Heritage house ‘double standards'

OWNERS of heritage houses in the Clarence Valley are outraged at council's double standard when it comes to home renovation.

Council has allowed numerous developments for the Grafton Regional Gallery in Fitzroy Street, while residents in the same street have been denied similar permission.

Developments to the gallery include a roller door on the front of the building and the interior cedar wood being painted over, neither of which comply with heritage standards.

In May, Clarence Valley Council sent out letters to residents whose homes are considered to possess heritage value, and are included on the Local Environmental Plan Heritage Schedule.

Merrick McCallum received the letter in regard to his Fitzroy Street, Grafton, home, which was completed in 1890 by Alexander Fairweather, who also built the gallery building.

The letter outlined what he could and could not do to his property, with more than 50 changes requiring approval.

“I feel the whole heritage thing is mismanaged,” Mr McCallum said.

“There is a definite double standard.”

Mr McCallum, who has owned the house for 26 years, is in favour of preserving the local heritage but said council needed to set an example.

“It's terrible, they have broken every heritage law under the sun,” he said.

“Using roller doors and painting over cedar, it's not right.

“It looks terrible.”

Mr McCallum said although heritage home owners were offered $5000 in grants for maintenance, he would like to see a rebate in rates instead.

“According to the council I have no obligation to maintain this home,” he said.

“It's fine if I let the house rot and turn to dust, but I can't do any outside renovations to improve it.

“It really is a shame.”

All alterations to the home require written council consent and must comply with strict regulations.

Mr McCallum wrote to council requesting his property be exempt from the register, but is still awaiting a reply.

Clarence Valley Council was contacted numerous times for comment, with no reply.

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