Fire could be the last straw

First appeared in The Moorabool News, September 9 2017

A 145-year-old house could be one step closer to meeting the wrecking ball following a blaze that swept through the property last week.

Webster Brothers Yard in Graham Street, Bacchus Marsh caught fire on Wednesday evening (September 6).

Bacchus Marsh Fire Brigade Captain, Phil Clayton said eight crews from Bacchus Marsh, Melton, Myrniong and Ballarat City attended the dwelling, which was well alight and with all rooms impacted by the fire.

“Our main concern was the condition of the structure as the house has been derelict for some time,” he said.

The brick building was erected in 1872 and is a rare surviving example of a Victorian gothic style cottage. It is protected by Moorabool Shire Council’s Heritage Overlay, meaning any changes to the property, including demolition, require a planning permit.

In December last year, community advocate for the National Trust of Australia, Caitlin Mitropoulo described the state of the old building as “demolition by neglect”.

The term refers to a situation where property owners who want to demolish a building, but know they will not get permission, let it fall into a dire state so it cannot be salvaged, and owners therefore have a better argument to demolish it in the future.

The Moorabool News is of the understanding that the owner of Webster Brothers Yard was issued a notice by Moorabool Shire Council to improve the standards of the building prior to the fire.

When asked about the notice, a spokesperson for Council said due to privacy obligations, they were unable to reveal any notices issued to the owner.

In reference to the fire, Moorabool Shire Council CEO Rob Croxford said council were attempting to make contact with the owner of the property in order to determine the appropriate next steps.


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