Heritage fighter gets his hearing

FOUR and a half years after he started fighting a heritage memorial over his home at 55 Murray Street, John Lagdon has finally managed to get his plea before the Minister for Environment and Heritage.

Notorious for having painted his late 19th century home fire engine red to protest the Heritage Council listing, Mr Lagdon said Western Australia’s heritage laws removed property owners’ rights and should be overhauled.

He said his was an anomalous situation because the heritage memorial on his property title actually applied to the Young Australia League building next door.

The two properties originally shared the same title, which was later subdivided after the Young Australia League building had been entered into the heritage registry in 1996.

When the properties were subdivided the heritage memorial was automatically extended to 55 Murray Street, despite the prior heritage assessment making no reference to the property other than to note it was going to be demolished to allow an expansion of the Young Australia League building.

 “55 Murray Street is not on the Register of Significant Places and never was,” Mr Lagdon said.

“I naturally assumed when the titles were split no heritage memorial would be on my title.”

The Heritage Council assessed the heritage value of 55 Murray Street in 2000, describing the property as a simple example of a two-storey late 19th century residential building. 

The property is the only former residence in the Murray Street East precinct, having been home to prominent philanthropist, politician and property investor Timothy Quinlain in the 1890s and 1900s.

Mr Lagdon believes any heritage value has been stripped from his property, making the memorial invalid.

“Simply because a building is old doesn’t mean it has heritage value,” he said. “When all the authenticity and features are stripped off it, where is the heritage value?”

Mr Lagdon said it took him three years of letters and phone calls to secure a meeting with the Heritage Council.

 “The Heritage Council is a bit of a circus, it is not accountable and it is not democratic,” he said.

“Of course some buildings need to be protected, however, it is not right that the Heritage Council grabs as many buildings as possible and does not take into account owners’ rights.”

Mr Lagdon said the heritage legislation needed to be overhauled to ensure owners’ rights were taken into account.

“If you want to protect things for the public, the public needs to pay,” he told WA Business News.

Mr Lagdon, who is still awaiting the Minister’s decision, said if he was successful in removing the heritage memorial he planned to complete the original vision for the Young Australia League building by constructing the wing as it was originally intended.

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