Towards Best Practice
Elizabeth Vines and Katrina McDougall, Conservation and Heritage Consultants
Australian Heritage Commission
5 Case studies, economic evaluation and benefits
- Case Study One: Appropriate management of heritage assets
- Case Study Two: Reduction of costs associated with local government projects
- Case Study Three: Transformation of towns by verandah restoration and reconstruction
- Case Study Four: Effective use of State Government incentive funds at the local level
- Case Study Five: Appropriate development solutions in heritage precincts
- Case Study Six: Pivotal streetscape projects
- Case Study Seven: Appropriate signage in heritage precincts
- Case Study Eight: Effective regional Heritage Advisory Services
- Case Study Nine: Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings
- Case Study Ten: Involvement of Government authorities
- Case Study Eleven: Community education
The following examples indicate the range of work undertaken by Heritage Advisers and provide specific examples of tangible benefits to local communities. Many of the following examples of building conservation and adaptation would not have occurred without the input of the Heritage Adviser, and these buildings would have continued to deteriorate. In some examples, the project would have been undertaken but with works that were less appropriate implemented to these heritage places. Case Study Four provides direct evidence of heritage fund moneys allocated by the New South Wales Government being multiplied 14 times at the local Government level.
A 1992 study on the heritage and property valuations in the shire of Maldon concluded that strict heritage and planning controls have had no adverse effect on property values in the country township of Maldon in Victoria. On the contrary conservation controls have protected the town and attracted both visitors and property buyers to the area, with economic and social advantages to the town.
Property values in Maldon are comparable or higher than in nearby towns without heritage protection, and there has been no detrimental effect on property values because of the introduction of planning and heritage controls. An essential part of managing heritage sites in Maldon has been the provision of a Heritage Adviser (first introduced in 1977). (Trevor Budge & Associates, Heritage and Property Valuations in the Shire of Maldon – A Study of the Effects of Planning and Heritage Controls on Property Valuations, 1990)
Maryborough Heritage Centre, Queensland
The conservation works to the Maryborough Heritage Centre (Queensland) provide an example of a Heritage Adviser’s input on a conservation project in a country town. Works costing approximately $100,000 were undertaken to this building, with the documentation and schedule of works prepared by the Heritage Adviser in conjunction with the local Building Inspector. A standard architect’s fee for this project would have been 12 per cent of $100,000, plus associated travel expenses, ie approximately $15,000 for the consultancy fee. This project was one of the many projects undertaken by the Adviser in this city and in real terms, the consultancy fee paid from the contract amount for the Adviser was approximately one-third of the amount which would have been paid as a one-off project.
This building was erected in 1878 as the Bank of New South Wales and is now owned by the Maryborough City Council and used as the Maryborough Heritage Centre. The project received funding from the Queensland State Government.
The Republic Hotel in south Townsville was greatly improved in 1996. The owner approached the Townsville City Council for a grant to undertake restoration work and the removal of the infilled verandah rooms was proposed by the Heritage Adviser. Architectural advice was provided on appropriate works for the verandah after removal of internal partitioning. Free architectural advice and a grant of $5,000 under the Townsville City Council Cultural Heritage Program made the project possible.
In 1992 Broken Hill City Council established a Residential Building Conservation Grants Program to complement the restoration works to commercial buildings being facilitated elsewhere in the town by the Heritage Adviser. The aim of the project was to upgrade the general housing stock in the city and $300 grants or $1,000 loans were provided through the local restoration fund for improvement works to residences. This program is closely supervised by the Broken Hill Heritage Adviser and careful and accurate records are kept of monies allocated and project outcomes. Between 1992 and 1996 the total cost of all the projects was approximately seven times the total grants and loans allocated from the restoration fund. The local fund is 50 per cent financed through State Government allocations, thereby multiplying each dollar allocated from the State Government 14 times. This has had a marked effect on the appearance of residences in Broken Hill and in addition has boosted employment and local activity in the residential sector.
A critical role for a Heritage Adviser is to provide advice on new development within heritage precincts or adjacent to significant heritage listed buildings. The provision of sketches prior to the development application submission by a property owner can greatly assist the process of formulating appropriate development. These two examples show successful infill proposal and outcomes.
The Wendts Building in Argent Street, Broken Hill was conserved to the recommendations of the Heritage Adviser over a three year period (1990–92). Staged building works were more affordable and advantage was taken of tax deductibility for maintenance work which could be budgeted for over a period of time.
Originally considered by the previous owner as worthy only of demolition, the building was one of the first conservation projects on a commercial building in the city of Broken Hill. The project has been recognised as a major turning point in the public perception of the heritage significance of Argent Street. The original colour scheme was reinstated, paint removed from brickwork and the verandah strengthened and extended along the side street.
This shop and residence in Waymouth Street, Adelaide was conserved with reference to historical information and detailed on-site investigation. The full-time Heritage Officer at the Adelaide City Council facilitated the implementation of this project and financial assistance was provided through the Adelaide City Council’s Heritage Incentives Scheme. Built in the 1850s this building was subjected to various changes over the years that detracted from its original significance. In 1992 it was conserved, with particular reference made to an early photograph which showed the balcony detailing and multi-pane configuration of the early shopfront windows.
The former Halberts Hotel at 88 George Street, Quirindi (NSW) was a conservation project largely initiated by the Quirindi Shire Council Heritage Adviser who identified the potential of the building when examining and reporting on the town in early 1992. An opportunity to meet the new owners in early 1993 resulted not only in the presentation of early photographs to the surprised owners, but also advice being given about the possibility of applying for funding assistance through the New South Wales Heritage Assistance Program. The owners enthusiastically endorsed this proposal and an application was made in March 1993 for assistance.
It was decided early in the project that, as local conservation architects were not to be found in the area (and the cost of bringing that expertise to Quirindi would not be justified for such as small project), the task of developing and overseeing the project would be carried out jointly by the Buildings Inspector for Quirindi Shire Council and the consultant Heritage Adviser. Council therefore allowed a higher proportion than normal of the Heritage Adviser’s time to be spent on the project and the necessary drawings and research were carried out by the Heritage Adviser to ensure that a high-quality outcome was achieved. Good photographs held by the local historical society provided clear evidence of verandah and parapet details and these were carefully followed.
Construction work began in October 1993 and the work was completed in January 1994. The cost of the project, which was completed in a short time and on budget, was approximately $40,000. The effect on the main street of Quirindi has been outstanding. After completion, trade at the Heritage Motel (as it is now called) increased and the March 1993 figures were 38 per cent up on the previous year with an associated dramatic increase in occupancy.
One of the many tasks for Heritage Advisers is the provision of advice on appropriate signs. Brunswick Street, Fitzroy has developed as an area with interesting sign installation, and associated conservation works to buildings are negotiated with the local Heritage Adviser. In Beechworth (north-east Victoria) strict sign controls over the central area of town provide an example of appropriate signs for an important historic town. The Advisory Service at Beechworth was the second to operate in the country and has dramatically transformed the appearance of this town.
In 1987 a Heritage Advisory Service and associated Restoration Fund were established to serve the inner areas of greater Geelong. Funding from the Victorian State Government, the Geelong Regional Commission and three municipal councils established an effective funding basis for a comprehensive heritage program.
Ten years later, this program still continues as one of the most effective in Victoria. It comprises a Heritage Committee, a Heritage Restoration Fund and a regular consultant Heritage Adviser. A Heritage (Geelong Committee) Kit provides information about heritage loans and grants available, the committee structure, and annual Heritage Awards.
There have been considerable achievements under this program and the following example shows the transformation of an unattractive street frontage which was awarded a Heritage Award in 1996.
The West End Methodist Church in Ipswich, Queensland, listed on the Ipswich Heritage Register, had not been used as a church for over 20 years. It had fallen into disrepair after being used for storage. The Heritage Adviser provided advice on internal fitout, repainting, on-site parking, signage, and general liaison with the city council’s planning requirements and the building was converted into a photographic studio.
The studio fitout was installed so as to be free-standing from the original architectural elements of the church. Located within the important Burnett Street precinct, the compatible reuse has been used as a model, and is viewed locally as an effective recycling and adaptation project made possible through the efforts of the Ipswich Heritage Adviser.
The Maryborough railway station is an example where the Heritage Adviser persuaded Queensland Rail to provide funding for the reinstatement of original verandah detailing based on an early photograph. A $5,000 grant from the Queensland Department of Heritage stimulated conservation works to the building and over $70,000 was spent on the upgrading of this significant building. The building had been altered over time with original timber detailing removed and the verandah infilled. This work was reversed and the project won a local Heritage Award in 1996. This project would not have occurred without the presence of a local Heritage Adviser.
In Burra, South Australia, the Heritage Adviser has prepared a local newsletter incorporating design guidelines and local news on heritage places. It gives publicity to the Heritage Awards, the local Heritage Committee, the Burra cemetery restoration project and also profiles the local Adviser, describing his role and activities.
Burra newsletter masthead
The above case studies show that Heritage Advisory Services have stimulated local economic bases and have positively impacted on local communities, particularly in country towns of heritage character. The provision of free heritage advice has facilitated revitalisation of once-depressed towns with historic character, giving the area new focus and direction. Many locations within Australia have been assisted in this way and the local economy boosted.
The use of Heritage Advisers to provide initial architectural advice for the conservation of heritage places is extremely cost-effective, due to the efficiency of concentrating advice within the one area. The provision of associated financial incentives such as local heritage funds for conservation works has also benefited local communities and in some cases has been quantified as multiplying initial government allocation to these funds by 11 to 15 times in money spent in the local community. The economic spin-off from this State Government financial investment has been attested to in many country towns.
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