Demolition of heritage-listed building gets the green light

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
The heritage-listed building on Flores Road, Webberton, will be demolished.
Camera IconThe heritage-listed building on Flores Road, Webberton, will be demolished. Credit: Geraldton Guardian, Francesca Mann

A heritage-listed building on Flores Road in Webberton will be demolished.

City of Greater Geraldton councillors approved the demolition of the brick-and-iron building at last month’s ordinary council meeting.

The house, dating back to the early 1930s, sits on the same block of land as Sun City Solar, which operates from a warehouse behind the building.

Despite attempts at restoration, the building has deteriorated badly due to “insufficient quality” of its original building materials.

According to council briefing notes, walls have cracked and started to collapse, window and doorway openings are showing signs of bowing, and sections of the ceiling have collapsed.

The building is listed on the council’s Municipal Inventory of Heritage Places as a management category four building, where conservation is desirable.

But the council’s heritage adviser has supported the demolition, noting the building is not within a heritage area or special control area, and isn’t part of a “consistent character streetscape”.

A structural engineering report conducted by Engineering Online Australia suggests there is “no reason” why the building should be preserved as it is in “poor condition”.

Cr Lewis Freer made the motion and requested that the building be recorded for historical archives.

“It’s not the best to see heritage buildings getting pulled down,” he said.

“But considering the condition and the new works it’ll bring, it’s pretty straightforward to support it.

“The building is not in any condition to be salvaged and it will be a much better improvement to the whole area.”

The landowner, Scott Phillips, has suggested the flooring and features, such as ceiling roses and vent covers, could be salvaged and reused.

The applicant has said the demolition of the building will improve access and car parking at Sun City Solar.

Cr Michael Reymond voted against the motion, noting he was “against any loss of heritage” in the city.

“I know it’s deteriorating and not in an ideal heritage area but we shouldn’t be allowing our heritage to disappear under the hammer because it’s a bit run down,” he said.

“We haven’t been given (information) as to how much it would cost to restore, or given the opportunity for a facade to be erected in the front.

“A carpark to me is not improving the area at all ... and the owner should have recognised they had a heritage place to start with.

“It’s very disappointing to demolish any heritage-listed building ... this sets a bad precedent.”

Built for the Rowe family, the house was part of a big market garden, which became the site of the Jubilee Poultry Farm in 1950.

From 1976-2000, it was part of a lawnmower business, followed by a stint as Shelley’s Barbershop until 2005. The property was bought by Mr Phillips in 2006 and used as a caretaker’s residence and shop front for Sun City Solar until it was abandoned in 2011.

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