How does heritage affect your house?

by Urbane Property

A heritage-listed property is protected by law, regardless of who owns it. These houses, businesses and other places are given special status because they reveal the story of Australia’s past – and are expected to enrich future generations. Retaining these resources is not only nice for our grandchildren, it makes for a beautiful home and it is a sustainable way of living, too.

If you live in, or are considering buying, a property that is listed in the heritage schedule of the inner west council’s local environmental plan (LEP), or listed on the State Heritage Register or National Heritage List, you will probably have discovered by now just how much red tape you need to get past to make any changes.

It’s a lot more likely that inner west residents will come across the ‘H’ word in the context of HCA.

A heritage conservation area (HCA) is recognised for its historical and aesthetic character – one that demonstrate the evolution of Sydney’s inner west. Many of our neighbourhoods are covered by HCAs (see the inner west council website for lists and maps) including traditional federation and art deco enclaves, but also more modern places that might be considered old fashioned or even ugly.

The quality of the public areas in an HCA is generally high, with original sandstone kerbs and impressive street tree planting. The brick footpaths found throughout the Petersham area are a good example. (The paving was laid as part of a depression-era employment scheme, so it’s important in a historical context as well as an aesthetic one.)

Of course all the positives that residents love come with a flipside when it comes to renovating. There are far greater restrictions around development in an HCA, including the design and what materials can be used. The cost of it can therefore be higher and approvals may take longer.

Things that are likely to be affected include:

  • Any major external alterations such as demolition, extensions and pretty much any proposed changes that would be visible from the street.
  • Skylights and solar panels are unlikely to be permitted on the front roof plane.
  • Gardens and front fences should reflect the style of the dwelling.
  • Enclosure of verandahs and balconies is only allowed if it is considered sympathetic with the original details.
  • Paint colours may be restricted. For example, did you know there is a heritage paint scheme for the façades of buildings along King Street and Enmore Road?

But all is not lost. Internal changes such as new kitchens or bathrooms and minor alterations to improve liveability should be permitted, as may external works such as ground floor extensions to the rear of houses. Planning controls generally prefer additions to older buildings be modern and complementary rather than copying the existing design.

It’s also worth nothing that there is no requirement to restore a house within an HCA, though conservation and maintenance work to buildings is always encouraged.


Let Urbane help you find your own little piece of history. View our listings here.

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