CHRISTMAS ISLAND’S HERITAGE
Heritage is something that we have inherited from the past and something that is valued enough today to leave for future generations.
Heritage can incorporate both the tangible and intangible and is present in many forms including landscapes, landmarks, places, buildings, objects, languages, customs and ceremonies.
National Trust of Western Australia
To find out if there are any heritage considerations for your property, there are several places to check. The Commonwealth Heritage List includes places which are Commonwealth-owned that demonstrate significant heritage value. However, some of these precincts include places which may be the responsibility of private or community groups and individuals. This information can be accessed via https://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/commonwealth-heritage-list
The Register of the National Estate is an archive of information on heritage places in Australia and its external territories. This online database has no legal basis since this was removed from the relevant legislation (the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act) in 2012. It now functions as an archive only but is a valuable resource as it provides historical information and explains why a place is significant., it can be accessed here https://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/register-national-estate
The Godden Mackay Logan report, Christmas Island: Heritage Review, DCPs and Development Guidelines (Vol 3) provides a comprehensive inventory of heritage places on Christmas Island as well as design guidelines which provide advice on modifying heritage places (Note: This report provides excellent information however as it was prepared in 1998, some material is out of date and requires review). This document can be accessed by contacting the Indian Ocean Territories Administation.
APPROVALS FOR ALTERATIONS OR CHANGE OF USE
The Shire of Christmas Island is the organisation responsible for approving developments on Christmas Island. If your property has recognised heritage value, there may need to be further consideration given to the impact of your proposed works or changed use on the heritage significance of the place.
The Shire may require a heritage report such as a Heritage Impact Statement to support development applications. The purpose of this report is to assess the impact of works on the significance of a place and if necessary make recommendations to lessen these impacts.
If the changes are significance and the place is included on the Commonwealth Heritage List, a Conservation Management Plan may be required. This is a comprehensive document which explains what is significant about a place with policies and advice to assist in conservation and ongoing management.
If your proposal is approved, you may need to provide an archival recording. This is simply a photographic record of the heritage places prior to works occurring so the changes being made are documented and are able to reversed if required in future.
It is advisable to speak to the Shire prior to submitting development applications or undertaking any works so your responsibilities are clear.
BASIC HERITAGE GUIDELINES
Do you understand why your building is considered heritage? All heritage places demonstrate some value, for example historical value (first building constructed in a particular area or associated with a well-known person), aesthetic or architectural value, social value (is important to a particular group for cultural or spiritual reasons) and scientific value (importance for contributing information or for technical achievement). By understanding why a place is considered to have heritage significance, it’s then possible to manage change to protect this significance.
Heritage is not about keeping places as they are; the aim is to manage these alterations sensitively. The Burra Charter is the main guiding set of principles for managing heritage places and can be accessed here
There are some simple principles which can be followed:
- Do as much as necessary and little as possible
- Retain as much original fabric as possible
- Replace ‘like for like’; if there is timber joinery in your home, continue using timber rather than aluminium or another material
- Repair rather than replace; refurbishing an original window that is rusting but still operable rather than replacing with a new aluminium frame is preferable
- Additions should be secondary to main building and reflect (but not copy) the existing style and form
- New works such as additions should be identifiable as such; this means that you should still be able to tell what is original and significant fabric and what is a later addition.
- Modifications should be reversible or able to be removed or rectified
- Regular maintenance should be undertaken to avoid expensive repairs later, for instance treating rust as soon as it occurs will prevent more serious damage; making sure guttering is cleared to avoid water damage; keeping vegetation under control etc.
- If unsure, seek advice. There are online guides available freely to download from various state heritage agencies and local governments in Australia, otherwise contact a heritage specialist.
Shire of Christmas Island https://www.shire.gov.cx/
Indian Ocean Territories Administration http://regional.gov.au/territories/christmas/index.aspx
All information contained in this general guide has been provided in good faith with current resources and best practice. This information should be considered general only; specific queries or concerns should be directed to the Shire of Christmas Island or the Indian Ocean Territories Administration.