Heritage protections in Boroondara

Heritage buildings form a large part of our City’s unique character and Boroondara has a large number of properties registered as historically significant.

Some of the studies which formed the basis of this recognition are now many years old and it is apparent that some areas of significance have been missed.

To address these gaps, Council has allocated over $1 million over 5 years to implement a Municipal Wide Heritage Gap Study.

During a Heritage Gap Study in a particular location, we undertake an extensive consultation process with affected property owners and other interested parties.

The bulk of this consultation is done during each study’s ‘preliminary consultation’ and ‘public exhibition’ stages. There are numerous opportunities during the heritage assessment process for property owners or other interested parties to give feedback on a draft gap study.

As well as providing written submissions, owners and other interested parties will have 3 opportunities to address our Urban Planning Special Committee, which considers the feedback before making a decision on whether to adopt the study or not. In addition, there is an opportunity to present to an independent planning panel.

When a Heritage Gap Study is undertaken, it’s not uncommon to discover buildings of heritage significance, which may be subject to an existing demolition approval.

© Photo: James Oaten, ABC News

These approvals have been given prior to heritage studies being completed, before the significance of those properties is known.

Ordinarily, a property’s inclusion in a Heritage Overlay would require the owner to obtain a planning permit before they could act on their existing building permit. This is an important check built into our processes, designed to protect properties while heritage studies are completed.

However, the Victorian Minister for Planning’s ‘Amendment C299’, specific to the City of Boroondara, enables property owners with a previously-issued building permit to ignore heritage overlays and demolish historic buildings.

Indeed, the recently demolished property at 368 Auburn Road was included in an interim heritage overlay as part of our Hawthorn East Heritage Gap Study. Because of the C299 loophole, we were not able to prevent its demolition.

To avoid this situation in the future and in the absence of any action by the Minister, Council passed a motion on Monday 2 September 2019 to suspend any applications for demolition received while a heritage gap study is being completed. This process of suspending applications for demolition is supported by the Building Act 1993.

For more information about heritage protections in Boroondara, see our Heritage page.