On 30 August 2019, our community witnessed the demolition of 368 Auburn Road, Hawthorn. This property was identified by Council in the Hawthorn East Heritage Gap Study as having ‘contributory’ heritage significance.
Usually, a building’s inclusion in an interim Heritage Overlay would require the owner to obtain a planning permit prior to acting on an existing building permit. This important step is designed to protect properties from demolition and recognise their contribution to Boroondara’s heritage precincts.
However, the Minister for Planning’s recently introduced loophole (known as Amendment C299) allows property owners with a building permit to override Heritage Overlays and demolish historic buildings.
The Minister’s C299 loophole only applies to the City of Boroondara and removes Council’s ability to protect our City’s heritage. No other municipal planning scheme in Victoria is subject to an exemption allowing heritage to be demolished in this way. If the house at 368 Auburn Road was in another municipality in Victoria, it would still be standing.
Council has requested on 5 occasions that the Minister remove this loophole (8 and 13 May, 24 June, 30 August and 9 September 2019). We fear without the removal of Amendment C299, more houses will share the same fate as 368 Auburn Road. Council has also written to all local members of state parliament and the Premier Daniel Andrews, seeking their assistance to have the exemption deleted. The Minister for Planning has not acted in response to our request.
Heritage buildings provide a sense of history and are part of Boroondara’s unique qualities. Our community expects us to conserve these parts of the City’s fabric which connect us with our past. To this end, Council has allocated in excess of $1 million over a 5 year period to implement the Municipal Wide Heritage Gap Study.
Council will continue to advocate for the removal of the unfairly imposed C299 loophole.
You can read the letters we have sent to the Minister for Planning below.