The City of Sydney has 75 nature reserves and a total of 2309 listed properties. The Inner West Council has 107 nature reserves and a total of 1785 listed properties.
Ku-ring-gai has 52 nature reserves covering more than 3,939 properties – or about 10 percent of all properties – within the municipal area and a total of 987 cultural properties.
There may be more houses than the total number of entries, as an entry can contain groups of up to 44 houses.
While the City of Ryde only has 161 privately owned historic properties, it offers the largest amount of cash grants – up to $15,000 – to help homeowners maintain their homes. Your funding is capped at a total of $500,000 per year.
According to the council’s website, Ku-ring-gai grants homeowners between $1,000 and $5,000 in grant funding and spends about $52,000 in 2021.
Liverpool and Fairfield City Councils have fewer than 50 listed houses and no listed areas at all. Neither does the Blacktown City Council.
dr Cameron Logan, associate professor of architecture, design and planning at the University of Sydney, said there are unfair results in the preservation of historic homes in Sydney.
“There are major injustices in the system. Heritage is surrounded by property, so interest in property and power is expressed in part through heritage’s systems, as are other aspects of the land-use planning system,” Logan said. “In many ways it is an intended consequence.
“What initially seems like a barrier to building wealth in your property, the fact that you can’t build six homes becomes a mechanism for building wealth in an area distinguished by its cultural quality.”
Logan said the legacy value, which is often a constraint for an individual homeowner who could otherwise make more money through renovation, can become an economic value for a group of suburban homeowners.
“To a certain extent, this cultural capital can be converted into actual capital. It is based on age and shared flavor value. [The properties and the areas] have acquired this value over time based on what people thought of community-based politics.”
He said the city may not have struck the right balance between protecting heritage and providing fairer housing and neighborhoods.
“There are difficult trade-offs between protecting these [heritage] qualities, including at the landscape level, and achieving equitable, affordable development and new housing opportunities.”
Logan said while zoning of single-family homes was by far the biggest factor in preventing more homes from being built in Sydney, well-resourced action groups and residents’ councils were also preventing change by heritage listing in the same areas, he said.
“This has become what critics would call NIMBYism – not focused on heritage per se, but preventing change, including heritage to prevent development, and so these areas look more like heritage.”
UNSW Professor of Design and Architecture Robert Freestone said while the geography of monument entries in Sydney is diverse, there is a clear contrast between the inner and outer suburbs.
“There is a broad correlation with socioeconomic status, with evidence of what Greater Cities Commissioner Geoff Roberts has dubbed the ‘latte line,’ where wealth is linked to heritage protection,” Freestone said.
He said there were a number of factors that led to a higher concentration of Sydney heritage inventories in more affluent parts of the city, including early associations between heritage and colonial history, the aristocratic connections of the early conservation movement such as the National Trust, which in the US emerged from the Ku-ring-gai Tree Lovers Civic League in the 1940s and an enduring prejudice against “outer suburban vulgarity.”
dr Awais Piracha, associate professor of geography, tourism and planning at Western Sydney University, said the concentration of historic homes in the city has allowed some suburbs to remain untouched while others have shouldered the burden of new residential destinations.
“The West, where most housing goes, is becoming almost slum-like. The kind of thing that we see in places like Paris, where there’s all these upscale areas, and then there’s all the areas that are slum-like,” Piracha said.
Wealthy parts of Sydney are preserving their heritage to avoid changing character, but that comes at a cost to other Sydneysiders, he said.
“Take care of them [heritage] Features among other features make the area very attractive, very low density, close to amenities. That’s a very desirable mix for property owners, but it may not be the best for the city as a whole,” Piracha said.
“If heritage is so important, why is it only important in the east or north?
“The West has lost a lot of listed properties that would have been priceless. The planning system is applied unequally between East and North and West.”
A spokesman for Ku-ring-gai City Council said the municipality has a long history of advocating for the preservation of the built and natural environment, and its grants are an incentive to help owners conserve, protect or enhance significant features of to support listed properties.
A spokesman for the City of Sydney said the history and culture of the New South Wales capital spanned the Colonial, Victorian and Federation periods into the 21st century, eras reflected in local buildings that contribute to the city’s quality of life, environment and economy contribute. They added that these are some of the most dense suburbs in Sydney.
A Fairfield City Council spokesman said the small number of cultural properties in the area is a result of the West’s later development compared to other places.
A Blacktown City Council spokesman said they have no listed areas “because there are no areas in the city that warrant the creation of a listed area.”
Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM said his council owned historic landmarks including St Bartholomew’s Church, Minchinbury Wine Estate and the Royal Cricketers Arms Hotel.
A spokesman for Sutherland Shire Council said that in contrast to inner-city councils and historic regional centers, widespread suburban development in the area did not pick up steam until the 1940s.
“There are no neighborhoods of Victorian or Federal houses in the Sutherland Shire to which the designation of protected zones could normally be applied collectively,” the spokesman said.
Homeowner Grants of up to $5,000 are provided to Sutherland homeowners in recognition that “owners of historic properties often face extraordinary maintenance costs due to the need for specialized skills and materials to restore and maintain the original substance.” .