A Douglas Park woman is in shock after discovering the house she has lived in for 45 years has been included on the heritage list.
Margaret Summers calls the Gatekeepers Cottage at Douglas Park her home. The house was first constructed in 1903 and contains a centuries worth of stories within its walls – but as of 2013, the house was heritage-listed. Mrs Summers says she was not aware that her home was even under consideration for the list and is outraged with the lack of consultation.
“I can’t do anything to the house now,’’ she said. “I can’t change it. I didn’t even know about it until someone in the town came and told me it had been heritage listed because it’s over 100 years old.”
Mrs Summers’ daughter, Margaret Shumak, echoes her mothers thoughts and feelings.
“It puts a stop on what you can do to your house,” she said. “If mum wanted to extend, or she needed work done, it all has to be approved.”
Both Mrs Summers and Mrs Shumak have attempted to keep the house the same over the years – but sections of the 106-year-old cottage, including the original fireplace, are beginning to erode. Because the fireplace is an original feature of the house, under NSW Legislation no changes that may compromise the original design and integrity of the house can be made without council approval.
— Cat (@notspeltwithak) 27 May 2016
“We’ve kept them (the council) away, if they come in and take the photos then that’s it. You can’t change anything,” Mrs Shumak said. “The only reason they (the council) eventually told mum about the listing is because of the mines being built. They wanted to make sure the house didn’t move with all the longwalls.”
Mrs Shumak has also questioned the validity of the heritage listing.
“Eventually they’ll turn it into a parking area,” she said. “They’ll demolish it and make it a parking spot for the railway line.”
Mrs Summers and her late husband Tom purchased the house in 1970.
“We bought the house off the railway and I think we paid $15,000 for it then,” Mrs Summers said. “My husband worked on the railway line with my father. I’ve raised six children and three grandchildren in this house.”
Mrs Summers would like to see her home remain in the family and be passed down for many more generations to come.