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Heritage management a farce

YOUR aptly-titled report, “Heritage proves no problem,” (Business News, August 31-September 6) on the Perth City Council (PCC) approving demolition of two outstanding 1924 ‘Inter-War Old English’ style homes at 47-51 Malcolm Street, West Perth, came as no surprise.

There has been a pattern in which the PCC approves removal of buildings listed in its draft municipal heritage inventory and disregards the counsel of its heritage adviser.

Important buildings lost and-or approved for demolition in the area in the past year include the ‘Streamline Moderne’ Berkeley Flats, a Federation home adjacent to King’s Park and the Gobbles nightclub in the city.

The PCC’s municipal inventory will soon be finalised but no one can expect any wild rush by the council to bring the inventory under a town planning scheme, which would afford legal protection to listed buildings.

The two 1924 houses in question are so architecturally, socio-historically significant that they are candidates for State heritage listing.

This, however, would have to be approved by Minister for Planning Graham Kierath and it is unlikely – based on his record – that he would register the homes, especially after the local council has approved demolition.

Heritage management in WA – at both local and State government levels – is a farce.

Radical changes are needed to the weak, unwieldy and complex law and system, and in the awareness and commitment of those in power, if WA is to achieve effective heritage conservation.

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