Statements of Heritage Impact
What are Statements of Heritage Impact used for? How do such statements have a bearing on heritage and conservation? The conservation of heritage in NSW includes ongoing maintenance. Any action contemplated by an owner or an applicant in regard to heritage buildings and places needs to determine the following or at least have his heritage consultant/ conservation architect determine the following;
- The historical evolution of when the building was built, who owned the building over time, what changes have been effected to the building, what uses has the building been historically put and aesthetically what new materials/ modifications over time have been introduced?
- How intact is the building today? What changes have been effected to the building in terms of alterations/ extensions/ additions? Are these alterations sympathetic to the building’s significance i.e. can they be reversed or do they need to remain because of any deemed significance in their own right?
- What are the most significant aspects of the building and from there what is the priority of significance generally? These aspects are divided into categories of ‘exceptional significance’, ‘high significance’, ‘moderate significance’, ‘little significance’ and ‘intrusive fabric’ (to be removed from the building). Each element in the building needs to be categorised in accordance with this hierarchy i.e. the roof, the walls, the floors, the windows and doors, structural elements, landscaping, views and vistas, setting and curtilage etc.
- What are the proposed changes contemplated by the application? What new fabric is proposed to be introduced and what existing fabric is proposed to be removed? What original fabric is proposed to remain. This information needs to be clearly marked up on plan and elevation including the landscape elements.
- Finally, what is the impact of proposed works upon the fabric, setting and views of the building? These observations need to be collected into a conclusive statement in which reasons are provided for each observation. Once cannot simply state that there will be no impact. One has to justify reasons for coming to such a conclusion. Similarly, one needs to suggest to the owner/ applicant/ designer what could improve the scheme i.e. by softening impacts, perhaps changing materials, perhaps imposing less bulk and height, perhaps by reducing the extent of the modifications or increasing them depending upon the specific conditions of the site and the building.
All of the above considerations need to be factored into a Statement of Heritage Impact whether the building is individually listed as an item or whether the building is in a conservation area. Also, one needs to carry out a Statement of Heritage Impact for locally listed items as well as for State listed items and also for Commonwealth listed items too. It is always the same process irrespective of the status of the listing. However, if an item is state listed only, local government provisions will not apply. Yet, in many cases, one finds that the building is both locally and state listed.
Paul Rappoport - Heritage 21 - 2 March 2016
Images of NSW listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas;
Central Station – State listed item
Flinders Street, Taylor Square – locally listed on City of Sydney’s LEP