Council: More than just Roads, Rates & Rubbish: Provider of Conservation Grants

As I wrote just last week Council is much more than Roads, Rates & Rubbish. It is a provider also not just of Community Grants. We a provider of Conservation Grants.

A number of properties in the City of Unley have a significant contribution to the history of Unley. We have homes not only listed in our Heritage Building Register. We have a number of historic conservation zones in our Development Plan.

In these zones houses have a level of protection not dissimilar to those listed in our register against unsympathetic redevelopment. The Development Plan is trying to preserve our built form history. This does place restrictions on what you as the home owner can do.

If your home is listed or in one of these zones Council recognises that you may be financially challenged in order for you to protect the heritage of the amenity around you.

The same can be said if you are the owner of a significant tree. Under the State’s Development Regulations you cannot remove a significant tree or even prune the tree without Council approval.

Council has therefore a Conservation Grant Policy designed to provide you some assistance/ relief. This policy allows you as a home owner of a heritage building, or of a significant tree, to seek a contribution from Council for the cost of preserving either in a ‘safe and aesthetically pleasing condition’.

Grants may be allocated for up to 50 per cent of the total cost of a single conservation treatment. The maximum amounts available per application are:

  • $1,000 for pruning significant trees; and
  • $5,000 for local heritage buildings and contributory items within Historic Conservation Zone

There is a current round which is open until Tuesday 2 May 2017. If you have a project in mind or a tree requiring pruning I urge you to check out our policy and make application here.

 

What do you think of Unley Council? That is what I was met with this morning by one of our Rate Payers.

She was clearly distressed. They are tearing down the Council Chamber she declared. “We have to stop them” she said repeatedly.

 

central-squareHer concerns related to Council’s recent announcement about investigating redeveloping the Civic Centre Site. She understood Council was about to demolish the Town Hall and the Library. She believed that Council had sent her a letter confirming this.

Newspaper articles have refrained from identifying the Civic Centre site. They have used words like “towering over Town Hall”.  Words like “radical proposal to cannibalise its own Council Chambers”. Ratepayers and others are also distributing flyers indicating Council WILL be building 8 storeys on the Village Green.

Please, please, please! Pay no attention to this alarmist dialogue. It is untrue. For the truth I invite you read my recent blog post.

And let me stress:

1    The Council is only considering whether or not to redevelop the Civic Centre Site. The Civic Centre site houses Council’s administration.

2   We are not demolishing the Town Hall or the Library. They are State Heritage listed buildings. As anyone who knows, we are very proactive in protecting our heritage.

3   We are not going to build over the Town Hall or Library.

4   We have no intention of building an 8 storey building on the Village Green.

5   We have not sent any letter saying otherwise.

6   We are simply looking into what opportunities a redevelopment of the Civic Centre site will provide to better serve the community of Unley.

7   The investigation will take some 12 months.

8   Our community will be asked to contribute what they believe we can achieve in considering such a redevelopment.

We will soon be asking you to help us determine what would be the best use of the Civic Centre site for our future community.

Can I close by asking you this question. Do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

 

The Future of Local Heritage in SA-Unley’s Response

The Government is asking us (everyone) to contribute to determining what is the future of Local Heritage in SA.

 

The City of Unley Council discussed this at our Council meeting last night. The debate in our chamber coincided with a public forum sponsored by the the City of Adelaide in the Adelaide Town Hall. A pity because I would not have minded being a fly on the wall in that room on the night.

We endorsed at our meeting the observations of our Development Strategy & Policy (DSP) Committee (chaired by myself) on what is the future of Local Heritage in SA.

DSP focused on the brief provided by DPTI and the Minister. Focusing on the contents of the brief and solutions rather than engaging in the 2 way vitriol that has caught the attention of the media was our preference. The committee in turn endorsed the work of the Local Government Association and our Senior Policy Planner David Brown with some further observations including:

 

• Conversion of the existing heritage and character provisions, and subsequent review processes, must maintain an equal status for such areas

• Court Appeal rights regarding listing being extended to Council is strongly advocated

• On-merit assessment for local heritage demolition is appropriate, providing the critical robust planning policy criteria is maintained

• Future criteria for listing of local heritage items to be clear and agreed with Council,

 

The observations of the Local Government Association and the observations included in Mr Brown’s report to Coucnil can be found on our website page here.

Your Council is demonstrating in the most  pragmatic way their response to the Minister’s calling. Frustrated as we may be like all others in Local Government we are trying to take a mature approach. Hopefully reasoned debate on our part may influence the Minister to see what he hitherto has not.

 

What is the future of Local Heritage in SA?

The Government is asking us (everyone) to contribute to determining what is the future of Local Heritage in SA.

 

I attended, along with Deputy Mayor Michael Rabbitt and members of our management, a Seminar last Wednesday hosted by the Lord Mayor and the City of Adelaide. The topic essentially was what is the future of local heritage in SA.

John-Rau-3883-850x455The Planning Minister John Rau spoke at the Seminar. A number of invited guests who each extolled the economic benefit of Local Heritage also spoke.

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The Minister went to great pains to indicate that he is yet to take a position. He pushed that he was simply starting the conversation. The audience took a different view. They saw the Minister trying to pull on over on them. He did not take kindly as I have seen him do before in public to the assertions that he was hiding the detail from us.

I support the audience’s view, and that of the following speakers, that the Minister is struggling with a basic concept of what is the difference between heritage and character.

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The Minister appears not to recognise the value of “Heritage Character”.

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He sees heritage as pertaining to a building and character to a collection of buildings. He also, it appears, sees Local Heritage as restricting employment opportunities. Preservation is in the way of development opportunities and the employment that comes with that.

This is not how those with whom he found himself in conflict see it. They see areas/precincts/streets, not just buildings, as having historic value. Some areas, in other words, require protection as much as some buildings.

Each of the speakers spoke in contrast on his economic argument. They argued that Heritage preservation is a positive when looking at local employment. Their addresses (and the ministers) will be available soon on the City of Adelaide website.

I too see the need to protect areas as opposed to simply buildings. The City of Unley does also. The City of Unley, as much as any other municipality within the greater metropolitan area, is indeed testimony to this.

Tonight Council will be considering our response and I will report on this for you.

I now ask you. What is the Future of Local Heritage in SA in your opinion? Do you agree with the Minister or do you see his agenda as potentially destroying local heritage for the sake of redevelopment opportunities?