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New commentary on The Fifth Estate on the conflict between housing densification and heritage preservation, by Dorina Pojani

By the mid-2000s, all Australian states and territories had adopted some type of heritage legislation, with the Burra Charter serving as the model for most. In most localities, the public now demands that local authorities consider the existing character of a neighbourhood when issuing development permits.

Nearly twenty years later, Australia’s housing crisis is assuming catastrophic dimensions. We sorely need to build more housing, both public and private, to get us out of it. Given the other ongoing crisis (climate emergency), new housing needs to be dense and vertical rather than sprawl horizontally as the Australian Dream dictates.

But a quest for compact, infill housing goes against historic preservation mandates because, in urban Australia, historic buildings aren’t castles and palaces. Most come in the form of single-family houses – ranging from humble Queenslander cottages to Victorian Italianate mansions. Tall apartment towers can dwarf those.

Can the conflicting needs of housing densification and heritage preservation be reconciled? Read Dorina Pojani’s commentary on The Fifth Estate: