2014 candidate for City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters.
Heritage survey responses.
What do you think Council's role is in protecting and conserving heritage?
Councils play an important role in protecting Local Heritage sites as well as Contributory Items in Historic Conservation Zones. Councils can create HCZs to protect the historic character of residential areas. Councils can also nominate places for State Heritage listing but I have not seen many do this. Councils can come under pressure from residents and businesses not to list their properties for protection. In 2005-6 just before the 2006 council elections, our council had a battle over the introduction of HCZs in some areas and some residents in the Payneham area were strongly opposed to their properties being listed. I was involved in this fight as I was on council at the time. Sadly some buildings which deserved protection were removed from the lists of items to be protected. I worked very hard to ensure that as many buildings as possible were protected. I have some near neighbours who have refused to speak to me since that time as they lobbied hard to have their house removed from the Contributory Item list and I fought to keep it listed (which it was). Councils can do much to promote the value of history and heritage. I believe our council does a good job in parts of this thanks largely to the work of our dedicated history researcher Denise Schumann. Our council also makes grants to people for restoring and maintaining Local Heritage and Contributory Item places which is an incentive to care for historic and heritage properties. I feel our council could do more to promote an understanding and appreciation of heritage. Our older housing stock is held in contempt by some people who prefer to demolish and build large new 2-storey McMansions. This trend is a threat to the character of our older inner suburbs and I am committed to opposing this trend.
What measures and incentives do you support to protect and conserve local heritage?
I have mentioned the grants council makes. I think we should have an annual or 2-yearly award for the best heritage restoration work in our council area (at present we have an award for the best new development). More articles on the worth of heritage places should appear in council's 3-monthly Newsletter. Free architectural advice was offered by a heritage architect attached to council for a number of years. I think this was funded to some extent by the State government and this funding may have been withdrawn. I believe council should fund this as it is important that people get good advice when adding to or restoring heritage and historic places. There needs to be greater education of councillors about the importance of protecting and conserving heritage. Perhaps the National Trust could send speakers out to councils sometimes. From experience I have found that very few councillors attend educational seminars on heritage. More effort needs to be put into combatting the spurious arguments that heritage listing devalues your house. I am sure that articles on this would help educate the general community. Council should be doing this but council planning staff are generally flat out dealing with development applications with little time left for other tasks. Celebrating History Week is an important way to promote heritage protection. I am sure that there are other measures and incentives I could think of if I had a few days to think about it, but this is the best I can do with the time constraints now on me.
What is the most important heritage protection issue in your local government area?
The deliberate neglect of heritage properties is very important. The sad case of Bell's Plumber's Shop on Payneham Road shows that an owner who is determined to undermine and destroy his/her heritage building can largely succeed. This owner has done everything in his power to ruin that building and even today he has escaped having to pay a large fine because he has transferred ownership of the property to a dodgy Panamanian company (according to The Sunday Mail). For Local Heritage and Contributory Items there is no penalty for allowing a building to deteriorate. I have seen this deterioration occur when the owner is very determined. There is a reward, in some sense, in our Development Plan, in that if the property becomes very degraded, the owner is allowed to demolish it because it is said that it would be prohibitively expensive to fix the building up. I don't know the solution to this. Some property owners are genuinely short of money and struggle to maintain their buildings. Perhaps equally as important is the State government's urban infill policies. People will continue to oppose the listing of their grand old house if it can be knocked down and replaced with 10 2-storey units. Urban consolidation continues to be the major threat to the liveability of our suburbs and their character, historic and heritage qualities, in my view.
What policies and programs will you advocate to protect and conserve heritage in your local area?
strong support for heritage protection including Historic Conservation Zones. Support heritage incentives through grants and free architectural advice. More promoting of the value of heritage and historic sites in council's literature and publications. Supporting free seminars where heritage architects can talk with residents about restoration issues. Stronger implementation of council's existing Guidelines on Heritage Fencing in Historic Conservation Zones - I have been disappointed that planning staff tend to bend to pressure placed on them by residents and approve fencing which is clearly inappropriate in a HCZ. More support for owners of State Heritage places is clearly needed. Some of these buildings are not maintained to the standard they deserve. Local communities may be largely shut out of these buildings and hence not value them. Perhaps encouraging public tours through these buildings would be one way to reverse this trend. There used to be a provision in our Development Plan that any new development was not allowed to dwarf a heritage place nearby. This has now disappeared thanks to the State government's thrust to impose multi-storey flats on our inner suburbs. I think this is a retrograde step but do not think opposing it will gain anything. I have been a strong advocate for good landscaping. Many businesses are reluctant to plant vegetation. However for heritage buildings a landscaped setting is often important. I will continue to advocate for trees and landscaping on business premises, particularly those of heritage value.
Do you support local Councils retaining development approval powers for projects over $3m in value?
Yes,. I think it is a very dangerous road that John Rau, Planning Minister, is embarking on. Inner suburban councils have had the power to assess multi-storey flats over 4 storeys in height removed from them and now projects over $3m in value. These are then handed to committees staffed by bureaucrats hand-picked by Departmental bureaucrats - the yes men and women who never have to face the voters and undertake no public consultation (the current Development Assessment Commission does not consult the public and makes its decisions behind closed doors). Councils do not always get things right but they are the form of government closest to the people. Even with council Development Assessment Panels being dominated by so-called "independents" councils still retain some control over planning policy and how staff assess development applications. It is very worrying that the Planning Review is recommending that more planning and development assessment powers be stripped from local councils and handed over to regional Planning Boards and regional Development Assessment Panels. The people who sit on these regional bodies will not be accountable to local communities. This will mean the death of local democracy. Councils will be reduced to rates, roads and rubbish. Back to the past. John Rau wants to get the "politics" out of planning - he really means get the people out of planning, those pesky citizens who dare oppose some developments.
Do you have any other thoughts about the protection of heritage in your Council area?
It is worrying that the Planning Review has made derogatory comments about Contributory Items, which the Review has termed "heritage creep" and wasteful of resources. Contributory Items are the building blocks of our Historic Conservation Zones. Without them we wont have HCZ's. The residents of St. Peters and other inner suburbs will rise in revolt if this government tries to remove HCZs. We need politicians who value heritage - not just local but also State ones. It is disappointing that the current Labor government has shown itself to be largely indifferent to heritage protection (witness the disgraceful slashing of the Adelaide City Council's submitted list of buildings for heritage protection by the government). Perhaps some heritage candidates for the Upper House would be the way to do to raise the profile of heritage. I have been to meetings of the State Heritage Council and was appalled at the low standard of debate (this in relation to the nomination of the Women's Community Centre on Nelson Street Stepney for State Heritage listing). Clearly cultural heritage is not valued by some members of this committee. Perhaps some of them are government appointees with little background in heritage. The National Trust could look into this (as you probably have). Cultural heritage is not well understood by politicians or the public either and is belittled by some in positions of power. A lot more education on this issue is warranted. As this is council election time I should add the following (legislative requirement) Authorised by Evonne Moore 77 Henry Street Maylands 5069