Adelong’s Masonic Lodge has retained it’s draft heritage listing after Tumut Shire Council rejected the owner’s request to remove it from the listing.
The building was first built in 1911 and acted officially as headquarters for local masons until its sale last year to George and Rose Marie Likow.
Council has upheld its heritage status with Councillor Geoff Pritchard saying the heritage listing is not overly restrictive and important to the town; saying removing heritage status on a whim makes a farce of the classification.
“What’s the point of having heritage protection if it can be got rid of willy nilly?” Clr Pritchard said.
“Heritage requirements are not as tight as you first think, generally you can do what you like indoors and outside you must comply with the building type but it’s not extremely rigid.”
However the owners of the Masonic Lodge have accused council of restricting progress in the town, saying all they have encountered in their dealings with council is red tape.
The pair claim the building’s two previous renovations in 1938 and 2000 have voided its status as a heritage build.
The Likow’s claim the building was originally a one storey structure, with 1938 renovations adding a second floor and the 2000 revamp extending the first storey building.
Ms Likow says the building is subject to two draft heritage listings, a fact they were not aware of when purchasing the property due to their ‘draft’ status.
“Firstly it’s a part of the heritage draft street scape throughout Adelong, we have no objection to that, so all the front heritage of the street is protected. On top of that they want our building heritage listed itself,” she said.
“It presents a whole lot of issues, even with colours you’re able to use. It’s had two lots of previous renovations so I don’t know how they can turn around and say it’s heritage. It doesn’t make sense.”
Ms Likow says council’s decision is just the latest in a long line of bureaucratic choices she believes are restricting the development of Adelong.
“Council makes it very difficult for anything to happen in Adelong,” she said.
“Originally we were going to convert it to a coffee shop, but there were so many council requirements it just wasn’t viable, so we decided to revert it to a house with a two bedroom unit out the back as a second dwelling. But that’s on hold because the council fees are just too much. We were looking at close to $15,000 in fees for a $40,000 build.”
“They’re restricting progress, I know other people in town under the same listing who aren’t pleased but people find it so hard to deal with council they just don’t bother. The real trouble will come when they try and sell because no one will touch a heritage place.
Ms Likow said she was very disappointed Tumut councillors made the decision without visiting the property for any reference.
“It’s been clear from the beginning council always makes the last decision. No matter what you sat or do they hold the power,” she said.
“They don’t care about improving the area or the financial drawback their decisions may have on people or the area as a whole, it’s about what they want.”
“They say it’s significant because it was a Masonic Lodge but unless you come into the building and look at the plaque inside no one even knows, I’ve had many people ask what the building use to be. Council didn’t even come and look, they just made the decision.”
The building has been on a draft listing for heritage status since 2012.
In discussion Tumut Councillors were split on the issue.
Cr Margaret Isselmann was one who called it a “stretch” to consider the building had heritage value, and Cr Trina Thomson said the council should not be unnecessarily restricting development.
But Crs Pritchard and Stevenson thought the building had some significance, and the director of development and environment, Paul Mullins, said listing the building was not necessarily an impediment to development.
“All it means is that special consideration is given to its heritage value when works are proposed,” Mr Mullins said. “Being heritage listed can also open up the opportunity for grants.
When put to the vote, councillors ultimately voted 4-3 to retain the building on the heritage listing.