Thursday, September 27, 2012

Questions about Heritage protection

Dear Katrina 

Thank you for your email. 

Please find attached below brief answers to your questions. 

I would also like to mention that I am a life member and former member of Board of Directors of the National Trust and past Secretary of the Defend Our Heritage group that campaigned to protect the Royal Exhibition Buildings and have it included on the World Heritage List. 

 I am very much supportive of the need to preserve and protect our built and natural environment. 


Anthony van der Craats 
Independent Candidate , City of Melbourne Council Election 2012
Life member of the National Trust of Australia

Melbourne Heritage Action
P.O. Box 24198, Melbourne VIC 3001, Australia

Melbourne Heritage Action
Questions for City of Melbourne election 2012 candidates
September 2012

Do you acknowledge that the built heritage of Melbourne’s CBD is a vital element of Melbourne’s character, essence, liveability and desirability? Yes

Within the City of Melbourne, and particularly in the CBD, our built heritage is being steadily eroded. Buildings that were significant to our city’s character and history have been lost (Lonsdale House and 40% of the Windsor Hotel) or facaded (Myer and current proposals for the Celtic Club and Royal Saxon Hotel). Should the City of Melbourne continue to allow full demolition or facading of heritage buildings? No

The City of Melbourne has recently approved a Heritage Strategy for public comment. It outlines some of the many gaps in heritage protection in the City of Melbourne. Do you support the protection of a wider range of places and the upgrading of policy controls for heritage structures and precincts as recommended in the Heritage Strategy? Yes, and I would even go further. One policy that is being ignored by the City Council is the excellent policy document on Victorian Verandahs.  All too often Council officers ignore or shelve policies on heritage protection.

How will you ensure that this vital heritage strategy is carried out and funded in full and not abandoned as previous heritage studies have been in the past? I would insist that the City of Council when review of all planning applications that they take into consideration heritage preservation and where an application impacts on a site of significance that the application conta9in a detailed report and assessment of its impact on the heritage value in accordance with ICOMOS standards and procedures. I would also invite organistations and heritage experts, academics and architectural historians, outside the City Council, to sit on a heritage review committee that would have charter and responsibility to oversee heritage applications and Council policy development. This committee would operate in a similar basis as the National Trust Building Committee

Would you support the establishment of a dedicated heritage unit or steering committee within the City of Melbourne to ensure heritage is properly managed? Yes, see above

The recent CBD heritage review recommended 99 new individual buildings be heritage listed. However, this can only be seen as “stop gap” study. Many more buildings and notable precincts remain unprotected. Would you support more protection of Melbourne’s increasingly rare, smaller scale heritage buildings and precincts, including its laneways? Yes this would be a task that would fall under the proposed Heritage Committee listed above

As it stands a number of extremely significant heritage interiors such as Block Court on Collins Street and the Centenary Hall interiors on Exhibition Steet have absolutely no protection and could be destroyed at any time without the public or the City of Melbourne being notified. How would you ensure that heritage interiors are protected in the immediate future before they are lost? The proposed expert committee would have the charter to consider any application for inclusion on the City’s heritage list.

Melbourne Heritage Action recently compiled a detailed study of the CBD’s laneways and found that only nine laneways had any real protection. Many lanes celebrated by the City of Melbourne, such as Literature Lane and AC/DC lane, have had major developments approved that make little effort to enhance the lanes they are built on. Melbourne’s lanes continue to be sold off. How will you ensure that Melbourne’s laneway network is better protected and managed? The proposed expert committee would have the charter to consider any application for inclusion on the city’s heritage list and Council’s management policy

Following its inclusion on the list of 99 buildings to be considered for heritage protection in the CBD the famous mosaic floors of Rosati’s restaurant in Flinders Lane were demolished because interim protection—requested by the City of Melbourne over a year ago—had not been approve by Planning Minister Guy. Likewise, the historic former VD clinic on Little Lonsdale Street, on same the list, is the subject of a current demolition application by its owners. In your view, how important is the long accepted mechanism of interim heritage protection? High priority
How will you ensure that the Minister does not continue to ignore requests for interim protection from the City of Melbourne?  Unfortunately the Council cannot override the directions of the State Minister however it is appropriate that the Council monitor and highlight any threats to our built and natural heritage as identified by the Council’s Expert Heritage committee and actively use the resources of the Council to advocate for their protection and if necessary seek legal address at VCAT and the Courts 

The Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for projects in the CBD over 25 000 m2. This means the City of Melbourne is bypassed completely. This threshold is now thirty years old, which means that each year many more projects are over this limit and are ‘called in’. This gives the planning minister power over many more developments than was originally intended. Should this limit be raised, or eliminated altogether?
And should there be a different system for dealing with these larger projects which directly impact on the planning of Melbourne’s CBD? The Council remains the planning authority and has the right to make submissions to the State Government and if need be seek appeal and review.  It must retain the right of oversight and if need be the right to appeal to a higher authority or seek judicial review.

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