Heritage Rejection Triggers – Alterations Over the Last 180 Years! Rejection or Correction? Time For A Change. 

Inspect any home or property built in the nineteenth century and you’ll doubtless find inappropriate renovations or additions. The same applies to other structures right through to the mid-century modernist homes constructed Bayside designed by Robin Boyd, David Chancellor, Eric Lyons and others. Most such ‘renovations’ and ‘alterations’ are easily rectified and realistically the option should be available to the Heritage Council and it’s assessors to order such restorations on both early constructions and more recent mid- century modern designs to enable Heritage compliance and subsequent listing by The Heritage Council. 

A Heritage Assessment should never result in the demolition of any building considered Heritage status worthy. 

Take a look at last week’s blog/post on Sevenoaks in Balwyn (pictured in 2 images above). One of the original farmhouses in the area, the Heritage Council has refused heritage status on the basis of two easily removed Bay windows added to the structure in 1948, courtesy of a building permit issued in 1927. All the changes made to this building over the years could be rectified simply and easily. As well, there is the possibility of of semi-detached rear extensions providing a more liveable home, meeting current day’s expectations. 

This is a common theme. Whether it’s a purist position or simply a lack of knowledge in terms of architectural styles and relative importance, it’s very hard to gauge, but to deny for instance the importance of the art nouveau and art deco period of the 1920’s and 1930’s is simply poor form. This has happened time and time again – the Greyhound Hotel the London Hotel , even the Metro Theatre in Burke Street in Melbourne’s CBD were deemed not original therefore “not worthy of preservation”.

It’s really time now to revise the entire heritage platform. Review international best practice, the UK for example, and reconsider and reconfigure what actually constitutes heritage and how can such properties, buildings and features be properly preserved. 

Currently the issue is that the Heritage legislation is decidedly lacking in ‘teeth’, the power to bring rogue developers and their cohorts to heel. 

Balance Architecture has long called for a Heritage Summit here in Victoria involving the Heritage Council of Victoria, its legislative arm – Heritage Victoria, the National Trust, Developers, Real Estate Companies, Architects and Town Planners, as well as the Victorian Planning Department and relevant local government and representatives. 

Currently there is a total lack of uniformity across the board. As Architects we fail to understand how in identifying inappropriate modifications the Heritage Council cannot determine that with proper rectification to the original heritage values, or in the case of art deco and sometimes mid-century modern, why is it there cannot be orders made to rectify damage, acknowledge unique redevelopments (art deco) and to utilise current legislation to force property owners to properly maintain buildings covered by heritage listings or overlays? This legislation is already in place. It simply requires the assistance of local government authorities to ensure it is prosecuted. 

Balance Architecture can provide accurate heritage assessments in keeping with the correct Heritage Council requirements upon request for both private individuals as well as for public buildings and heritage action groups. Quite frequently it is the particular wording and the submission of drawings and imagery that define the success or failure of such applications. 

Call now on 0418 341 443 to speak with Balance’s Principal Architect, Andrew Federowicz, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, regarding your property, project or public interest heritage issue. Andrew is experienced over many years in both heritage and general architecture. Alternatively, you can leave your details here for a prompt reply.

Heritage status should be both accessible and relevant to both historical buildings and architectural masterpieces. Equally it should not be judged solely on whether the property in question appears as it did 150 years ago. Where the main features, architectural design and style can be quantified it’s time to start valuing our history and cultural heritage. It’s way past time for a change. 


Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Sevenoaks Farmhouse in Line for Demolition After Rejection of Heritage Listing Application.

Sevenoaks Farmhouse grounds,Balwyn.

Suburban heritage battles often fly under the radar. The original farmhouse Sevenoaks located in suburban Balwyn was recently the subject of a heritage listing application by Boroondara Council. It was originally built in 1894 in the late Victorian style by a Mr. John Jeffrey, coincidentally a builder. Jeffrey purchased 34 acres of crown land in 1893. In 1906 the property was sold to Mr. William Nott. Most of the property’s 34 acres were subdivided and sold by 1921 by his widowed wife. Alterations to the original home were undertaken in 1927 – two bay windows and slated hip roofs. The entrance porch in neo Victorian style is also a more recent addition. 

At the recent hearing the property was denied heritage protection by the Heritage Council of Victoria on the basis of the bay window alterations. 

Catherine Diggins and Paul Dignell of the Boroondara Residents Action Group outside Sevenoaks.

The Boroondara Residents Action Group have fought to save the property. Read about it here.

As can be seen in the report prepared by the Boroondara Council the building represented a broader heritage perspective in that it is one of the original farmhouse buildings included in the Balwyn and North Balwyn Heritage Study. (The Balwyn Study). As such it is most worthy of preservation.

Sevenoaks Farmhouse, Balwyn.

Sevenoaks represents a type of building that in, our view, is often ill considered in the overall assessment of its heritage value. Rather than noting the inevitable ‘renovations’ of the last 120 years as impediments to heritage listing, the identification of non-original alterations should become a roadmap for restoration of full heritage refurbishment. Perhaps it’s and opportunity for local government to purchase the property and the few remaining similar iconic buildings within the area to protect, preserve and restore these homes to their original display and the unique role they play in the area’s history. Please find the links here to read the full Boroondara Sevenoaks Farmhouse Report as provided to the Heritage Council of Victoria. This is a long and detailed, well prepared document and it is most disappointing to see it rejected by the Heritage Council.

Greyhound Hotel, St.Kilda.

Similar assessments have been made on other worthy buildings based on external alterations made during the early to mid-twentieth century, for example, the Greyhound Hotel in St. Kilda (pictured) and The London Hotel in Port Melbourne were both demolished based on the Heritage Council’s rejection of art deco renovations made during the 1920’s and 1930’s being deemed too extensive to rectify. Both sites have remained unoccupied for years prior to any construction commencing. 

There is a good case for the heritage protection of Sevenoaks. There needs to be a better program instituted by the Heritage Council of Victoria to restore and repair previous heritage damage as opposed to striking off the whole building based on minor alterations. Sevenoaks is an important part of the local history and settlement of the Balwyn/Deepdene area. It is well worthy of Heritage protection. 

Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It.