Local man’s bid to save a piece of history

Local man’s bid to save a piece of history

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Ian Lewis outside the original site of Jarrahdale’s Roman Catholic Chapel on Atkins Street.

A passionate local historian has unveiled plans to halt the sale of the original site of Jarrahdale’s Roman Catholic Chapel in a bid to preserve a vital piece of the town’s history.

Historian and author Ian Lewis said he held grave concerns about the preservation of the site, which was home to the Roman Catholic St James Chapel during the late 1880s, a building later replaced by the New St Maria Goretti church in the 1950s.

An affinity for all things history isn’t the only thing tying Mr Lewis to the 6000 square-metre block on Atkins Street, which was donated to the Catholic Church by his great, great grandfather in 1883.

A spokesperson from the state’s Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage told Examiner Newspapers that the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth had advised that the land was no longer required and that it be returned to the state, with the department subsequently deeming sale to the market appropriate.

It is understood prospective buyers will be required to enter into a Conservation Management Plan to safeguard the building while allowing adaptive reuse of the municipal heritage listed building located on site, but Mr Lewis said he believed the church presented a unique heritage and tourism opportunity.

“Losing any part of our history is not favourable for future generations,” he said.

“I’m concerned about the future of the building and I’d like to see the sale stopped until such time as there has been a review of the heritage significance of the site and there is a defined usage for that particular building.

“I don’t believe you should be able to sell the building until you have outlined what you’re going to do with it.

“This site was gifted by my family for a specific purpose, and I would like to see it become a heritage building.

“I’ve always wanted to promote the heritage of Jarrahdale, and this is a prime example.”

Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale president Michelle Rich confirmed that the shire had provided information to the department regarding Jarrahdale being recognised under the planning framework as having important heritage and character values.

“The planning framework sets protection of heritage and character as an important planning objective for this area,” she said.

“The shire would ensure any prospective purchaser is aware of the planning framework.”

It is understood that no expressions of interest have been received to date, nor has the shire received any development applications to make alterations to the property.