Heritage hardline prevents demolition

Demolition by neglect refers to the neglect in maintaining, repairing or securing a place that results in the deterioration of either the interior or exterior of the building or its structural integrity.

Should the clause be introduced, it would give the City the power to tell the owner, occupier or person in control of a place it deems to be neglected that repair is required. If repairs were not carried out, the clause would allow the City to enter and conduct the repairs itself, with a provision that would allow it to use legal means to recover the costs.

Fremantle planning and development director Philip St John said the amendment would apply to properties on the City of Fremantle Heritage List or within a designated heritage area.

‘In order for the provisions to apply, the neglect would have to be such that it causes the loss of structural integrity or deterioration of the structure,’ he said.

‘At this stage, I anticipate that we would use expert structural engineers’ advice to assist in determining which buildings may fall within the scope of the amendment. We are recommending it to the City of Fremantle as it would significantly enhance the statutory ability of the council to deal with this issue.’

Fremantle Society president Roel Loopers, who has been a vocal advocate for a number of heritage buildings in Fremantle, said buildings such as the Woolstores and Warder’s Cottages could have been prevented from falling into the state they are in now if a policy like this had been put in place years ago.

‘I believe any legislation that prohibits demolition by neglect and forces the owner to keep buildings in good condition is a positive step toward eradicating this practice that holds communities at ransom,’ he said.

‘To let beautiful old heritage buildings rot and fall into disrepair is a selfish act of greed and is an insult to our ancestors who worked hard to build the beautiful architecture, which stand out as icons and monuments to our past.’