Subdividing heritage conservation areas to maximise land value

Amidst the multigenerational living movement and subdivision of land, we have been working with our North Shore and Northern Beaches clients to subdivide their land to maximise land value.

During the subdivision process, necessary considerations must be taken into account.

We’ve covered the environmental factors that affect land subdivision so let’s unpack subdividing heritage conservation areas.

Heritage conservation areas

A heritage conservation area (HCA) is described by the Northern Sydney Ku-ring-gai Council’s website as an area recognised and valued for its historic and aesthetic character. Important elements contributing to an HCA’s heritage significance include the architectural style of buildings, fences, trees and gardens.

Developing or subdividing an HCA property necessitates strict compliance with council’s approval requirements. In fact, this section of the Development Control Plan says that applications for subdivision and site consolidation within an HCA are discouraged.

Steps to take for an HCA subdivision project

The results of a heritage conservation property subdivision can be magnificent, especially when considering the North Shore and Northern Beaches backdrop, but there are delicate steps we take when planning to subdivide an HCA property.

Step 1 | Heritage Consultant

The very first step we take when approaching an HCA subdivision project is to commission an independent heritage consultant. Heritage consultants are specialists. Their teams comprise archaeologists, built heritage and community experts, historians and stakeholders from within an area’s government and industry sectors.

Step 2 | Research

Our team from Playoust Churcher, together with the heritage consultant, undertakes a significant amount of research about not only the property itself but the properties that surround it too. We identify the street patterns, area layout and house rhythms from the surroundings.

Step 3 | Site visit

Much like the environmental process, we will then visit the property. During this step, we analyse the property layout. We need to discern how many buildings and features are on the property and determine whether any of them are listed on the site heritage inventory. A physical inspection also helps us gain insights that would be impossible to extract from a digital map or property plan.

Step 4 | Heritage Conservation Assessment

At this step of the process, our team, together with the heritage consultant, responds to the following property requirements listed by the Development Control Plan to ensure that the subdivision:

  • will have no adverse effect on the significance of the HCA
  • retains the typical block width characteristics and historic subdivision pattern of the area, including rear lanes
  • retains the setting and curtilage of heritage items or significant buildings in the vicinity, including important structures and landscape elements
  • does not interrupt or obscure vistas and views to and from heritage items and contributory properties, especially the principal elevations of buildings
  • retains the landscape quality of the streetscape
  • retains and respects the contours and any natural features of the site
  • will not result in future development that will adversely affect the significance, character or appearance of the HCA
  • will affect or compromise the setting or curtilage of any heritage items and contributory properties within or adjoining the site
  • will undergo a curtilage assessment.

Step 5 | ‘Controlled’ design

At this stage, the design process begins. We use the information gathered from the research and site visit and overlay this information with the controls the Development Control Plan stipulates.

Aside from the street patterns and characteristic rhythm of the area, our design must ensure that:

  • we preserve any heritage items
  • we consider and sensitively incorporate the curtilage, architecture of the buildings, structures and garden setting that contribute to the significance of the heritage item into the subdivision proposal
  • new developments are broken down to minimise the dominance over any heritage items
  • any front setback of new developments is greater than that of the heritage item.

Step 6 | Subdivision feasibility and cost analysis

As we’re sure you have gathered, subdividing an HCA is a tricky and time-consuming exercise, requiring expert analysis. Based on our findings, we develop a feasibility study and cost analysis.

Achieving a heritage subdivision can be advantageous, but it is crucial to understand the nuances associated with heritage conservation areas. Our team understands subdivision and how to maximise land value, so if you are considering subdividing your North Shore or Northern Beaches heritage conservation property, we urge you to contact us.

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Killara NSW 2071

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