Council’s cottage controversy

Residents Mike Deephouse, Glenda O'Riley and Rose Hawke at the site where Gull Cottage once stood. Picture: Marcus Whisson d424479
Residents Mike Deephouse, Glenda O'Riley and Rose Hawke at the site where Gull Cottage once stood. Picture: Marcus Whisson d424479

Documents obtained by a City of Stirling resident through a Freedom of Information request shows councillors changed their minds during debate and ignored the officer’s recommendations to keep the 19th century cottage on its municipal inventory.

Former councillor Leonie Getty said information brought to the committee’s attention was what led to the cottage being struck off the inventory and subsequently demolished.

The demolition sparked community ire last month, as reported by the Stirling Times, with many unaware that the cottage was no longer protected.

Trigg resident Richard Austin said it was undemocratic for a City of Stirling committee to reverse a decision to retain Gull Cottage without any community consultation and ‘sacrilege to subsequently approve the demolition’ of the local landmark.

Although content of the debate was not recorded in the minutes, Ms Getty said the owner had presented information about the amount of heritage material left in the cottage.

‘There was less than 5 per cent of the original cottage actually left in the materials,’ she said.

Ms Getty was the only councillor to vote against the cottage’s removal from the inventory, as she believed the City was losing too many heritage buildings.

‘They spoke about the materials and I still stuck by my guns because we’re losing so much heritage in the City of Stirling it’s just unbelievable; if you’re a developer you can take a few panels of the walls and it can be bulldozed,’ she said. ‘All through the time I was on council I did find constant inconsistencies with the housing on the heritage list.’

The committee’s decision to remove Gull Cottage from the municipal inventory came in the middle of an internal review into the City’s approach to its heritage list.

The decision ignored an officer recommendation not to consider requests for de-listing properties from the inventory until the review had concluded.

Stirling city planning manager Fraser Henderson said heritage policies had changed since 2012 but the City was still able to remove buildings from the municipal inventory at owner request.

‘It is important to clarify the distinction between the City’s municipal inventory, now referred to as the local government heritage inventory, and heritage list,’ he said.