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20 June 2006

Heritage Houses

Go to a historic Australian suburb, and to an argument over whether to keep a row of heritage houses, or to knock them down to make way for more contemporary housing.

PAUL McCARTHY: This is death row at North Adelaide. These three historic homes on MacKinnon Parade are about to be consigned to history themselves. The North Adelaide Society has been fighting to keep places such as these but victories have been scarce.

ED BRIEDIS, NORTH ADELAIDE SOCIETY: If you have a look at this particular example it's still got very good characteristics of that early Victorian feel. The tessellated tile verandah is still intact. You look at some of the ornamentation of the building and you can see that there's nothing really wrong with the building.

PAUL McCARTHY: These homes that go back to European settlement will be replaced with modern architecture.

ED BRIEDIS: There will be residences there but of a two-storey form and of a much bulkier, more massive appearance, and the one here at 109 is definitely going to look like a concrete bunker.

PAUL McCARTHY: It's a trend that's long been worrying heritage groups, and it's feared proposed federal heritage laws might throw open the door altogether for developers and their bulldozers.

ALAN GRAHAM, NATIONAL TRUST CEO: It basically reverses 25 years of established practice. The whole existing heritage regime would be reviewed and one would assume, as a consequence of any review that's undertaken, that places would be reconsidered and perhaps, as a consequence of that, delisted.

PAUL McCARTHY: The Productivity Commission has devised a plan that proposes the national system for heritage listing. It met in Adelaide today to take public submissions. Its plan proposes individual conservation agreements be drawn up for each property, effectively making listing voluntary.

TONY HINTON: A system of volunteers rather than conscripts probably produces a much more conducive outcome for community support and community attitude. That is an oversimplification as to what we have in mind but certainly we think at the moment the over-reliance on prescriptive regulation has gone too far.

PAUL McCARTHY: The commission says current laws are a mess. Some houses are being listed when they shouldn't be. Others are being lost.

TONY HINTON: The threat of listing, or actual listing, is having a perverse effect.
Conservation is not occurring and, in fact, some properties that should be conserved are being neglected, so we have demolition by neglect because of concerns about the implications of listing.

PAUL McCARTHY: The National Trust believes what's proposed favours developers when there should be a more holistic approach. It wanted measures to ease the burden of costs on heritage building owners; instead, it might give them the option to sidestep conservation.

ALAN GRAHAM: They could have, for example, made some investigation about a taxation rebate to private owners of a heritage property so they were rebated for conservation works that they undertook on their properties that they owned.

TIM SIMPSON, HERITAGE CONSULTANT: These houses were built without electric tools or much else; they were basically built by hand.

PAUL McCARTHY: Tim Simpson is a heritage consultant. His job is to breathe new life into some of Adelaide's old homes. Like others he's worried the commission's financial background means it isn't placing enough importance on history. But he also worries that the commission, and many home owners, might be getting the sums wrong, that painstaking renovations might be worth it in the long run.

TIM SIMPSON: This was an absolute shocker. It was covered in an ugly white render. When we took that off we discovered this beautiful stonework underneath. When that's re-pointed and dressed up I wouldn't hazard a guess as to exactly how much value would be added to the house but certainly it would be a lot more than the cost of the renovation.

TONY HINTON: We don't see it pro-development or anti-development. We see it as balancing the interests of property owners relative to the public good that flows from the conservation of historic heritage places.

story notes

consigned to history
Something that is consigned to history is something you can only know about by reading history books or visiting museums. It's something that is not used anymore or something that has been destroyed.

Example: Eventually landline telephones will be consigned to history.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

Here, heritage refers to things that have a historical or artistic value.

heritage listing
If a building is heritage listed it is officially protected - it canít be changed or destroyed.

drawn up
To draw up a plan or a document is to prepare it and write it out.

Example: We need to draw up a plan for the future.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb draw up, follow the link below to our language library.
more information: draw up

Something that is voluntary is done by choice.

in mind
To have something in mind means to be thinking about it or be aware of it.

Example: I kept the cost of heating in mind when planning the house.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

Gone is the past participle of the irregular verb go. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: go

Conservation is the protection of interesting or important places or buildings.

Neglected means not receiving enough care or attention.

demolition by neglect
Demolition is the destruction or knocking down of something. People arenít knocking all the buildings down - he says theyíre destroying them by not looking after them.

Implications are the future effects of an action or decision.

Here build is the past participle of the irregular verb build. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: build

To balance is to make equal.