Heritage 101 Workshop

(6.30pm, Thursday 16 May 2013, Barnet Long Room, Customs House)

Thank you, Adam [Ford, MC], and hello, everyone. Welcome to our workshop. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

I also offer a warm welcome to our panel for this evening: two respected heritage architects - Peter Phillips and Otto Cserhalmi and of course to builder Gary Waller whose firm has a long history of working on heritage buildings.

I also welcome our own heritage specialists from the City who are here this evening, and I most especially welcome you, our audience, who've come to get some insight into dealing with heritage properties, and with their associated restoration and conservation issues.

Last year, the City ran a series of 2030 in Your Village consultations, discussing a wide range of matters with local residents and businesses. It became clear from these that while people love their local neighbourhoods and cherish the special character of each, they were often uncertain about how to approach issues around renovation and restoration.

It can seem a baffling world to lay-people, especially as the specialists tend - like specialists anywhere - to slip into their own language. I'm reliably informed that jargon and acronyms are banned for this evening!

We hope the workshop will clarify some of your questions and hopefully give all of you a renewed appreciation for Sydney's heritage.

I believe we should proudly cherish and protect what is unique about our City and our neighbourhoods. The City of Sydney itself is custodian of some of our finest heritage buildings, and we see it as a trust to preserve them so that they can shine as significant landmarks and also continue to be used and useful well into the future.

Our continuing work on Sydney Town Hall and the recently completed work at Glebe Town Hall ensures they will continue as much-loved civic and community centres; our conversion of the old Burton Street Tabernacle in Darlinghurst as the Eternity Playhouse provides a new life for that wonderful old building and our work at Paddington Reservoir Gardens transformed a near-derelict piece of old Sydney infrastructure into a beautiful, multi-award winning public open space.

These restorations win major State, national and even international awards because we are serious about seeking the best advice from heritage experts, we're serious about seeking out quality crafts- and trades-people with the skills to carry out the work as it should be done.

I like to think in the process that we're helping to keep some of those skills alive, as well as fostering civic pride in the heritage of our City.

These buildings are some of its great set-pieces but our City villages are also one of Sydney's great assets, whether it's the beautifully restored terraces of Paddington, the handsome apartments of Potts Point, or the wonderful Aussie backyard corrugated iron shed that's been painstakingly restored in Zamia Street Redfern.

As much as the important civic buildings, these private buildings are also markers of our identity, they give us our sense of place, they say "This is Sydney". They are living parts of our City - indeed, some of the liveliest parts - and we don't want them preserved in aspic.

We want them used, and loved and lived in, and we want them to continue to tell Sydney's story. You can make sure they do that, and we will help you wherever we can.

While we clearly cannot use City funds for this, we do have a great deal of in-house expertise and we offer free advice, whether it's at the buying stage or the development application stage. That is a terrific resource for home-owners.

And we also offer workshops like this one to bring you the best heritage advice. I hope you will find it useful, and once again I thank Adam, Peter, Otto and Gary for contributing their skills and knowledge tonight.

Thank you all for coming.