This is the question a senior development consultant with nearly 20 years experience working for high profile Perth builder Dale Alcock Homes has asked councillors at the Town of Victoria Park.
Elizabeth Allen-Fisher has labelled the Town’s Weatherboard Streetscape policy a farce saying it forces owners to neglect their old homes until they are beyond repair and only fit for demolition.
Mrs Allen-Fisher represented the owners of a circa 1910 weatherboard in Devenish Street, East Victoria Park at the Town’s two meetings in February, to appeal for its demolition to make way for a single storey home featuring traditional architectural features to complement the streetscape.
As recommended in a staff report, all but one of the nine councillors agreed with his department’s conclusion that despite the home needing extensive internal and external maintenance, that it did not make a strong contribution to the Weatherboard Streetscape and that the proposed replacement home was acceptable, demolition could not be justified.
Mrs Allen-Fisher said the property owners would appeal the council’s decision to the State Administrative Tribunal.
The house is one of six weatherboards in the street, which constitutes a Weatherboard Streetscape under the Town’s local planning policy.
Mrs Allen-Fisher has described the quaint weatherboard at 39 Devenish Street as a ‘shoebox’, one that is an ‘icebox’ in winter and a ‘hotbox’ in summer with rooms not practical for today’s living and a floorplan nowhere near the accepted standards of modern homes.
‘I am all for retaining quality homes of past eras, but this is not it,’ she said.
‘It is 30sq m of house and there is no common sense in these ratepayers spending $250,000 on recladding and insulating the roof and walls when it doesn’t even earn enough rent to cover the cost of this work,’ Mrs Allen-Fisher said.
Owner Marsha Wachala told council she couldn’t increase the rent because she knew what it was like to live in the old house and would feel guilty doing so.
Mrs Allen-Fisher said the home’s 1947 extension could be demolished, but not the original home.
She said it was even more frustrating and puzzling in light of the Town’s 2009 decision to allow the demolition of a structurally sound weatherboard on Etwell Street, East Victoria Park, without plans having been submitted for a replacement house.
‘The house our owners want to build would enhance the street,’ Mrs Allen-Fisher said.
‘What’s there now is unworkable for 2014.
‘We are not in the 1920s anymore.’