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National Trust and Council’s Individual Home Heritage Policies – We respectfully disagree.

Opinion

This is a response to Kristin Stegley’s (The Age Sep 17th) and the Age editor’s (Sep 3rd) articles. I respect their positions and I respect the opinions expressed.

However, I do not support The National Trust and Melbourne Metro Council’s heritage protection orders going onto on individual homes if the owner is in disagreement.

Background

What is a Heritage order on an individual home?

It is an enforceable order placed on an individual home stating that somebody (usually connected with the local council) considers a particular home to be of architectural significance and should be preserved.

What does architectural significance or importance or “Heritage” mean?

There is no consistent public guide or definition but generally speaking if you look at the individual homes that are having Heritage orders placed on them, they are generally old, English and appeal to the “taste” or architectural education of the person placing the order on them.

What does a Heritage order mean?

These vary in their complexity but generally speaking, they prevent the total demolition of an individual home.

The issues

An individual Heritage Home Order is an impost on that specific home and ultimately its specific current owner.

Heritage Orders restrict what an owner can do with his or her home and they are retrospective – meaning when you the owner bought your home there were things you could do, like put up a new home or renovate the facade and now you cannot. After an Individual Heritage Order you no longer have the rights available to every other person in your street who does not have an individual Heritage Order on their home.

Heritage Orders reduce the individual owner’s ability to sell his or her home as many buyers do not like the restrictions a Heritage Order places on your . In and where there are a significant number of or Aussies with an Asian background that is a huge deal as it can wipe out ½ your buying market or more.

Heritage Orders reduce the of your home. One day your home is worth say $2,000,000 the next day it was worth $1,700,000. I see this every day – between 10% and 20% of a home’s value can be wiped by an individual Heritage Order. The Heritage Order costs the community nothing but costs the individual owner $300,000.

Heritage Orders affect a number of owners’ mental and emotional health and take up a lot of council officer’s valuable time as owners fight this.

Community Benefit

There are benefits to the community of an individual Heritage order – I accept that you could make a strong case that there are benefits of Heritage. However, in my opinion the community benefit does not outweigh the individual owners’ rights connected to their own individual home.

I support Overall Heritage yes, but individual Heritage orders no.

I support and congratulate The National Trust and various Councils in establishing Heritage precincts like The Gascoigne in .

I agree with keeping existing Heritage orders on existing homes (where the owner knew what they were buying).

I am for major fines on breaches like the Corkman pub. That was totally out of line.

I support Heritage orders on those public buildings deemed worthy by the National Trust.

Where I respectfully disagree, is about individual Heritage Orders on individual homes.

  1. Individual taste: Heritage Orders are often made by an individual trained along very specific architectural guidelines – and rightly or wrongly many in the community feel it is based on the individual taste of the assessor. Much of the community objects to this.
  2. Heritage is poorly sold, no public education: I think many locals don’t know what the Heritage homeowner guidelines are and may not agree with them if they did. There has been no public campaign on the or guidelines of individual home Heritage – it’s been by stealth.
  3. No consistency: Huge issue. I look at the Haverbrack Ave , a case we defended strongly. Basically, the whole street was “Heritage” free except for this one home which had a new Heritage Order slapped on it, yet the street had many similar homes AND guess what! The Heritage Order did not stand in council when fought by an opposing Heritage architect, who made a successful case that it was not worthy of Heritage. Proving point 1 above.
  4. There is seemingly an undue weighting to Anglo older . If its English, 100 years old and in a more established suburb then in should be considered for Heritage? Is that the rule? Australian Heritage is Aboriginal, yes English, but also Greek/Italian, Asian and many others – Are we not multicultural, rather than pseudo Anglo? Individual Heritage orders do not seem balanced to all our history – just the 1890s to 1930’s and then just Anglo.

I may be wrong, but The National Trust and councils could have a lot more support if they

  • Dropped individual orders without owners’ consent. By all means put them on, but only with owners’ consent
  • Focused on Heritage precincts not individual Heritage homes.
  • Educate us as to how an individual order on an individual home is of greater benefit to the community than the detriment is to the individual owner. Make a Heritage Order a plus not a minus – what about competitions etc where Heritage orders are a plus not a minus for the owners and please enough of the early 20th Century English – especially the crap. Whoops a bit of emotion.
  • Explain how Heritage groups can cater for young people’s and growing population needs in an around the infrastructure where a lot of Heritage homes are.

Heritage and its supporters (me included) need to come into the 21st Century, respect individual homeowner rights and as well find modern solutions for – all the history – of all Victorians.

Mal James

James Buy Sell

We do not work for developers – only individuals. I am not the subject of any Heritage order nor are any of our current clients.

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