Historic kilns decision has Belmont abuzz

The Ascot kilns have received a permanent heritage listing from the state government and local residents say although it’s a positive step forward, they will continue to fight for the correct preservation of the historic buildings.

The Bristile kilns were built on Grandstand Road in Ascot between 1929 and 1950, on the site of Western Australia’s first pottery works and believed to be the last beehive kilns in the southern hemisphere.

Ascot Kilns and Parry Field Action Group’s spokeswomen Sharren Holt says the heritage listing helps protect the future of the kilns.

“We see it as a positive,” Mrs Holt says.

“We believe that the state government will no longer be able to just leave it sitting there and we’re hoping that it means there will be some action as far as the repair and restoration.”

Belmont deputy mayor George Sekulla says restoring the kilns is important to preserve history on a state level.

“Locals have fought for the restoration of those kilns since probably the late 80’s, early 90’s,” Mr Sekulla says.

“There’s a lot of work that has to be done around those kilns and I guess one of the things that I’ve been pushing since I’ve been on council was to preserve the kilns and make the whole area an open area, like park land.

“We haven’t been really preserving our history very well and I think this is an opportunity to do that and do it very well and very easily because it’s not a difficult concept.”

In 2017 the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage drafted a plan to build a residential apartments around the kilns in an attempt to preserve them.

Mr Sekulla says the development of the high rise apartments would damage the area.

“I voted against that plan on the basis that we shouldn’t need to have a high rise development of perhaps up to 300 individuals living in that area to pay for the restoration of those kilns,” Mr Sekulla says.

“The amount of damage it would cause to that area in terms of the social environment, cultural environment and transport is quite high.

“There’s been no actual decision made.”

Mrs Holt says the attention on the kilns may decrease due to the current pandemic and they need more support.

“It’s really sad that no one is interested in doing anything and they are just crumbling around us,” Mrs Holt says.

“All we hear from the state government is that they have no money.

“We feel that because of the corona virus the attention might drop off that again.”

Mrs Holt says the preservation of the kilns is a state issue and needs to be addressed.

“If we don’t get the answers that we would like from the city of Belmont and the state government our next step would possibly would be to do a petition to the state government because it’s a state issue not just a community issue,” Mrs Holt says.

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