Heritage home divides Bendigo councillors

PRESERVED: The property that councillors saved from demolition. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

PRESERVED: The property that councillors saved from demolition. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

A FORMER housing commission building in Long Gully has been saved from demolition on heritage grounds - however three councillors believe the house is far from valuable. 

The majority of councillors voted to protect the Bennett Street property from demolition and subdivision, following a lengthy study which found heritage value at the site. 

A heritage overlay was placed on the property as a result of the report. 

The owner's application to demolish the building and build three dwellings on the site was rejected this week. 

A council report said the property formed part of a wider residential precinct and was part of an intact row of early commission houses facing Bennett Street.

“Style in the wider area is characterised by single-storey, detached dwellings, generally constructed from lightweight cladding materials and feature hip and gable roofs,” the report said.

Cr Rod Campbell said while the building might be modest, it had a story to tell. 

"This kind of heritage challenges normal thinking," he said. 

"It challenges our understanding of the retention of heritage and how desperate we are for development in Bendigo. But this building tells of the mining history in Bendigo and has a narrative worth saving."

Cr Peter Cox said the site had been studied and found it was worth preserving. 

"You don't put three years of hard work into something and then ignore the results," he said. 

"This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put a heritage overlay on that type of building - we asked the minister to do it and we can't now go against that previous decision."

However Crs Helen Leach, Elise Chapman and Lisa Ruffell argued against retention, with Cr Ruffell questioning why "anyone would want to save it from demolition".  

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