IN a growing city heritage values often have to be fought for and recognising the contribution that residents and business owners make to preserving important buildings is one way of doing that.
In recent weeks Orange City Council has copped plenty of criticism for planning decisions which have allowed subdivisions in conservation areas and additions such as garages which opponents claim degrade important streetscapes.
The merits and legality of some of these decisions are still being contested but what cannot be disputed is the city’s support for individuals who have seen the heritage value in their properties and sought to preserve it.
In many cases a heritage restoration is a far more expensive exercise than a straightforward renovation and may incur costs the owner never totally recoups if the property is sold.
But profit is seldom the motivation of people who embark on their own “grand design”.
These projects are labours of love carried out by people who see the intrinsic value of cultural heritage. If the project makes the property more valuable that is simply a bonus.
This year’s winners include home owners who have stripped away unsympathetic additions, replaced missing verandahs with replicas of the originals and given tired commercial buildings a new lease of life.
With the ceremonies complete few will know the effort and expense which went into the restoration work but many will drive past these properties and notice how well these preserved buildings sit in their neighbourhoods.
It is not good luck which preserves buildings, streetscapes and entire precincts in historic areas, it is enthusiastic owners supported by a sympathetic council and, at times, a watchful community determined not to lose a collective community asset, which is what our heritage is.