Initial assessment clears way for interim heritage order to be placed on Hotham House

An interim heritage order will be slapped on Hotham House at Kirrawee following a preliminary assessment by a heritage expert.

Sutherland Shire Council has the power to gazette the order, which applies immediately and lasts for up to a year while a full assessment is carried out.

There was a public outcry after the Leader revealed Macquarie Health Corporation’s expansion plans for President Private Hospital included demolishing the historic house in Hotham Road and replacing it with a car park.

The council’s Strategic Planning Committee recommended the interim heritage order (IHO) this week after receiving a preliminary report from the council’s senior heritage officer.

Given the council’s previous unanimous support for an IHO, the recommendation is certain to be endorsed at its November 19 meeting.

The senior heritage architect found the house was likely to be of local heritage significance and explained why it was not already on the register.

“A key point in the assessment is the significance of the house as a representative example of an inter-war style brick house with a high level of integrity,” a staff report said.

”The building is also considered significant through its historical association with the Balmain Starr Bowkett Society and the poultry industry in the Sutherland Shire.

“During the period of an IHO, councils are required to arrange for a detailed heritage assessment and to determine if the item warrants statutory listing.

“While an IHO can be in place for up to a year, the IHO lapses after six months unless a council resolves to add the item to its LEP (local environmental plan.”

The report said permanent protection would require amending the LEP.

“This will require a separate resolution of Council.”

The report said the council’s first comprehensive heritage review was conducted in 1993 by consultants Perumal, Murphy Wu.

The house had been evaluated in that review as having local heritage significance, being a good example of a large individually designed, inter-war brick house.

“However, council did not list the property at the request of the then owner,” the report said.

“The house was proposed to be heritage listed in SSLEP2015.

“A submission was received by the then owner of the land objecting to the proposed heritage listing.

“Given lack of proper heritage analysis, its inclusion in the LEP was not supported by the independent panel who conducted a review of Version 2 of the LEP.

“The listing was not pursued by council and the house is not currently listed as a local heritage item in SSLEP2015.”

The report said local councils were authorised to make an IHO after consideration of a preliminary assessment of the potential heritage item by a heritage expert, either employed or retained by council.

“The Office of Environment and Heritage can also initiate IHO.

“Council has been advised by OEH that using council’s delegation is the best way to proceed, as they are not able to quickly progress the request to make an IHO in this case.

“After making an IHO, council must arrange to have the order published in the Government Gazette.

“An IHO takes effect on the date of publication of the order in the Gazette.

“Council can only proceed in this manner if it has first considered a preliminary heritage assessment.

“Council’s previous resolution [to seek an IHO] was not informed by the necessary assessment.”