Heritage buildings on the endangered list

UP to 500 heritage properties within the City of Perth remain unprotected and vulnerable to demolition, with the Perth City Council still waiting on the State Government to help with problems in deciding heritage issues.

After dropping the 500 properties from its Municipal Heritage Inventory in March, the city council plans to form a Heritage Committee to re-evaluate them. But before this can be done, the issue of who will be allowed on the committee must be resolved.

Last month the council wrote to Local Government Minister Michelle Roberts requesting allowances be made for four councillors, presently unable to vote on heritage issues, to allow them to sit on the council’s heritage committee.

The council has asked Mrs Roberts to relax the regulations determining conflicts of interest in relation to the heritage issue, allowing all councillors to vote or sit on a committee as long as there is no direct conflict of interest.

No response has been received from the minister as yet, leaving the properties’ future on uncertain ground.

The properties cut from the list were classed as having level two or three heritage significance by the city’s administration, in conjunction with the Heritage Council. And while some of the properties are protected under the City Planning Scheme, many are now without any protection.

This has left the door open for owners to develop or possibly demolish properties without being forced to consider conservation of heritage.

Since the list was cut, several demolitions of properties with heritage significance have been approved, but according to Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass, even if these properties had been included on the heritage inventory list, it was likely they would have been approved for demolition anyway.

In two cases the council’s heritage adviser recommended the council encourage applicants to alter development plans to keep significant buildings and to offer incentives for them to do so.

Two houses to be demolished in Bennett Street were cited by the adviser as being “of aesthetic significance as relatively intact examples of a diminishing number of residential buildings constructed during the late 19th and early 20th century”.

“They’d be silly if they didn’t take advantage of this,” Cr Bert Tudori said.

“There is no protection for these properties at the moment, so people can put in a development application and we do not have the legal right to stop it based on heritage issues.”

All of the properties in West Perth, including some of the suburb’s original buildings, were cut from the inventory along with several properties on Barrack Street, Beaufort Street and Aberdeen Street, and most of the two-storey commercial buildings on Murray Street between William and Milligan Streets.

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