There has been plenty of discussion about the heritage and the built environment, especially about how we define, protect and enjoy heritage as Perth becomes a denser city.
Some believe the introduction of new planning schemes – such as Subiaco’s LPS5, a blueprint for greater density close to train stations – will override existing heritage protections,l while others worry that new heritage protection costs and extra red tape. But did you know that in the Subiaco council area, up to 10 older homes are demolished each year?
As an architect who has worked with heritage buildings for most of my 30-year career, this statistic reinforces the need to identify and protect the cultural heritage values that make this area so desirable.
I believe much of the angst about heritage listing stems from a lack of understandable, accessible communication from government. This creates a hot-bed of concern and misinformation in the community.
It is important to investigate which heritage list applies to your property or street, via the InHerit online database or your local council website. Then determine the associated requirements and/or restrictions.
For example, state heritage listings may stipulate you cant demolish a building, but you can often apply for grants to restore elements, such as roofs.
If your house is deemed to have local significance, it will be identified on your council’s municipal inventory or heritage list, which identifies qualities that may have enticed you to the property in the first place, such as ornate period details, the way it sits in a tree-lined street, or that a famous citizen lived there previously.
These local graded listings also have different requirements that range from simply providing the council with photos of the original house before demolition, through to ensuring that any new additions respect the original building.
Lastly, if your entire street is recommended for heritage protection, as Lawler Street in Subiaco recently was (a move that was defeated by protests from residents), those controls define and protect the special qualities of a collection of places not an individual house.
So a homeowner’s recent assertion that a street listing would lead to higher insurance premiums and “tortuous bureaucracy” is simply not true.
If the topic of heritage still seems confusing. I recommend working with an architect who has heritage experience. Together you can achieve a beautiful outcome that is good for your family and your community. Check out the State Heritage Office’s list of professionals, or the Australian Institute of Architects’ wbsite, www.findanarchitect.com.au
Preserving our heritage – and working alongside it in a complementary way – helps to maintain links to our past and prepare for our future. After all, whatever we do today will be the heritage of tomorrow. Let’s leave a positive legacy.
First published in The Subiaco Post 031118 | Architects Brief with Suzie Hunt