Heritage homes plans questioned
The Town of Richmond Hill recently received a heritage permit application from Garden Homes (Leslie) Inc., proposing alterations to two heritage-designated structures at Leslie Street and Major Mackenzie Drive East.
The Cyrus Mapes House, located at 9920 Leslie St., is a virtually intact example of a mid-19th century tradesman’s cottage. The Jacob Horner House, located at 9940 Leslie St., is the last remaining early dwelling in the vicinity of the hamlet of Headford.
Currently, the property containing both heritage homes is undergoing redevelopment to accommodate 85 single-detached dwellings. They have been moved to a temporary location for site servicing, which is expected to be complete this spring.
Both the Mapes and Horner houses bear significant architectural details, such as a three-bay facade and a T-shaped plan.
“The T-shaped plan is a crucial element of [both houses], but we want to make sure that they can be adopted for new uses,” said Joanne Leung, manager of urban design and heritage with the Town of Richmond Hill.
Which is why additions are necessary to make the houses more viable.
“The existing homes are small,” said Patrick Lee, the town’s director of policy planning. “They need to be built up to modern standards.”
The applicant is seeking to add a 3,780-square-foot addition to the existing 1,047-square-foot Mapes House and a 2,356-square-foot addition to the 1,820-square-foot Horner House.
Both proposals are more like complete suburban homes, rather than sympathetic additions to heritage houses, Leung said. “It [the design] has no regard for the character and scale of the existing houses.”
“I came to this picture of what they were proposing, my comment was: it looks like a Cadillac Escalade had an accident with a 1960s MG,” said Richmond Hill Coun. David West.
Town staff provided Heritage Richmond Hill with a report that concludes the proposed additions do not constitute good heritage planning, two key issues being physical incompatibility and scale. Heritage Richmond Hill has passed a recommendation to Council to deny the application. A committee of the whole meeting has been scheduled for April 13.