Your Guide to the Proposal to place a Heritage Overlay over Ashburton’s High Street
Recently a trip to Ashburton Drycleaners brought to my attention the intention of Boroondara Council to place a heritage overlay over the Ashburton High Street Shopping Precinct.
Boroondara Council are currently seeking feedback on the plan and it closes on 13 May.
Although I am registered for ‘Engage Boroondara’, the Council’s e-alert service on opportunities to ‘have your say about developments in your city’ nothing has come through about this consultation process. As you can see from the May edition of Boroondara Bulletin (pictured here), the project is not included with others currently open for consultation. Since we don’t have a community newspaper anymore, I’ve put together the following explainer to help you understand what the Council is proposing and why.
As you can see from the picture below, the Ashburton Village Traders Association is adamantly against it and were the authors of the petition at the drycleaners that brought this to my attention.
Who were the Heritage Consultants?
Boroondara Council engaged GJM Heritage to undertake the consultation process. They are an East Melbourne consulting firm who, according to their website, work predominantly in the south-eastern suburbs. Their directors are John Gard’ner, an architect with extensive heritage-related experience and Renae Jarman, a heritage specialist who worked for the City of Boroondara some years ago as the Senior Strategic Planner. Both have strong connections to Heritage Victoria.
The name of the actual person who prepared the report is not included on it.
What are the grounds for Heritage overlay?
In short, the report concludes that the Ashburton Shopping Precinct is ‘illustrative of the development of Ashburton in the Interwar and early Postwar periods’ and is ‘a visually cohesive and largely intact representative example of an Interwar and early Postwar commercial shopping strip that is uniform in scale, form and fabric.’
I’ve written extensively about Ashburton’s history on this blog so check out previous posts on that. The report covers this in great detail.
According to GJM Heritage, the shopping strip meets Criterion A and D of the Department of Planning and Community Development’s Practice Note 1: Applying the Heritage Overlay.
Criterion A is ‘importance to the course, or pattern of the City of Boroondara’s cultural or natural history (historical significance)’.
Criterion D is ‘importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural or natural places or environments (representativeness).
Are all the shops affected by it?
No, it is only most of the shops between Y Street and Marquis Street on both sides of High Street.
Which shops are affected then?
Due to the proposal of a significant number of shops being subject to heritage overlay rather than individual buildings, the report breaks them into blocks.
243-259 High Street: Ashburton Newsagency to Shape Real Estate.
The block of shops from 245 to 259 High Street, pictured here (in part), are believed to have been built by C G Ward (of Ward Street fame) between 1925-29. There are no construction dates or builder details in the records so the report is relying on photographs from the time.
243 High Street is believed to be the first shop built in the High Street.
The report states ‘these shops are representative of a simplified commercial architecture with some Arts and Craft influences.’
Arts and Crafts style was ‘concerned with integration of art into everyday life through the medium of craftsmanship.’ According to these people, Arts and Crafts houses in Australia featured ‘strong lines and some subtle gothic touches with a high level of attention to detail.’
269 – 271 High Street: R & R Skincare to Ashburton Drycleaners
These were built by unknown architects/builders around 1929. According to the report, they exhibit some ‘Egyptian Exotic Revival decorative motifs’.
The most prominent example of this style is at 3 Rochester Road, Canterbury.
It looks like this (courtesy of Belle Property):
The report notes it is the six windows on 269 that suggest this style of architecture.
194-162 High Street: From The Hive to Highgate Grove (excluding Oydis and John Adam Jewellers)
GJM Heritage believe the shops in this section were erected at various points by a variety of people during the late 1920s. It then goes on to describe the businesses that operated from these shops at the time. None of these are still in operation today.
During the 1930s, the section of shops with the peaked roofs that do not look like the rest of the block (currently housing Ashburton Jewellers) were built by R A Dixon and Sons in 1937. According to the report, the company worked on a number of high profile buildings around Melbourne at the time.
196 – 204 High Street: Ashburton Eyecare to e’Latte Cafe
These were constructed in 1938 in the Interwar Moderne architectural style. This is typified by the curved wall facing Lexia Street. It also notes the presence of the ‘Jazz Moderne’ soffit lining to the awnings.
In 1991, Bryce Raworth of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) produced a report – with a foreword by, of all people, Barry Humphries – on the need to preserve the interwar style of architecture for houses. This indicates the idea of preserving it is not new.
225-229 and 231-233 High Street: Nina’s Fresh Flowers to the Corner Deli
These were built by two different builders of no repute in 1937 and 1939 respectively. The report states that 225-229 High Street retains ‘typical elements of the Moderne architectural style’. The most significant example of this style of architecture in Melbourne is Mitchell House (below - picture courtesy of Peter Laurence) located on the corner of Lonsdale and Elizabeth Streets.
The report notes the Corner Deli shop front there today varied considerably from the original plans.
231-233 High Street are in a ‘restrained and simplified’ Georgian Revival architectural style.
This style is popular in Melbourne especially around Malvern and East Melbourne.
237 – 239 High Street: Chicken Central and Anne’s Pantry
These shops were also built in the late 1930s by an unknown builder probably commissioned by the original occupants.
255-257 High Street: Star Gift to Soma Day Spa
These shops were also built in 1934 by an unknown builder for the first owner, Miss G Moss.
273-281 High Street: Real Toys to Kiss with Style
The report only states that these shops were built around 1934. The shops retain some of their original features (not in any particular architecture style it seems) including some sliding sash windows but others have been replaced.
216 High Street: Silver Maple Boutique
This shop was built by Simmie and Co Pty Ltd in 1953. The report does not mention that they were a prolific builder all around Melbourne.
188-192 High Street: Oydis and John Adam Jeweller
Built by K Jellis of Brighton in 1954. These buildings exhibit no stylistic traits of any sort. They are not included in the heritage overlay proposal.
162-170 High Street: Amcal Pharmacy to Taylor Made
Built by R D Shields in 1957. These exhibit elements of Postwar Functionalist or Modernist architecture. This means exactly what you think: buildings designed solely for their purpose and function. They retain their original shopfronts.
172-176 High Street: Bakers Delight to former Freshly Baked
Built in 1950, this building ‘exhibits stylistic traits of the Interwar Moderne architecture style popular in the 1930s and early Postwar Functionalism.’ Very little modification has been made to the original building or shopfronts.
261-267 High Street: Vintage Cellars to Fletcher Jones
These were built in the 1980s so do not have any historical significance yet.
Are there other shopping precincts in Boroondara subject to heritage overlay?
Yes. Quite a few.
According to the Victorian Heritage Database, the following precincts in Boroondara are subject to it:
1333-1363 Burke Road Commercial Precinct in Kew and 1046-1060 Burke Road in Balwyn. These are in the Spanish Mission architectural style and Interwar Art Deco style respectively.
The South Camberwell Commercial Precinct between Peate Avenue and Hillside Parade for being a ‘fine example of an isolated inter war shopping strip’ in a selection of different styles.
The Canterbury Road Commercial Precinct at 84-114A Canterbury Road. 84-98 were constructed by James F Wrigley, a major local commercial property owner. 92-98 are in the Spanish Mission style.
Harp Village Commercial Precinct around High Street, East Kew. The shops are representative of the interwar settlement and suburb development of East Kew between 1920 and 1940.
Cotham Village Commercial Precinct around Glenferrie Road and Cotham Road. All the shops were built between 1920 and 1940 and ‘represent a major development phase in the history of Kew.’
Riversdale Village Precinct around Auburn and Riversdale Roads in Hawthorn. It has a variety of architectural design and is representative of the ‘establishment and consolidation of one of Hawthorn’s commercial and retail centres’.
Glenferrie Road Commercial Precinct, 633-763 and 628-808 Glenferrie Road. It is considered the centre of Hawthorn and demonstrations the influence of the railway and tramway in encouraging development of commercial centres.
5. Union Road Commercial Precinct, Surrey Hills. Registered for being a commercial/retail area since the 1880s and well-established by the interwar period.
6. Burwood Road Heritage Precinct, 388-444 and 481-497 Burwood Road, Hawthorn. The Precinct demonstrates the pattern of development influenced by the choice of location of key civic facilities starting in 1861 and by the extension of the railway through the area in 1882.
What does it mean for shops to be placed under heritage overlay?
According to the Council’s Heritage Overlay Fact Sheet, it means you need to ask for and be granted Council permission to make any modifications to the building including:
Demolish or remove a building
Construct a building or construct or carry out works
Construct or display a sign
Externally paint an unpainted surface
Internally alter a building
Carry out works, repairs and routine maintenance which changes the appearance of the heritage place.
How long it takes to get a permit is anyone’s guess.
Is Ashburton subject to much heritage overlay?
In comparison to the rest of Boroondara, no. It barely rates a mention. In short, over 15,000 buildings in Boroondara have some kind of heritage overlay and only 10 of these are in Ashburton. These include Ashburton Primary School and the local churches.
Where can I submit feedback on the heritage proposal?
This must be done in writing through either the Council’s online form or email address.
The Council also provides some information on how to give feedback at this link.
Feedback is due by 13 May 2023.