Heritage plan questioned

Heritage issues came to the fore at a meeting concerning a building proposal in West Wallsend.LAKE Macquarie councillors flagged an overhaul to heritage rules in the historic West Wallsend village at Monday night’s committee meeting.

Councillors voted to overrule a staff recommendation for a proposal to demolish an existing weatherboard home in Carrington Street and construct a brick building.

The staff had recommended that the proposal be refused because the new dwelling was “inconsistent” with the character of the West Wallsend Conservation Area.

In the report provided to councillors, the staff heritage officer wrote that the development would be “detrimental” to the heritage significance of the area, and would “introduce a new dwelling” into a suburb dominated by traditional weatherboard miner’s cottages.

But Labor councillor Brian Adamthwaite moved an amendment that would allow the development be approved with a number of conditions.

He said the only sticking point was the front facade of the proposed new building, which the council had insisted include timber cladding above the windowsills.

He said it would be “unreasonable and inconsistent” to refuse the development.

“Drive along Carrington Street in West Wallsend and there are already 12 brick buildings along that street alone,” he said.

“Consistency is one of concern and the broader issue of heritage needs to be addressed in West Wallsend.”

It was the second time in recent months that councillors have overruled staff on constructions in the West Wallsend and Holmesville heritage precinct.

In February they voted unanimously to allow home owner Nicole Shelley to demolish a house in Homlesville that she said was “rotted to the core” and build two new dwellings on the land.

Independent councillor Laurie Coghlan, who voted against allowing the demolition, said the decision was “alarming”, and challenged councillors to change the conservation policy if they didn’t agree with it.

“We have a heritage area listed in West Wallsend for the simple reason it is quite a significant area with heritage,” he said.

“If we’re not in agreement in a policy which has been in existence for some time, then do something about it.’’

And while the majority of councillors voted to approve the demolition, most agreed there was a need for consistency in the policy.

Labor councillor Barney Langford said the councillors had adopted a “that’ll do approach” to heritage issues.

“What we have is a cobbled together solution.’’

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