A Sebastopol land owner is relieved that a heritage overlay applied to a row of houses in Albert Street is under consideration for abandonment by Ballarat City Council.
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Denise Knight and her son Adrian bought two of the homes at 12 to 20 Albert Street in 2006 and 2004 respectively as investment properties. The houses were constructed in 1927 as a series of homes for the two-time mayor of Sebastopol Evan Jenkins. She says at the time of purchase there was no mention of a heritage overlay of any sort, and that they fully expected to be allowed to develop the sites as the houses are in what is now essentially a shopping precinct.
Ms Knight said that the houses she and her son own were under contract of sale for a combined total of $775,000, on the provision that the houses had the option of removal. She said a similar block of homes diagonally opposite were sold for $500,000 each for the redevelopment of the Aldi shopping centre.
The putative buyers had gone to council several times with a number of proposals attempting to accommodate the heritage concerns, but were unable to convince council officers at the time, said Ms Knight. One proposal was for a childcare centre, but Ms Knight says the developers were willing to give council any concessions they required.
She says the houses may look fine from the outside, but are actually in a state of disrepair and need tens of thousands of dollars of repairs. The floors have fallen through and in places were only held together by carpet, and the foundations had sunk. The collapse of the contract of sale had cost her thousands in itself, said Ms Knight.
Despite the council releasing a report that says in part that the “Jenkins Row” is “of local historical and aesthetic significance to the township of Sebastopol and the City of Ballarat”, Ms Knight received a letter on Friday advising that council would “no longer pursue the Heritage Overlay on the Jenkins Row Heritage Precinct”, pending an independent Planning Panel hearing.
For Denise Knight, it’s hopefully the end to a stressful period. Having been recently unwell, her hope is to sell the property and concentrate on her recovery.
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