City steps in to stop the rot

The amendment was put in place to counter the process known as ‘demolition by neglect’ where the owner of a heritage-listed building allows it to become so dilapidated that it has to be demolished, enabling the owner to build a new property in its place.

Mayor of Stirling David Boothman said that if approved by the WA Planning Commission, the City of Stirling would be given statutory powers to intervene when a heritage house is neglected, regardless of whether it was a primary residence or not.

‘It will empower Stirling with statutory powers, not currently provided in the City’s local planning scheme, to adequately respond to residents’ concerns when a nearby heritage property is clearly being neglected with the aim of demolition by the owner,’ he said.

The provisions only apply to areas on the city’s heritage list or allocated in the heritage protection areas, Menora, Mt Lawley and Inglewood.

Meetings discussing the amendment were held between the State Heritage Office and the Cities of Stirling, Fremantle and Vincent in April and May.

‘I’m sure that other councils with similar heritage issues will be anxiously awaiting the outcome to see if they will follow our lead in introducing similar amendments to protect their heritage buildings,’ Cr Boothman said.

The City said it would consider the financial situation of the owners of heritage buildings before serving a demolition by neglect notice.

‘If the amendment is supported by the Western Australian Planning Commission, it is recommended that the City develop a management practice to guide the use of the provisions, including the factors to be considered and financial hardship may be one of these. It is also noted that serving a notice would be a last resort,’ he said.