Barangaroo – What Now For Millers Point?

About 18 months ago we published a blog on Millers Point, one of Sydney’s earliest settlements. We visit it simply to show the difficulty in achieving Heritage status. Barangaroo Point is now an estimated $2B white elephant, a monument to the failure of James Packer and the Crown Resorts Group to obtain a Casino licence – they were deemed to be unfit to hold such a licence by the NSW Gaming Authority. 

Millers Point viewed from Observatory Hill 1882

It is worth reading the full article from October 29, 2019 – ‘How to Develop Heritage in Australia’s First Colony Remnants. Sydney the Place of Opportunity’ below, but before you do that consider the response in 2021 – Community Survey Heritage NSW on behalf of the NSW government. To say this is a joke would be kind – it’s downright insulting. With so many properties either sold or demolished is it now the time for consultation? Or is it time for decisive action on the part of the NSW government to offer immediate protection for the remaining neighbourhoods and their very important Heritage buildings and features?

How to develop Heritage in Australia’s first colony remnants. Sydney – the place of Opportunity.

Heritage and development – are the two qualities mutually exclusive? perhaps by revisiting a significant battle in Sydney, it’s rather intriguing to follow the process. For in many cases the battle continues. In this case the area is Millers Point, one of Sydney’s earliest settled areas.

The exposed promontory proved to be the best place to situate Windmills in early Sydney Town. As well Sandstone was extracted from a quarry at the end of Windmill St.

The area quickly became a hub of activity with wharves and warehouses. The ‘mercantile’ elite built fine homes on elevated streets whilst the workers lived in small cottages near the wharves. Millers Point had by 1850 become the maritime heart of Sydney and was set to experience a long economic boom.

Millers Point

In the 1890s the Great Maritime Strike was focused on Millers Point. It was a pivotal event in Australia’s short history. Between 1900 and the beginning of World War 1, there was an outbreak of Bubonic Plague, with the result being a massive clean-up of what was very sub-standard housing and the very first public housing ever constructed in Australia.

From post World War 2 until the 1970s saw the Maritime Services Board run worker housing and tenancies with homes often passed down through families over generations. Developers eyeballed the Rocks and adjacent areas but the BLF and its leader Jack Mundey enforced the now famous Green Bans preserving the area from demolition and devastation. Millers Point residents were very supportive of the bans fearing the ‘Development’ engine may consume their suburb.

In the 1990s the Maritime Board transferred control of its housing stock to Housing NSW. Residents were no longer wharf workers with maritime activity transferring to Port Botany.

Walsh Bay

Walsh Bay saw a development between Dawes Point and Millers Point. Luxury apartments, restaurants and a new ‘cultural precinct’ whet the appetites of developers for prime locations like Millers Point.

In 2003 Millers Point and Dawes Point village precinct was listed on the State Heritage Register. More Wharves were sold off and the new urban precinct known as Barangaroo was established.

Residences at Millers Point. Pic: High Street 1920.

By 2006, the State Government was selling off 99 year leases on 16 of the Millers Point properties, with a further 20 added in 2010 – many fetching more than $1 million. As the houses left fell into disrepair the residents were beginning to be relocated.

Enter Crown Casino – James Packer and Crown Resorts in partnership with Lend Lease announced their plans for the Barangaroo hotel and Casino. The Government proposes selling 250 public housing properties on Millers Point, by 2014 is would be 300 dwellings. The Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore is outraged by the decision and an MP Alex Greenwich called it Social Cleansing. The first 6 Heritage properties are sold for up to $3 million each. Heritage rules were ‘relaxed’ for new buyers of the Millers Point properties.

Renovated House at Millers Point

Fast forward to 2016. Shirley Fitzgerald, the former Historian for the City of Sydney spoke at the NSW Parliament.

‘Millers Point today. Woolloomooloo tomorrow. Glebe. Ultimo. Pyrmont. Surry Hills. And so on. There are pockets of public housing everywhere. Public housing that helps to make for a good city that works… So, sell them. For a quick and dirty profit today and pile up social problems for tomorrow. When we’ve achieved a completely socially segregated city where there isn’t any affordable housing in any neighbourhood which commands high land prices then we will really have problems. Social problems. Human problems. Environmental sustainability problems as the rich clog up the centre and the workers travel from the outer areas to service these inner areas. And right now, where is the government’s accounting of the immediate social costs of breaking up the Millers Point community in the unnecessarily cruel way it is being done?’

Millers Point in 1870

‘We have mentions of substitute housing elsewhere in the inner city but no promises. And rumours of further sell offs down the track. Others will talk about all this. My role here is to say something about the heritage issue.

What is heritage? We tend to think of it as ‘old stuff that we like.’ Buildings. Places. It is these things but it is far more. Heritage is what explains our past to us, and that includes far more than just the physical fabric of places. The State Heritage Register lists places that are protected under the heritage legislation. It lists things against a complex range of criteria: historical, aesthetic, social, research potential, rarity, degree of intactness – the list goes on. Significance can arise from who the people are and what the communities represent.

So forget definitions that are just about buildings. There are dozens of buildings on the State Register in Millers Point but there is also a listing for the ‘Millers Point Conservation Area’ (1999). This listing is not for this or that building in Millers Point but for the totality of the place. And ‘place’ is defined as its social fabric along with the physical fabric.

A heritage listing under the Heritage Act gives preservation some teeth. But it is a sad truth that heritage listings get updated – i.e. watered down – and when they do it is really hard to find official references to older listings. It is rumoured that the Heritage Council will have to review the Millers Point Conservation Area listing because it will be wrong once the government has kicked out all the public tenants. It was reported in the Herald at the time of the announcement of the sell off that the conservation guidelines would also be reviewed to put in place a heritage strategy that would ‘interpret’ the period of public housing. It will need ‘interpreting’ because we will no longer have it as a reality. Could anything be more cynical?

I have a reference to the 2003 listing of the significance of Millers Point as a ‘living cultural landscape’ with ‘an unusually high and rare degree of social significance’. Social significance. I cannot find this in the current listing. Even so, this is what the Heritage Register said when I last looked at it this morning. [day of the screening in Parliament House, 19 March 2015]:

There are many paragraphs, including:

  • 1.3 Its demonstrative capacity is heightened by [building listings] and by the experiences and memory of its long term community.
  • 1.4 Its public housing …and its development into a Government corporate town were probably the first such developments in Australia (apart from first settlement) and may be of international significance.
  • 3.3 [refers to ]… a pioneer programme of public housing and social improvement, demonstrated by development of a company port town by the Sydney Harbour Trust. This encompassed construction of purpose designed workers’ housing and support services.
  • 6.1 Its unity, authenticity of fabric and community, and complexity of significant activities and events make it probably the rarest and most significant historic urban place in Australia.

I’m reading all this to get it on the record before it too all disappears if the listing gets ‘modified’. I’m not a lawyer, but there is a Heritage Act and the Millers Point Conservation Area is a state significance listing under that act. And its listing unequivocally includes its significance as public housing and as community. It reads to me as though the government is in contravention of the law.

They are trashing Millers Point. Not the physical fabric, maybe. But the community, the rarity. Of course they are. This government does not want to be reminded of a time when governments undertook great public works for the public good. The Labor opposition mouths allegiance to a great social housing heritage and genuflects to people like Jack Mundey and Tom Uren, but promise little and fight for less.

That quaint old thing called public housing. Governments in the early 20th century understood that you had to have a place for workers to live in the city. They were motivated by ideas of what makes a city work efficiently as much as by ideas of the welfare state – these were and remain good ideas and they are ideas that leave for dead the current sterile ideas about maximising the bottom line.’

Source: millerspointcommunity.com.au

The National Trust was so concerned with the trashing of Heritage values that it put out its own statement:

Millers Point Under Threat

National Trust of Australia (NSW) says the sale of 293 heritage buildings in Millers Point is the most devastating attack on Australia ís nationally significant heritage since The Rocks were saved in the 1960s.

Horse and carriage at Millers Point 1800’s

National Trust of Australia (NSW) CEO Brian Scarsbrick warns rare heritage – some buildings dating back to 1820 – are being sold with no contractual heritage protection. He says all political parties should state their policy on this issue highlighting a ‘test sale’ of nine of these precious heritage properties which has produced disturbing results.

The Millers Point sale of 293 heritage buildings is the most devastating attack on Australia’s nationally significant heritage, since Jack Mundey working with the National Trust, saved The Rocks’ unique heritage during the 1960s.

High Street, Millers Point

“Australia’s rare heritage provides a vital “sense of place” for communities. Selling off heritage buildings, some dating back to 1820 (only 32 years after the First Fleet arrived), with no contractual heritage protection, exposes that precious heritage to destruction and loss” – Brian Scarsbrick AM, CEO of the National Trust of Australia (NSW)

Irreplaceable properties that go back to Sydney’s colonial roots are being sold without full protection. The Millers Point area is not just built heritage, it is social heritage. For 200 years, it has been the home and workplace for merchants, shipping companies and waterfront workers and many of the people still there are descendants together with a range of public housing tenants.

High Street, Millers Point – different view

“We are deeply alarmed at the damage facing the 293 State heritage listed properties located at Millers Point because State Heritage Register Listing alone has been proven not to be sufficient protection,

A “test sale” of nine of these heritage properties, sold outright before Christmas on freehold title with no contractual obligation to protect their heritage value, has produced disturbing results.

Merrimum Street, Millers Point.

Already a third of the properties sold in the “test sale” are subject to unauthorised works and Sydney City Council is issuing stop work notices”, said Mr Scarsbrick

The National Trust of Australia (NSW) is calling on all political parties to clearly state their policy on the protection and conservation of our nationally significant Millers Point/The Rocks.

The National Trust is not against the sale of the Millers Point properties- but it is against the inadequate conditions and manner of sale which fails to protect the heritage values of the properties. This heritage destruction must be stopped and the Trust is asking the community to stand up against this inappropriate selling off of public assets.

“History shows that selling properties in The Rocks area on 99 year leases results in only a 5% – 10% discount and the assets can return to the public estate at a greatly increased value after the lease expires”, stated Trust Director – Advocacy Graham Quint

More than $700 million worth of public heritage assets are being sold freehold and not as in the past, on 99 year leases where approvals to undertake works had to be obtained from the owner – the government. The current freehold sales of the properties have no contractual obligations to ensure that conservation works are approved and no Compliance Bond to ensure that works are carried out in a timely manner using qualified heritage architects.

Brian Scarsbrick stated “these properties could easily be sold on 99 year leases which would involve purchasers being contractually obligated to protect the properties’ heritage values. They should remain ‘in the public estate’ and return to the Government in 99 years at massively increased values. Properties could be sold and the Government and the NSW public benefits now and later. This area is a rich part of the heritage fabric of Sydney located close to The Rocks and its wealth of State Heritage Register listed buildings”.

The heritage significance of the oldest surviving, continuously inhabited urban residential precinct in Australia’s European settlement history deserves the better protection that 99 year leasehold sales can provide.

Source: nationaltrust.org.au

Key Lesson

The key lesson in this very unfortunate saga is that Heritage Listings and the Heritage Database must be kept intact. History doesn’t change. Rewriting history suits some parties but does nothing to preserve our heritage.

What has happened in Sydney is now beginning to occur in Melbourne. Areas without appropriate up-to-date Heritage overlays in operation are being savaged by developers. And here it is even worse in that buildings with heritage protection or interim heritage protection are being toppled at a rate of knots. In all the lesson is that it is a Government responsibility to provide protection for Heritage listed or proposed properties. The legislation must be current, workable and provide genuine protection

Of course, we can always subscribe to the ‘feel good’ version of such developments. From Domain…

First renovated Millers Point properties back on the market, attracting prestige buyers

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Several rundown Millers Point public housing properties sold by the NSW government in recent years have now filtered back onto the market, renovated and with hefty price tags to match.

One such property is 60 Argyle Street, listed for sale for $4.5 million, after selling for $3.175 million just over two years ago.

It’s one of Sydney’s oldest terrace homes, built by whaling captain George Grimes about 1845.

A development application submitted to the City of Sydney shows the property was changed from a boarding house to a residential dwelling at the end of 2015. It was put up for auction as part of the government’s Millers Point public housing sell-off in February 2016.

Agent Richard Shaloub, of Sotheby’s International, said the home was an investment property for the owner, with records showing it was advertised for rent, fully furnished, initially for $2,700, and then for $2,500 in April of this year.

Many of Millers Point’s terraces were home to Sydney’s low-income families and pensioners but they were evicted and moved elsewhere after the government announced plans in 2014 – despite protests from the community – to sell off its inner-city housing.

2_h10do9

The area has since undergone a metamorphosis, attracting prestige buyers with its large heritage buildings, proximity to the city and the Barangaroo precinct, as well as harbour views. The suburb’s median house price rose 36.15 per cent over the year to $2.78 million.

If the property sells for its $4.5 million asking price, it will represent a $1.325 million windfall for the seller over the two-year period they owned the property.

“A lot of people buying into Millers Point are going in for the high-end properties,” Shaloub says. “Being historic, heritage homes there’s a really strong appetite for restoring historic features. From my experience, buyers are not afraid of putting in a significant amount of capital for improvements.”

2_h10doa.jpg

“It’s a rare opportunity to buy something [in Millers Point] that has been renovated”, Shaloub says. “Everything that has been traded has been run down or dilapidated. This is one of the first that you can move straight into.”

Shaloub has another renovated Millers Point property on the books – 60 Kent Street, which sold for $1.75 million in May 2016. Also bought as an investment property, the home is currently listed for $2.75 million.

“They were both purchased for a good price. They’ve put some money in, but it’ll be a nice earner for them,” Shaloub says.

2_h10dob

“It’s a very unique proposition, it’s a very highly sought after area in the precinct”, he adds.

A five-bedroom renovated home at 53 Lower Fort Street is also currently listed for sale, with an advertised price guide of between $4.8 million and $4.9 million. It last sold for $1.575 million in 2009.

Billionaire Kerr Neilson recently bought into the precinct, paying about $5 million at auction for an unrenovated set of three apartments, formerly known as George Talbots Townhouses.

Investment banker Richard Kovacs has also purchased property nearby, paying $9.9 million for two Georgian townhouses.

A reported $550 million has been raised from the sale of 177 NSW Government-owned properties so far.

Source: domain.com.au

Median House Price Rise

Median house prices in the area rose by 36.15% in one year,during 2018.

Therein lies the story. Keep in mind these properties were all Government owned. A slice of Australia’s earliest history. But hey – it’s a good investment. The plan was that most people would purchase and spend substantial capital on heritage base renovations. The actuality is many are simply being rented out as Airbnb, to the extent that Kent St is now known as ‘Rent St’.

So beware, development is not always going to support heritage or produce the results intended or expected. And without proper Heritage protection – it’s just another building – land banked for an uncertain future. Such is life, a famous fellow once said.

Time for action we say.

Well, it’s way past the time for action. What this whole travesty of greed over our Heritage and cultural history represents is corruption at the highest levels as was reported recently on the ABC Four Corners program. It’s time to wake up! This time round we didn’t have ‘Green Warriors’ like Jack Mundy, the BLF and Wanita Neilson; there were no green bans, no deviant developers like Abe Saffron – this time it was us and the big end of town. It’s time to support those trying to save what is totally irreplaceable history – these places speak to the true beginnings of the first immigrants from Europe and the port that supported the new colony. Heritage is our responsibility, if that means taking on the wealthy and the powerful, so be it.

To assist please contact the Millers Point  Community Resident Action Group 

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

The Heritage Overlay – What Does It Mean To You As The New Home Owner?

Chadwick House at 32-34 The Eyrie, Eaglemont

Recently in Bank Street, South Melbourne a Victorian terrace house built in 1858 was sold for a reputedly $2.7M. Until recently the occupant, an elderly widow, had lived there now for nearly sixty years. In the early 1970’s the property was purchased by her and her late husband and he proceeded to render it into a liveable state. Prior to their purchase the stately two storey terrace was uninhabitable and facing a possible demolition order. Peter Downey was an ex-Merchant Seaman from Scotland. He and his wife Maureen emigrated from the UK in the 1960’s as ‘ten pound poms’. The original building itself was structurally sound with a period style slate roof in poor repair, floor boards ripped up or rotting, an original staircase and a miniscule bathroom upstairs. 

With a young family, the Downey’s first consideration was to establish a liveable family home. During the 1970’s there were no Heritage guidelines so a section was constructed to the rear of the original building comprising of a kitchen, meals area, laundry and a small bathroom/toilet. Peter rebuilt the fences, constructed a garage at the rear and removed the old outdoor brick ‘dunny’. He repainted and replastered inside as he saw fit.

The family home is now covered by a Heritage overlay with relatively strict requirements the new owners will be required to abide by. Sensibly, the first action they have envisaged and planned is to commission a full Heritage Architectural Report. In doing so they will ensure for themselves an understanding of the mandatory requirements of the Heritage overlay and what exactly they can and cannot do. 

Two years ago just up the street from this home a beautiful two-storey bluestone property sold for about $2.3M. Smaller and more compact, this property had undergone a series of inappropriate renovations. When it was first built it the 1850’s it  was purposed with the buildings adjoining it as South Melbourne’s first ‘School for Young Ladies’. In 1921 a third of the original building was demolished and a small Victorian style single storey terrace was constructed in its place. The building being discussed features a regular and well cut blue stone frontage pointed in an early stretchy bond pattern. The side wall is more rustic and in need of attention. Internally since 1998 the property has endured three renovations by three separate owners. Unfortunately none of them were anything more than cosmetic. The result? The current owner has been forced to undertake very expensive repairs. Buildings constructed in the early 1850’s are not designed to accommodate under-funded cosmetic renovations. The bathroom leaked very badly, the carpets were poorly laid and had to be removed and there are structural issues yet to be addressed. The current owner stated that she wishes she had availed herself of a properly qualified Heritage Architect prior to purchasing the property or, at least immediately after.

So-called renovations can have multiple disastrous and expensive repercussions years down the track from when they were first carried out. It’s not only sensible from a design perspective, financially it is imperative to obtain expert advice from a qualified Heritage Architect. Builders will often attempt to carry out remedial works in many instances but with a Heritage overlay these works must first be approved at local council level on the basis of both Heritage requirements and structural integrity.

Chadwick House, Eaglemont – interior

Call Balance Architects on 0418 341 443 and speak with Principal Heritage Architect Andrew Fedorowicz with regard to your property and your plans. Arrange for a professional assessment and Heritage Report on your property with a view to creating a liveable, comfortable home yet ensuring the Heritage status of your property is both recognised, respected and restored.

Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects with a genuine passion for Heritage preservation and refurbishment with many years’ experience. For a prompt response you can also leave your details here. Planning will ensure you are not confronted with major expense and insurmountable problems in the future. Owing a Heritage property in itself is a significant asset. Enhancing and restoring it can only add value to your investment. And the starting point is always a Heritage Report from a competent professional.


Heritage Architecture – The Pathway from The Past to a Better Future. 

The Real Battle? Updating Victoria’s Heritage Charter.

Nearly two years ago an article appeared in The Age on Saturday 3 August, 2019. The article posed a sensible and necessary question. Are Melbourne’s Heritage homes worth saving? The simple answer is yes, ofcourse. However, with less than 2,600 sites (that’s not necessarily homes) considered significant and worthy of State level Heritage, we are witnessing a continuing cavalcade of destruction. And it comes down to the intransigence of local municipal councils. This is, in part, financially driven, as we have been pointing out here for some time. Quite simply the increased rates from property developments that replace single dwellings with multiple storey apartment complexes on strata titles provide an irresistible carrot. The real requirement is a significant increase in budgeting expenditure by councils on ensuring Heritage Overlays are accurately maintained and expanded to reflect the true Heritage Status of many properties and sites not included in the original Heritage Overlays proposed and confirmed from the 1980’s onwards. What were then 70-year-old buildings are now over 100 years old and deserve protection. 

It isn’t necessarily about age. Where there is true architectural significance – for example, the mid-century modern designs and constructions of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s located in the Bayside council area – here real protection is required. Currently there are only a minimal number of dwellings that qualify under Council assessments with demolitions continuing in the area unabated.

So let’s reflect. We reprint in full the article from The Age by James Bennet, dated Saturday 3 August, 2019: 

They’re charming, but are they worth saving? The battle to save Melbourne’s heritage homes

by James Bennet. Saturday 3 August, 2019.

When the demolition notice went up at 55 Seymour Road, Elsternwick, neighbour Sam Dugdale didn’t know what to do.

Last-minute appeals by locals to save this historic family home failed.

Key points:

  • A petition signed by several thousand people failed to halt the house’s demolition
  • National Trust says many councils lack resources to conduct rigorous heritage reviews
  • Opposition says a review of Victoria’s heritage protections can’t recommend legislative change

“I was advised to put in an interim protection order, which I did,” she said.

It was denied.

Why? Because under Victoria’s heritage laws, individuals can only seek emergency protection for places or buildings worthy of state-level heritage protection.

Only 2,600 sites across Victoria are considered that significant.

Except in rare cases, Melbourne’s historical homes are instead protected by council-level heritage overlays.

So if, like the property on Seymour Road, a house is not already covered by a heritage overlay, it is only the council that can ask the planning minister to halt demolition while its historical value is assessed.

“How do we actually stop these terrible things from happening?” Ms Dugdale asked rhetorically.

She started a petition, which attracted more than 2,120 signatures.

But by Thursday, an excavator was clawing at the house’s front room.

“I’m devastated,” she said.

“This is 100 years of history being bowled over.”

Bulldozers moved in on the 1890 Edwardian family home.

National Trust ‘frustrated’

Victoria’s planning minister’s office says it did not receive any application from the City Glen Eira to halt the home’s destruction.

“We get calls from people about these kinds of issues every single day,” the National Trust’s Victorian advocacy manager, Felicity Watson, said.

“Its very frustrating to have these individual cases keep coming up while the systemic issue underlying that is not addressed,” she said.

Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council have both acknowledged the issue.

They’re currently conducting a statewide review of “strengths and weaknesses” of local heritage protection.

Local government shortcomings

“The reality is this is a council issue, and they’ve been neglectful,” Ms Dugdale said.

Glen Eira’s last full heritage survey was over 20 years ago, in 1996.

The National Trust says ongoing heritage assessments are critical to identify and protect significant homes before people knock them down.

In an email to Ms Dugdale, Glen Eira mayor Jamie Hyams said he “shared her disappointment” but suggested there “wasn’t much we could have done about it”.

“The last time Council looked at heritage in that area, our consultant did not recommend that stretch of Seymour Road for protection,” he said.

Councillor Mary Delahunty told the ABC that Glen Eira is currently conducting a new heritage assessment.

“These are long processes, they’re methodical processes,” she said, while acknowledging the community dissatisfaction.

“Obviously it’s on council to speed that up,” she said.

Elsternwick residents including Sam Dugdale (left) want to try stop the destruction of any more historic homes.

Preserve or prevent urban sprawl?

At the heart of these issues lies a deeper question — which homes should be preserved?

Urban planners have long hailed medium-density development — close to transport and the city — as critical to preventing Melbourne from sprawling ever outwards.

The ABC has attempted to contact the owners of 55 Seymour Road to ask what they plan to build, but has not received a reply.

“Councils do have a responsibility to provide for our increasing density,” Ms Watson acknowledged.

“But it needs to be done in a strategic way, that protects the places that we value, while also providing opportunities for growth.”

Felicity Watson of the National Trust says local councils need better funding to manage heritage protection.

Review mere ‘window dressing’

The Heritage Victoria review of local heritage protection won’t report back for another year.

It is understood that it will not have the power to suggest new laws, prompting criticism from the Opposition.

“I don’t believe it can recommend legislative change,” said planning spokesman Tim Smith.

“That shows you that this really is window dressing,” he said.

Ms Watson said many councils simply lacked the resources to conduct regular, rigorous assessments of what should be protected, and called for the State Government to fund them.

“I think this is really crunch time, where the State Government needs to work with local government to address this issue,” she said.

“It keeps coming up again and again, and the community outcry is growing.”


Quite frankly very little has changed and, to be honest, we consider current Heritage protection to be a flawed model unless all local government agencies take their Heritage responsibilities seriously. It is simply unacceptable to have some local councils rigorously enforcing Heritage Standards whilst others continues to turn a blind eye to inappropriate developments that proceed at the expense of Heritage. Height levels seem to change to suit particular projects and insignificant “faults” are continually discovered to undermine Heritage significance. Where restoration is both possible and cost effective the option should be available via Heritage Victoria to order restoration of minor Heritage transgressions. Seven Oaks in Balwyn/Deepdene is a prime example of this. Located in Boroondara council area, such an attitude and response (a demolition permit is now pending) is not surprising. Over the last three years a number of simply magnificent properties have been demolished in Boroondara.

The correct answer for Local Councils and the State Government is to allocate more funds and more expertise to true Heritage protection – provide higher funding to Local Government and the Heritage Council, to carry out timely and effective assessments. Give genuine recognition and protection to Victoria’s valuable Heritage and its remarkable buildings. Determine why the property or place is of Heritage significance, not looking for petty reasons to pronounce it is not of significance. Put a real value on the advice of the National Trust and similar bodies.

Nothing will change until there is an across-the-board co-operation and understanding. This can really only be achieve by convening a summit of all involved participants – Local Government, Heritage Victoria, the Heritage Council of Victoria, the National Trust, the REIV, the Australian Institute of Architects and prominent Developers. Such a summit will require significant planning to achieve a medium where all parties can provide input, however, ultimately what is required is an up-to-date approach to Heritage protection and a set of guidelines that provide and a set of guidelines that provide universal legislation to be applied uniformly across the entire State of Victoria. This summit should ideally be convened and held by the Victorian Government Planning Department.This summit would ideally be held by the Victorian Government Planning Department. Penalties for transgressing Heritage regulations should then be increased to a level that makes ignoring them punitive to the extreme. In the United Kingdom if a Developer demolishes or destroys a Heritage building they are offered a simple option. Rebuild it to its original status and configuration or be forced to pay someone else to do so. Fines are massive and Heritage protection is actually funded by a National lottery. 

It’s way past time to update our statutes on Heritage protection – quite simply, when Heritage is destroyed it becomes but a fading memory. Melbourne has enough such nightmares – it’s time for reform. 

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Balance Architecture – Heritage Architects.

Heritage Restoration – Experience and Expertise with Balance Architecture

Completed restoration in Williamstown.

In Metropolitan Melbourne, in major Regional cities such as Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong and in many rural areas, heritage listed properties and residences covered and bound by Heritage Overlays sometimes provide property owners with major dilemmas. 

Externally the reasons for the original nomination for heritage status are obvious. Stunning designs and early constructions, many featuring a level of artisan craftsmanship seldom found in today’s modern constructions.  Therein lies the dilemma – how best can such properties be restored and then provide the level of liveability and comfort expected today? Can a home that promises so much visually truly provide for modern living and the lifestyle choices of today?

Under restoration in Albert Park.

Each individual building is different in the most critical of areas, structural integrity. Over the last 170 years all heritage buildings and properties have been maintained, renovated, refreshed, restored and denigrated, not necessarily in that order, by previous owners. 

Some buildings have been faithfully maintained from day one, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Most heritage listed residences have suffered the indignity of what, at the time, where considered appropriate alterations, additions or part demolitions. 

Add to this the complications of old and inefficient drainage systems, plumbing and electricals. It can be as simple as storm water drainage being neglected and water lying beneath the attractive and restored Baltic pine floor boards, causing rising damp and associated mould. 

Solid plaster walls with many layers of paint, original timber flooring replaced with plywood and carpeted, and ornate features removed – Victorian iron lacework on verandas, decorative Victorian tiling, stained glass features – the list goes on.

The solution lies in planning. The first requisite is a full Architectural Report completed by a competent and experienced Heritage Architect. A Report that is entirely focussed on your individual property with a demonstrable understanding of what is required and what is permitted within the Heritage Guidelines for your property.

Structural integrity is the very first requirement – a thorough analysis of the current state of your property’s building or buildings – foundation, walls, ceilings and roofing. 

The second component is to address what your individual requirements may be and to determine feasibility and ensure both planning and heritage compliance offering a practical renovation plan to achieve comfortable and attractive liveability. 

The third component of the plan should be a practical restoration, where possible, of the innate heritage features.

From a full Report to Architectural Planning and Design should be a seamless process. With Balance Architecture it’s a process backed by many years of experience and success in genuine heritage restorations

Andrew Fedorowicz, Principal Architect at Balance Architecture is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects. Over many years Andrew has worked on a broad range of projects, and he is passionate about heritage in all its forms from simple miners or workers cottages through to grand mansions of yesteryear. He continues to thrive on unique projects, such as his latest major works, the reconstruction of the original ornate timber fernery built in the late 19thCentury at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. It’s his eye for detail and a unique understanding of historic design and construction that sets Andrew apart. 

Redeveloping the heritage aspects of your property can not only be immensely satisfying it can also add significant value to your property when executed with real knowledge and skill. Call Andrew now on 0418 341 443 and arrange for an individual consultation at your convenience. If you prefer, leave your details here for a prompt reply. 

Heritage restoration can be a rewarding and profitable experience when undertaken with guidance and genuine expertise. It’s a chance to avoid pitfalls and unnecessary rectifications and to create a living, yet comfortable, heritage gem complementing your lifestyle and your ultimate vision for your residence.

Balance Architecture – luxury, design and comfort.


Heritage Architecture – At It’s Very Best in Every Detail.