Protecting our City’s heritage
You may have seen recent media coverage of the demolition of the heritage house at 368 Auburn Road in Hawthorn. This house had been included in an interim Heritage Overlay after our Hawthorn East Heritage Gap Study identified it as having historic significance.
Usually, inclusion in an interim Heritage Overlay will require the owner to obtain a planning permit prior to acting on an existing building permit. This important step in the heritage process protects properties from demolition and recognises their contribution to Boroondara’s heritage precincts.
However, the Victorian Minister for Planning recently introduced an amendment into the Boroondara Planning Scheme (known as ‘Amendment C299’) which removes the need for a planning permit where property owners have a demolition permit issued prior to the introduction of an interim Heritage Overlay.
Because of the loophole created by the Minister, Council was not able to prevent the demolition of 368 Auburn Road. The Minister’s amendment C299 only applies to the City of Boroondara. No other municipal planning scheme in Victoria is subject to an exemption allowing heritage houses to be demolished in this way. In any other municipality in the state, this house could still be standing.
Council has requested on 5 occasions that the Minister rescind Amendment C299. While this exemption exists, more houses which should be protected under an interim Heritage Overlay are at risk of demolition.
Heritage Gap Studies have commenced for various suburbs across the City of Boroondara. To try to avoid this situation arising again, Council passed a motion on 2 September to suspend any applications for demolition received while a Heritage Gap Study is being completed. It is unacceptable for the minister to create an outcome where new knowledge about a building’s heritage significance should simply be ignored. This circumstance exists only in Boroondara because it is the only Council targeted with this amendment.
We make no apologies for acting to protect our City’s history. Boroondara residents have told us clearly that they expect us to protect our heritage buildings which keep us connected with our past. Heritage buildings are a large part of what makes our City unique.
Council has allocated approximately $250,000 per year over 5 years to implement the Municipal Wide Heritage Gap Study, with the total cost of the study exceeding $1 million. You can read more about heritage protection processes on the Heritage page of our website.
Cr Jane Addis
Mayor of Boroondara