Heritage – Making Decisions.

Image of Philip Grifffiths Philip Griffiths is Director of Griffiths Architects and Immediate Past President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Western Australia, a member of AIA’s National Council and Executive. Philip is also a member of Australia ICOMOS and DOCOMOMO.

“Heritage is just one of the factors to be taken into account in considering the future of the Bayswater Town Centre and it is an important one.”    

With these words, Philip Griffiths, award-winning heritage architect, opened his address at the FutureBayswater Speaker Series #8 on  10th November2016 . The full transcript can be read here, and you can watch the Live Stream here.

Relevant to the recently announced “Review of the City of Bayswater Municipal Inventory of Heritage Places” Philip started with a warning that Identifying heritage is very important. How that is done can create stasis (as in Fremantle for many years) or it can be seen as an asset and opportunity.

And that density is a reality we must face.

More and better quality development, and increasing density is part of the new reality, especially in key locations within station zones of influence. “

How Things Were Done

Philip tooks us on a history of Municipal Inventories...

Section 45 of the Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 required local government to prepare and maintain Municipal Inventories (MHI). It was a late inclusion in the Act, and nothing was said about their purpose and how they [were] to be prepared. Nothing was said about what to do with them and this led to some scaremongering.

Bayswater prepared its MHI in [1998]… At this early stage most [MHIs] were not particularly well prepared and most focused on anything that looked quaint or old, sometimes resulting in some unfortunate listings and omissions.

MHIs had no status in Town Planning Schemes (TPS).

A ministerial working group brought about change and clarification so the MHIs simply became lists or information to inform other processes.

Out of this work, LGAs [Local Government Authorities] were encouraged to identify places and heritage areas, using MHIs as a starting point and to develop scheme provisions to protect more important places.

Eventually came guidance in the form of a revised model scheme text for the identification and protection of heritage and formalisation of the how to go about scheme lists and heritage areas and the need for development applications for places included on lists.

Shortly afterwards the state planning policy on heritage protection was launched. State Planning Policy 3.5 Historic Heritage

While some local governments reviewed their MHI’s and carefully transferred selected places onto scheme schedules, some just selected category 1, or category 1 and category 2 level places, while others just transferred in all places on their MHI, which was not the intention. A lack of proper differentiation is not helpful.

Bayswater transferred all classification 1 and 2 and 3 places into the scheme. This enables the City to require development applications (DA) to these places. The MHI document “Municipal Inventory Introduction and Context” describes all 5 classifications and expected outcomes for future management. Philip hints that a policy would be a more rigorous document to underpin the scheme list.

What Needs to be Done?

Prior to the recent announcement of the review, Philip Griffiths said

Given that the Bayswater MHI is a 199[8] work, a review would seem to be a logical next step.

Now there is guidance on how to prepare an inventory in publication prepared by the State Heritage Office Basic Principles for Local Government Inventories and Criteria for the Assessment of Local Heritage Places.

The intention is to put more rigor around the preparation, prepare better assessment and improve credibility of the final product.

1. Ensure the existing inventory meets the minimum standards
2. Review changes in the local heritage in the preceding period

The Assessment Criteria

Philip advised that

It is important for places to be considered on the basis of cultural heritage significance in accordance with the standard assessment criteria (not on the basis of objections unrelated to heritage significance)

We need assessment criteria so that assessments are:-
1. Accountable and can be tested
2. Comparable
3. Consistent

The State Heritage Office Assessment Criteria underpins the whole Inventory and guides whether a place is included in a list and what its level of significance is. Concurrently a place will also be assessed in the context of the story and development of the district as identified in the Thematic History – an important base document in a local inventory. Here’s a snap shot of the existing one from the existing CoB Municipal Inventory Introduction and Context. Page 8.

Snapshot of City of Bayswater's  Thematic Framework.

In the State Heritage Office document Criteria for the Assessment of Local Heritage Places. A place or area will be of significance to the locality if it meets one or more of these criteria:-
1. Aesthetic
2. Historic
3. Research (Scientific)
4. Social Value

There are Guidelines of Inclusion and Exclusion for each of the above

Through his experience Phil Griffiths reminds us

Of all the criteria, social value is the hardest to identify and substantiate. Care should be taken not to confuse cultural heritage significance with amenity or utility. There must be evidence that the building/place is valued over and above the activities that occur there.

Levels of Significance

​In summary of Philip's extensive information....

The next thing to do is determine a level of significance, which will guide how it should be considered in terms of management in the future. The normal practice is to the use the terms
1. exceptional,
2. considerable,
3. some, and
4. little significance.

The degree of significance is determined by
1. rarity,
2. how important it is to demonstrate a particular value,
3. its condition,
4. authenticity and
5. integrity.

So these are the basic tools that will be used to review the City of Bayswater Municipal inventory of Heritage Places. If this interests you and you want more information, click on the various links provided and enjoy.

And On a final note from Phil Griffiths...

Going through this process sorts sheep from goats and allows us to focus on what is most important.

With this information the future can be contemplated and the dialogue between past, present and future can be a lively and fruitful debate.

About the author 


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