Heritage Watch

Since its inception Marrickville Heritage Society has monitored Development Applications (DA’s) within the former Marrickville Local Government Area to ensure that our heritage is preserved and that any new development is appropriate to the existing environment.

Over the years MHS has advocated on behalf of buildings and sites that we believe are important to our area and have played a significant role in its history.

Successful campaigns have included the old Marrickville Town Hall on Illawarra Road, Stanmore House in Enmore, saving St. Clement’s steeple (Marrickville Road), the Marrickville Hospital/Library and the villa ‘Montrose’  at 321 Marrickville Road.

Here, we will highlight buildings and sites that are threatened by new development applications. Buildings and places that MHS believes we, as a community, need to retain to express the history and diverse nature of our place.

50-52 Warren Road

Church of Christ, 389 Illawarra Road

Otaki, 436 Marrickville Road, Marrickville

50-52 Warren Road

The Marrickville Heritage Society does not support the demolition of 50-52 Warren Road for a 42 room, four storey Boarding House. The existing pair of joined two-storey Art Deco styled apartment buildings are worthy of heritage listing, and should be retained and adapted.

The buildings were identified for local heritage listing in the former Marrickville Council’s South Marrickville Heritage Review in 2015. The buildings weren’t listed because the owners objected, and commissioned the Urbis report, which rejected listing. Council commissioned their own peer review by Graham Hall (heritage consultant), who found that…

“on inspection it is obvious that No.52, like No. 50, is a Victorian villa with a substantial extension, not simply a new façade, added in 1934. The assessment carried out by Urbis for the owner has not identified this serious error.”

Hall noted that the South Marrickville Heritage Review focussed on the nominated study area, and does not include a comparative evaluation. The full extent of the phenomenon demonstrated by these buildings, of apartment conversions of Victorian villa, and the distribution of reasonably intact examples, are not known. The research necessary for an informed assessment of the nominated items was beyond the scope of Hall’s review and the South Marrickville Heritage Study.

Hall therefore recommended that the property is not listed, but that…

“an LGA-wide heritage review of historic conversions of houses into residential flats be undertaken to fully evaluate the historic significance of the property.”

The Society believes that the buildings have aesthetic and historical significance at the local level and should be retained and protected.

We request that Council place an Interim Heritage Order on the properties while further heritage evaluation, as proposed by Marrickville Council’s independent heritage review, is undertaken.

Scott MacArthur, President, Marrickville Heritage Society.

Letter from MHS to Inner West Council.

You can view the application via Council’s on-line self-service portal, through the ‘Application Tracking’ section  www.innerwest.nsw.gov.au/develop/development-applications/track-development-applications-das. The application number is DA/2021/0066.
You may make a submission through this portal. You may refer to ‘How to track a current DA’ to help you navigate the system.

Church of Christ, 389 Illawarra Road

Marrickville Church of Christ, Photo: Facebook

Late last year Inner West Council received a DA to demolish the Federation period Church of Christ and neighbouring Queen Anne style house at 387-389 Illawarra Road and to replace it with a 7 storey, 55-room boarding house with ground floor shops. Council has consistently objected to the proposal on planning and heritage grounds, clearly advising that the century old church and adjoining Queen Anne style villa should be retained in any redevelopment of the site. The Society supported Council’s stance and requested that the development proposal be rejected.

The Church had in fact been recommended for inclusion as a heritage item in the revision and updating of the Marrickville LEP in 2015. It was withdrawn by the Administrator following an objection by the Church of Christ Property Trust, against the advice of Council staff and heritage consultants.

In relation to the house, the Society notes that a heritage report from GBA Heritage commissioned by the developer found that “the house at 387 Illawarra Road is a representative example of restrained Federation Queen Anne style, small-scale residential development within the inner western suburb of Marrickville. The building’s architecture exhibits a number of characteristics of the style. The subject property meets the threshold for LEP listing criteria [at a] local level”. 

So, in spite of knowing Council’s objections, and their own heritage advisers stating that the house was worthy of heritage protection, the developer lodged the application. To allow a further independent assessment of the significance of the Church, Council placed an Interim Heritage Order on the properties and sought a report on their heritage value. The developer  then appealed to the Land and Environment Court to over-rule Council’s deemed refusal of their proposal.

The independent heritage assessment commissioned by Council from Hector Abrahams Architects found that: 

‘The Church of Christ at 389 Illawarra Road, Marrickville is of significance to Marrickville for its historic and aesthetic values, and in the Inner West as one of a group of Church of Christ congregations and buildings, of which it is the most prominent. It is also significant for its rarity and representative values. It is locally significant to Marrickville and the Inner West more broadly, and therefore does warrant being listed as a heritage item in the Marrickville Local Environmental Plan (2011).’

The report identified some aspects of the aesthetic and historical significance of the building that other reports had omitted. The church has landmark qualities, being sited facing up Greenbank Street, as well as forming a block of highly intact Edwardian buildings with the adjoining houses and shop-top buildings that make a positive contribution to the streetscape of Illawarra Road. The church is also a good example of the work of Alfred G Newman, architect, a notable designer of protestant churches over a long career. At least six of his churches are listed as local heritage items in NSW.

On the strength of this assessment, Council voted unanimously to list the Church as a local heritage item under the Local Environmental Plan (LEP). While this should be a formality, changes to the LEP have to be ratified by the State Government, so the heritage listing has yet to be finally confirmed.

Meanwhile, the developer has been granted leave by the Land and Environment Court to amend the application in response to Inner West Council’s objections to the proposal. 
These amendments include:
– Change to the use of the ground floor tenancies to a “Restaurant or Café” and “Community Facility”. Both tenancies will be operated by Freshhope Housing Incorporated or an associated entity to reinforce that the site will continue to be a church owned and run property where the services of the church are delivered for the benefit of the community. The café will be used to train unemployed people who need assistance finding employment, and the applicant would accept a condition of consent to ensure the use of the tenancy for such purposes. The community facility will be used for community purposes including bible studies, youth services, group meetings and the like. It is noted that further details about the proposed uses will be provided in future applications for development consent.
– Removal of the four (4) short-term accommodation dwellings;
– Reduction in the number of boarding rooms from 55 to 54 double rooms;
– Reduction in the height of the proposal to comply with the LEP control;
– Increase to upper level rear setbacks to improve compliance with DCP rear envelope control;
– Increase in the number of car parking spaces from four (4) to eight (8);
– Increase in the number of manager’s dwellings from one (1) to (2);
– Consolidation of communal facilities and communal open space into one level, with adjacent internal and external communal areas;
– Provision of additional communal facilities so that the proposed development will provide for two separate ‘communities’ to increase opportunities for interaction between residents; and
– Relocation of lift cores to improve accessibility.

You can view the application via Council’s on-line self-service portal, through the ‘Application Tracking’ section www.innerwest.nsw.gov.au/develop/development-applications/track-development-applications-das. The application number is DA201900287.
You may make a submission through this portal from 17 September to 8 October 2020. You may refer to ‘How to track a current DA’ to help you navigate the system. The next hearing of The Court will take place on 19 and 20 October 2020.

The proposal still requires the demolition of the house and the Church, so the Society still objects to the development. The developer is hoping that the Court can be convinced that new low-cost housing can only be constructed in Marrickville at the expense of local heritage and neighbourhood amenity. 

Society member Gabby Richards has done a deep analysis of low-cost housing and where it is most prevalent on her website Marrickville Unearthed.

Scott MacArthur, President Marrickville Heritage Society.

Read a history of the Church of Christ and why it is important to our area.

UPDATE:

Inner West Council has voted to deny heritage protection to the Church of Christ in Illawarra Road.

This is in spite of heritage listing attracting support from almost two-thirds of responders during community consultation. The listing was also supported by Council planning and heritage staff, the independent heritage consultant and the NSW Government Heritage department (Heritage NSW).

It seems that concerted lobbying by the Church and the developer convinced the majority of Councillors that new low-cost housing can only be constructed in Marrickville at the expense of local heritage and neighbourhood amenity.

The Society would like to thank the following councillors who voted for the heritage listing: Councillors Hesse, Steer, da Cruz, McKenna, Lockie and Stamolis. Those against were Councillors Byrne, Macri, Passas, Drury, Raciti, Kiat and York. Clrs Iskandar and Porteous were absent.

The development will now be determined in the Land and Environment Court.

Scott MacArthur, President Marrickville Heritage Society.

Otaki, 436 Marrickville Road, Marrickville

A developer lodged a DA with Council to demolish the house, Otaki, at 436 Marrickville Road, Marrickville and construct five three-storey townhouses with basement parking and associated landscaping. The Society did not support the application believing that Otaki should be heritage listed and retained. 

Shortly after the advertising period closed on the DA for this beautiful late Victorian/Federation villa, the developer applied for the demolition and new apartments to be approved as Exempt and Complying Development (bypassing Council). 

Photo: Devine Real Estate

Under panicked urging by the Society and Councillor Colin Hesse, Council has applied an Interim Heritage Order on the property, temporarily halting the Complying Development process. Council has six months (from 5 August) to assess whether Otaki should be heritage listed to protect it. We can assist by providing as much historical background as possible. 

When society members visited the house in August they noticed it had been vandalised, with all of the decorative brackets under the windows neatly broken off. The Society has informed Council of this attack. 

We have undertaken research about Otaki and you can read a history of the building in our stories section.

If anyone has their own stories about this house, please contact us. Otaki is like so many of our character houses—unprotected and vulnerable. We must be vigilant. 

Scott McArthur, President, Marrickville Heritage Society.

UPDATE: Tuesday 24 November 2020

The Inner West Council has issued the following statement regarding Council’s position on the status of ‘Otaki’.

“On 5 August 2020 Council officers placed an interim heritage order on 436 Marrickville Road, Marrickville, protecting the dwelling from demolition whilst an independent heritage assessment was undertaken.

This assessment determined found that while the site is a good example of a Victorian Italianate free-standing house and would make a positive contribution to a heritage conservation area, it is less intact than comparative heritage items and does not meet enough criteria for listing as in individual heritage item. The interim heritage order is therefore revoked under Section 29 of the Heritage Act 1977.”

Scott McArthur, President, Marrickville Heritage Society.

UPDATE: Saturday 12 December 2020

Haere ra, ‘Otaki’. Farewell ‘Otaki’