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. 

The Tale of Two Towers. Height Levels and Heritage. Council Intransigence.

Artist Impression ANZ Bank Development, South Melbourne.

In Melbourne right now there are two major battles being played out over what many consider to be two entirely inappropriate developments. One is in Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick, the other is in the heart of South Melbourne heritage precinct on Bank Street. Both were initially to be five storey and six storey towers respectively. Both gained council approval with seemingly little community consultation.The five storey building in Glenhuntly Road is now seeking a seven storey approval at VCAT. 

An artist’s impression of the proposed Glenhuntly Road building.CREDIT:GLEN EIRA COUNCIL

What developers didn’t expect was for cashed up and informed opposition to their planned construction. Blindsided they now face significant opposition in the form of neighbour Mr. John Wylie. Read about it below in the article by Chris Lucas published in The Age 19.6.21 –

Well-connected ex-banker takes on council over Elsternwick tower plan

By Clay Lucas

June 19, 2021 — 6.00am

What does the average person do if they find out a large apartment building could soon be constructed just metres from their home, without their local council giving them any warning? They complain to the council, maybe call a journalist, or perhaps pen a letter to their local MP.

But if you’re John Wylie – investment banker, Rhodes Scholar, one of Melbourne’s most well-connected businessmen, and far from the average person – you hire lobbyists to help make your case public. And you call in the state’s top planning barrister, who charges upwards of $15,000 a day, to launch a Supreme Court case against the council for the errors you believe have been made.

Mr Wylie is a former chair of Sport Australia and the MCG Trust, a former president of the State Library, and the former Australian chief executive of financial giant Lazard.

Along with his wife Myriam, Mr Wylie is taking Glen Eira City Council to the Supreme Court to overturn its approval of a five-storey building in Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick.The council approved the project “under delegation” – meaning it never went to a full council, and only some affected residents were told that it was going to be built.Mr Wylie and his wife were not among those told the building had been approved. Their home is 30 metres away from the project’s boundary, but is not directly adjacent.

John Wylie at the State Library.Credit:Arsineh Houspian

The developer, not satisfied with five levels, has challenged Glen Eira’s approval and is asking the state planning tribunal for permission to build seven.The project is to the north of the Wylies’ sprawling 4000-square-metre home, bought two decades ago for $2.1 million.

The couple has hired one of Victoria’s most successful planning barristers, former Supreme Court judge Stuart Morris, QC, who once headed the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Fellow barristers said Mr Morris’ court fees would top $15,000 a day.

An affidavit for the couple, lodged last week in the Supreme Court, says the council never had the right to approve such a building in an area where its own policies allow for only two-storey buildings. The affidavit also argues the council failed to notify the Wylies despite the project causing “material detriment” to them.

The Glenhuntly Road building in Elsternwick to be demolished for a new apartment tower.CREDIT:WAYNE TAYLOR

Along with Mr Morris, the Wylie’s have also hired lobbyists and media managers the Civic Group to help fight the proposal. The company contacted The Age over the issue, and provided a statement from Mr Wiley.

“How does a five-storey building on a site with a two-storey height limit get approved by council officers without properly consulting affected neighbours?” he said in the statement. “We’re bringing this action not just for ourselves, but for more than 20 of our neighbours.”

(L-R) The State Library’s Kate Torney, John Wylie, wife Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie and Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson in May this year.

One of those neighbours is Jon Hinwood, who has lived in his home 100 metres west of the building site for 50 years. “My house is going to be directly affected by cars coming and going” from the apartments, he said.

He and other residents fear the precedent the project may set. “Once this is approved there is no good reason to knock back any other seven-storey development here. And this is a little tin-pot shopping centre that has had a magical resurgence since COVID.”

Mr Hinwood said he was never informed by the council about the plan, despite being able to see the existing two-level building on the site from his front window.

Internal advice seen by The Age, from a council planning officer sent after the Supreme Court action was first initiated, said that “we consider that their prospects are low” of winning the case.

Glen Eira’s planning director Ron Torres said the council had approved the original application for a five-storey building but refused the developer’s seven-level proposal in February. Healey and Co, the group behind the proposal, has gone to VCAT to fight that refusal.

Asked about the court case the Wylies had brought against Glen Eira, Mr Torres said the council “does not comment on proceedings before the court”. But he confirmed Glen Eira “is defending the proceeding”.

If the legal action is successful, the original permit issued by Glen Eira council will be cancelled and the site’s owner will have to resubmit a proposal to redevelop the site.

The Age on Friday contacted Wendy Healey of Toorak and Andrew Robinson of Black Rock, the owners of the company behind the proposed apartments, but did not receive a response.

It is an apt demonstration of what is required to take on both the local council, in this case Glen Eira City Council, and powerful cashed up development interests. 

Former ANZ Bank Development

The second tower is most definitely a heritage issue. A six storey tower development has been approved for the rear of the former ANZ bank on the corner of Bank Street and Clarendon Street in South Melbourne. The developer, SheBuilt Pty Ltd, has sought permission to go to seven storeys.

ANZ South Melbourne 307 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne.

The initial call for objections was directed only at Clarendon Street residents and those directly opposite the proposed development in Bank Street. Most of these were commercial occupants. Heritage considerations were only considered as to the effect on Clarendon Street. Fourteen objections were registered, this fell marginally short of the number required – 16. 

The building proposed has its entrance on Bank Street. As such the residents of Bank Street should likely have been consulted. Consider this letter sent by a Bank Street resident to Planning Minister, Mr. Richard Wynne.

Here is an extract. 

Summary of key issues

The planning decision for approval of the 6-storey development was made in 2018, under the Council’s instrument of delegation, by a single Council officer. The developer, Shebuilt Pty Ltd now seeks an amendment to the permit, which if granted would allow a 7-storey office block to be constructed, at the rear of the historic Bank building. This decision is before the Port Phillip Council on Thursday 24 June 2021.

We are writing to bring this matter to the Minister’s attention. We believe that given the heritage nature of Emerald Hill, the scale and height of the development, and that it is adjacent to a unique and historic Bank building, this multi-storey development should:

  1. never have been approved;
  2. not have been made by a single Council officer and was therefore a derogation of the Council’s decision making. 

Given the nature of this development it should have been subjected to the scrutiny of the Council’s Planning Committee and consideration of the full Council.

The original Planning decision is so flawed that there are grounds for Ministerial intervention:

  • This important decision, to erect a prominent multi-story office block in a heritage part of old South Melbourne / Emerald Hill, should not have been made under delegation by a single Council officer.
  • The development was advertised as a development at 305 & 307-309 Clarendon Street – not Bank Street and on that basis the heritage parameters were considered from Clarendon Street. This was inappropriate and led to a flawed consideration of the Heritage policy and the wrong application of the public consultation process.
  • The multi-storey office will be accessed from Bank Street and the bulk of the building will be in Bank Street. The heritage impacts and future use impacts are on Bank Street and should have been assessed accordingly. 
  • The developer, Shebuilt Pty Ltd now seeks a further amendment to the planning approval (PA 776/2018A) to increase the height to 7 storeys (amongst other amendments). 

Heritage issues

The planning permit is a gross overdevelopment of this small parcel of land, adjacent to a unique heritage building (the old Bank building). The proposed 7 storey commercial building dwarfs the 2 adjacent buildings, the old Bank building on the corner of Bank and Clarendon Streets and the Butter Factory in Bank Street, which is currently being sympathetically redeveloped as office accommodation.

The location of this development is in old South Melbourne, Emerald Hill. The development is 50 meters from the South Melbourne Town Hall and is in line of sight of the Shrine of Remembrance. 

The heritage parameters, set by Council for the planning assessment considered the sight lines and heritage values from Clarendon Street, and did not adequately consider the effect and impacts to Bank Street, including the residences in that street. 

The multi-storey office building, if erected will the double the size of the heritage Bank building and higher than any other building in the near vicinity. It will detrimentally alter the nature of this area of Emerald Hill.

This is a Bank Street development  

The application is referenced as a development at 305 & 307-309 Clarendon Street. However, it is our contention that as the development has its main entrance in Bank Street, it is in substance, a Bank Street development. Accordingly, the planning assessment and consultation process should have focused on its impacts to Bank Street and particularly the heritage impacts to this important heritage area. 

Council officers advised that the heritage and height parameters were set in consultation with the developer – and were premised on this being a Clarendon Street development. In fact, the true impacts of this oversized development are to Bank Street. 

The consequences of assessing this as a Clarendon Street development

The incorrect characterisation that this is a Clarendon Street development has led to a series of consequential outcomes:

  • The heritage parameters were wrongly set and assessed from Clarendon Street and the sight lines were not adequately considered from Bank Street;
  • The assessment that this was a Clarendon Street development led to a flawed consultation process. Most of the residential properties along Bank Street were NOT directly notified about the planning proposals.

The statutory consultation process was flawed

The planning assessment and consultation process should have focused on its impacts to Bank Street and particularly the heritage impacts to this important heritage area. 

Council advise that 90 properties received notification, primarily in Clarendon Street, and to the commercial premises directly opposite the development site in Bank Street. The residents 25m down the road in Bank Street were not directly notified. 

We assume this this was based on the wrong premise that the development in question, was a Clarendon Street development. Accordingly, the relevant and directly impacted properties were not provided with an adequate opportunity for participation in the consultation and we believe directly led to their being only 14 objections.

Port Phillip Council delegation policy

This important decision, to erect a prominent multi-story office block in a heritage part of old South Melbourne / Emerald Hill, should not have been made under delegation by a single Council officer. Further, it is extraordinary that Council’s delegation policy is so arbitrary as to not require Council delegates to consider the overall impact of a development and consider who in fact is impacted and ensure that they are part of the consultation process. 

This was a decision that should have been made by Council for the following reasons:

  • The decision in question raised significant heritage considerations and should have been referred to Council
  • There were 14 objections.  Some of the objections were signed by more than one signatory and should have been considered as constituting more than one objection.
  • The characterisation of this as a Clarendon Street development resulted in there technically being less than the minimum 16 objections as direct notifications were sent primarily to Clarendon Street owners (predominantly commercial enterprises).
Artists Impression ANZ Bank Building development, South Melbourne – full view.

Unfortunately it appears that to contest such developments requires considerable financial capacity. It shouldn’t be the case, especially where heritage issues are concerned. Port Phillip Council have scheduled a meeting on 24 June to consider the approval for the seven storey extension to the proposed former bank development. The meeting is to be a Webex virtual meeting. Members of the public were invited to attend and following council protocol – are permitted to speak to the meeting for three minutes.

This is a project that simply should not proceed in its current format, with the major consideration being its impact on the sensitive Emerald Hill precinct. The building next door in Bank Street – the Butter Factory(as seen in the image above) has strenuous heritage controls on its redevelopment. What is the reason that the bank building tower and its  annex (which was built with strict heritage guidelines in the 1970’s) does not require such direction?

Former Butter Factory, Bank Street, South Melbourne. Credit: Commercial Real Estate.

It’s time to speak out. No more inappropriate development. It’s time to protect Melbourne’s fabulous heritage and livability. Now is the time for government intervention.

The current heritage standards are simply being ignored by developers. Height regulations are being flouted and it is now timely for the Planning Minister, Mr. Wynne to intervene. A complete overhaul of heritage protection is required – pronto. Heritage is precious. Once lost it can never be replaced. 

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Heritage – From Programmed Neglect to The Jewel in the Crown

There are some strange concepts floating around when it comes to property covered by a Heritage Listing or Overlay. Real Estate Agents are often touchy about such properties, only speaking of the limitations – a rather negative approach. Given the right planning, design and heritage restoration such properties can provide exceptional returns not to mention being a joy to live in.

The first step? Engage a qualified and experienced Architect. Principal Architect at Balance Architecture, Andrew Fedorowicz, is such an Architect, with a passion for heritage architecture and restoration. Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and has developed, managed and/or supervised a wide range of architectural projects over many years.

The key to restoration is to have a solid understanding of the original construction, the materials utilised and the design of the construction and its ultimate intent. For example, Victorian terraces often depend upon internal structural walls for the overall integrity of the building. In inner Melbourne many of the older terraces depend upon the adjoining building for structural strength. South of the Yarra River many of the older homes were constructed using blue stone lintels for foundations. Placed on sandy soils these often shift over time resulting in cracking and fissures. This is the base point of any renovation.

Then there are the cosmetic additions that provided character and beauty from ornate iron work, intricate patterned tiling, stainless glass feature windows, to tall masonry columns and pillars and wide verandas with curved iron roofing. Internally there were high ceilings with elaborate plaster mouldings, ornate light fittings and carved timber architraves and features. Gardens often had fountains with extensive beds of perennials in formal patterns with hedges and topiary. 

So what happened? Areas like South Melbourne, Albert Park, Carlton and Clifton Hill give up the story readily. Post-war migration saw Europeans from the Mediterranean settling in these areas, buying up what the ‘Australians’ of the time saw as slums. Of course, those buying often wanted to ‘modernise’ and often removed the features and artisanship of previous generations from terracotta tiling with gargoyles to ornate iron work and tiling – down it came, ripped up and replaced with concrete and terrazzo. 

Over the last 40 years many of these gorgeous old homes have been restored. Look to St. Vincent’s Place in Albert Park or in Carlton. The result? Some of the highest priced real estate in Victoria. Now it is the homes further out that are at risk – not from under -capitalised migrants but from fully capitalised developers. Homes in Armidale, Hawthorn, Kew, Brighton and Essendon that would otherwise provide a pallet to create grand restorations are disappearing at a rate of knots under the developers’ wrecking ball. 

But what if you can invest capital in a full restoration with tasteful and acceptable extensions that complement heritage? Look to those suburbs such as Albert Park mentioned earlier. In an auction two weeks ago a fully restored home in Albert Park sold for $9.9M on zoom! The developer’s story simply doesn’t always ring true. Living in a heritage home can be magnificent. High ceilings, light and airy – it really depends on just how you go about restoring. 

Start the process now – call Andrew Fedorowicz on 0418 341 443 and schedule a no-obligation, free consultation at your convenience. Or, if you prefer, simply leave your details here for a prompt reply. 

Make the very best of your superb home, your heritage property. It’s time that you transformed it into the ‘jewel in the crown’ of your street, your neighbourhood. Return it to its former glory, yet enjoy the advantages of space and modern living. Best of all be sure of a genuine return on your investment. 

Balance Architecture, Heritage Architecture At Its Very Best. In Every Detail. 

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. 

Architect Designed With Intact and Restored Heritage Features

Real Estate Agents, many Builders and modern Architects will often shy away from Heritage listed properties or those included in Heritage listed overlays. Often when it is consigned to the ‘too hard basket’ it’s simply a lack of knowledge and experience by the relevant building practitioners.  But please don’t be discouraged – heritage living can be an absolute delight. Your very first requirement? A qualified and experienced Heritage Architect. It’s time to call Balance Architecture for an obligation-free consultation. 

When? It depends entirely on the property in question. In many cases it’s a good idea to have a proper heritage inspection prior to purchase enabling you, the buyer, the opportunity to gain an understanding of exactly what is covered by the heritage ruling, what expenditure may be involved, what requires restoration and how a modern living extension or renovation can be accomplished without denigrating the heritage features and layout of the home in question. 

Heritage properties differ immensely from simple workers’ or miners’ timber cottages through to grand Victorian mansions, churches and old hotels. Each requiring a totally and very different approach.

With larger, more expansive homes, such as Victorian terraces, villas and the more ornate Queen Anne style properties, the houses feature high ceilings, solid plaster walls, timber staircases, high windows and a host of other feature, such as verandas with ornate iron lacework and decorative period tiles, stained glass windows, baltic pine flooring and magnificent fire places. However, there are draw backs – inappropriate renovations throughout the twentieth century, ancient wiring and plumbing and incongruous extensions. It’s risk and reward. With correct restoration and careful renovation a return to the complete heritage features – plaster mouldings, wood panelling and feature stained glass windows for example, will add immense value to your new property.

In regional Victoria in places such as Daylesford, Maldon, Castlemaine, Bendigo and Ballarat – old gold mining centres – there are a full range of interesting heritage buildings. These vary from the large expansive homes of the more successful miners, bankers and storekeepers of the times through to the original miners’ cottages. 

Add to this to eccentricity of the very broad ethnicity of those working on the early gold fields and you have some extraordinary variances in building styles. For example, the early constructions of the Italian community around Daylesford.

Miners’ cottages can be cosy and a comfortable retreat as a weekender or retirement living option. However, being over a 100 years old quite often they require extensive structural work to ensure further longevity and liveability. From foundations to framing, flooring and roofing these ‘quaint’ buildings (as Real Estate Agents often describe them) can be a minefield of hidden expenses. It is rare for such buildings to be intact originals in 2021 often having suffered a range of inappropriate or ‘gerry built’ modifications. Generally the façade has remained largely intact, but that is often all that remains of the original building.

The best option is to engage a suitably qualified Heritage Architect to prepare a condition report and recommendations on how to proceed with restoration and renovations. Call Balance Architecture on 0418 341 443 and speak to Andrew Fedorowicz, our Principal Architect. Andrew is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects with an enviable track record in the restoration and renovation of Heritage properties in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. If you prefer you can leave you details here for a prompt reply.

Plan for the future. Select the property you desire with confidence and a real understanding of what is required to revive and revitalise it to its former glory.

Balance Architecture – Specialists in Heritage Restoration. 

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It. 

Markets The New Target For Developments

Melbourne is fortunate to retain some excellent outdoor/indoor markets. The Queen Victoria market is a nationally listed Heritage site as well as also being Victorian Heritage listed. South Melbourne market has been successfully revitalised yet retains its character. Markets are traditionally the province of the people. They provide an eclectic mix of produce, delicatessen items, clothing and homewares at prices most people can afford. Unfortunately, there are others who view these wonderful, vibrant places as huge opportunities for real estate development. The latest in a long line of targets is the Preston market.

Preston market is relatively recent, having first opened in 1970. Markets are bustling, exciting places, traders are mostly small businesses and it’s a model that has survived the test of time. 

Property developers covet the large expanses of land these sites often represent. In this case the Preston market has been identified by Planning Victoria as a desirable project and has been fast tracked in its planning.

For the very latest update please read this article from The Age newspaper, dated 17th May, 2021. 

Fears for future of Preston Market as apartment plan looms

By Rachel Eddie

May 17, 2021 — 11.59pm

Preston Market could be redeveloped to make room for 2200 apartments under draft planning rules that the council says could wreck the 50-year-old “heartbeat of the local community”.

Up to 20 storeys of apartments could be built on the northern end of the 5.1-hectare site, according to plans drawn up by the Victorian Planning Authority and released for consultation on Tuesday.

Planning Authority and released for consultation on Tuesday.

The market would be repositioned to front Cramer Street, at the southern end of the site, and retain the existing fruit and vegetable shed to protect local heritage.

But most of the 120 stalls would be moved, allowing stallholders to keep trading during construction. The floor space for traders cannot be reduced under the proposal.

The planning authority has been reviewing the development rules for the precinct and fast-tracked the process after it was asked to identify projects that were close to shovel ready and had a high economic value to help boost the economy after COVID-19.

The authority wants to make better use of the private land to provide jobs and housing, arguing that well-connected land of that size was rare and was needed to tackle urban sprawl.

Preston Market borders Preston station, which is due to be elevated as part of a level crossing removal project.

Buildings could be up to 12 storeys high with setbacks on the southern end of the market precinct. They could be 16 storeys in the centre and 20 storeys at the northern end to make room for between 4500 and 6000 residents to move in.

Ten per cent of the apartments would need to be affordable housing and the developer would have to donate 10 per cent of the land value to create open space, most probably opposite Preston City Oval.

VPA chief executive Stuart Moseley stressed that the draft rules would make sure that any development retained a fresh food market of about the same size.

“Our draft plans ensure the Preston Market precinct offers new homes and jobs in a greener, sustainable precinct, including affordable housing, new public open spaces, new community facilities and improved transport connections,” Mr Moseley said.

Darebin Council has previously rejected development applications for the site, but a proposal to construct four buildings between nine and 14 storeys high was approved on appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The current planning controls had no heritage protections and did not provide a clear future for the market, the VPA said.

The new plans would add local heritage protections to retain the market’s character, while giving certainty to its future and improving layout and access.

How the Victorian Planning Authority imagines the market could look at the Cramer Street entrance.

Credit: VPA

Darebin mayor Lina Messina, whose first job in high school was at the market, said the precinct was “the heartbeat of the community”.

“Council is worried that under this plan, most of the market could be demolished,” Cr Messina said.

She said the council would make a submission after reviewing the details of the plan, to ensure the market remained where it was.

Councillors hardened their position on the market in March, voting to advocate for the market to be retained on the current footprint with mandatory height limits of 12 storeys.

Darebin Council also called for Planning Minister Richard Wynne to intervene in a petition, launched earlier this month.

Construction would be unlikely to begin until at least 2024, subject to any permit applications which would also need to go through a consultation and approval process.

Sam Tarascio, managing director of part-owner Salta Properties, said the owners were committed to the success and longevity of the market.

“There is a growing demand for a more modern community market environment that continues to serve the needs of the existing traders and the community, and supports growth in Preston.”

The draft plans will be open for consultation for eight weeks on the Engage Victoria website. 

Rachel is a city reporter for The Age.

The Queen Victoria market is still under threat of development by the Melbourne City Council. It seems extraordinary, but to date the City of Melbourne have yet to create and present a Master Plan for this National Heritage iconic site! 

Expect an update on this over the next few weeks. Balance Architecture attended a recent meeting where parties interested in preserving the unique nature of the Queen Victoria market met for a walk through with Melbourne City Councillor Rohan Leppert. It seems very likely that a new steering committee representing all parties interested in the status of the Queen Victoria market will now be formed.

Queen Victoria market artist impression. Attribution: Urban

Iconic markets such as the Queen Victoria, the Prahran market and the South Melbourne market should most definitely be saved from predatory developers and their land grabs. But so too should markets like Preston, Dandenong, Croydon and others that truly serve the community. Too often they disappear quietly (Moonee Ponds and Brunswick markets) and represent a lost community asset. 

It’s time to say “No thanks!” and ensure the future of ‘people’s markets’ such as Preston market. It’s high time to recognise the value of strong links with our food producers and the wonderful selection of farm to market produce that can only be found at markets.

Heritage – It Matters. Preserve It.