Freo’s modest heritage move

FREMANTLE council is planning a blanket heritage listing to protect “modest workers’ homes” along a large section of Holland and Forrest Streets.

As part of a review of the council’s Municipal Heritage Inventory, consulting architect Annabel Wills has recommended extra planning protection along both sides of Holland/Forrest between East and Wilkinson Streets, with a small bulge to take in the Frank Gibson netball courts.

“Holland and Forrest Streets Heritage Area is comprised predominantly of relatively intact streetscapes of typical workers’ houses,” states Ms Wills’ report to the council.

Originally a farming area, housing appeared as early as 1882 then rapidly expanded during WA’s goldrush years.

The potential listing created a stir during the recent council elections, with rumours swirling the council was planning to list High Street and all its trees.

That worried home owners already concerned about McGowan government plans to realign the street to prevent the regular truck roll-overs at the Stirling Highway intersection.

“I live on High Street across from the public golf course and I, nor my neighbours, have ever been asked about what we want with regards High Street and traffic control, nor have we been asked about heritage listing our homes,” Robyn Brandt told the Herald.

“I would love to hear from the Herald…what is going on as we cannot get any answers from the shire as normal.”

• Micheal Hopper and son Ben have a gorgeous cottage in the proposed Holland/Forrest heritage area. Photo by Steve Grant

But within the actual borders, home owners the Chook spoke to were pretty happy if the listing protected their leafy streetscapes.

In fact, Susan Shipway from Forrest Street wishes it had happened earlier.

“It would have been nice if they had done it before they built those two,” Ms Shipway says of a couple of modern additions to the street that she feels detracts from its feel.

“It’s an area that no one has really considered before, and people have been doing it up.”

Ms Shipway says her only note of concern would be whether the listing added more onerous maintenance requirements and costs of the cottage she’s owned for the last 12 years.

Like Ms Shipway, renter Stein Schober says the minor discomfort of living in a house that can be a bit cold in winter and hot in summer, is adequately compensated for by their charm.

“If you look from outside the floorboards don’t reach, the windows don’t fit properly,” Mr Schober says.

Micheal Hopper had been living in Hilton before moving to Holland Street, and says the council had handled the garden suburb’s listing well. He says stricter planning rules had ensured good quality housing stock – something that hadn’t occurred across the road in Hamilton Hill – which had protected land values.

He recently travelled to Tuscany, Italy where he found a rural community divided by strict heritage rules which were designed to promote tourism but have prevented farmers from constructing barns and other important buildings.

“You have to strike the right balance between preserving your heritage and not stifling the ability to develop,” Mr Hopper said. “If the listing is to step people knocking down the old weatherboard places, it would be ok.”

by STEVE GRANT

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