"It just doesn't register with us, because that's what people are looking for," says Mr Wilson, owner of Parkside Quarries. "I've seen lots of shots of the landscapes in Otago where you get the lovely rushes and that sorts of colourings, and it blends in beautifully."

He has had support from across the country.

"They are local materials, they come out of that land, so I can't really see why they wouldn't be a suitable context for a rural landscape," says Ashley Hide, Christchurch architect.

Opponents are appealing the changes and hope their arguments won't hit a brick wall.

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