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Heritage in Hawthorn

Updated: Apr 21, 2022


Residents of Hawthorn and Glenferrie surrounds were among the “first pioneers of heritage protection in Melbourne in the 1970s” explains Christina Branagan, a convener of Boroondara Heritage Group for Advocacy and Protection (BHGAP).

In 1976, the former Commercial Bank (1892) on the corner of Glenferrie and Burwood Roads, now The Kilburn (348 Burwood Road), was successfully protected. A result of the action of residents, renowned local architects and the Hawthorn Historical Society who at the time fought to protect buildings around Hawthorn that were earmarked for demolition. BHGAP explains that heritage “helps us understand who we are, where we came from, [and] connects us to the places we live around and in”. Due to Hawthorn’s proximity to the city and nearby amenities, there is constant pressure to develop the valuable land. Homes and commercial buildings often obtain heritage overlay protection due to community action, like that of the BHGAP.

Heritage overlay is a planning control that ensures any development does not adversely affect the significance of a heritage place or precinct and either prohibits certain development or requires planning permits to be approved by a local council’s Urban Planning Special Committee (UPSC). The process of implementing a heritage overlay begins with a local council conducting a heritage study. The study is overseen by a heritage consultant who determines the significance of sites and/or precincts. A site may be significant because it preserves the desired aesthetics of an area or it may have been part of a historical event or purpose. This study is taken to the UPSC to consider. If the study is adopted, the lengthy process then begins to amend the existing planning scheme to include a heritage overlay based on the study. Through the various stages, residents can provide feedback and submissions in relation to the study and the proposed amendment to the planning scheme, which is ultimately approved by the State Minister of Planning.

Hawthorn has a wide range of heritage buildings and homes from the 1800s through to the 1960s, but is probably most famous for its Victorian and Edwardian architecture (1870 – 1910). The recent Hawthorn Heritage Gap Study recommended a number of heritage sites and precincts have a heritage overlay to protect them permanently in the planning scheme. Boroondara Council commenced the process of the study in 2016 and the resulting planning amendment, Amendment C284 Part 1, came into effect 12 March 2021. Once a property is protected by a heritage overlay, buildings can still be altered to some extent and rear extensions added. BHGAP explains that “generally, it is the view of the property as seen from the street that is protected” with the intention of maintaining the look of the streetscape.

The BHGAP and residents are now working to protect over 50 heritage homes in Wattle Road, off Glenferrie Road. Wattle Road was once known as German Paddock and then Weinberg Lane until WW2 and the area featured farms, wineries, and market gardens. Presently, only five homes on Wattle Road are protected by a heritage overlay and for BHGAP, “the need for change and development is understood and that of density” but they believe protecting some of these classic homes is vital to protect this part of Hawthorn’s history.

Hawthorn holds a significant percentage of all the heritage architecture in Melbourne and as such is a very important place that “we, the local community and businesses, are the guardians of for future generations” says BHGAP. For further information and current initiatives contact



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