2018 candidate for City of Victor Harbor.
Heritage survey responses.
Do you agree that the identification and protection of local heritage places is best done by local councils rather than DPTI (Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure)?
Best done at community level, by Councils, and especially guided by dedicated Section 41 Committees of Councils. DPTI , especially the huge, expensive and conflict ridden one in SA, is no place for heritage conservation. A classic example of DPTI incompetence, and lack of communication, is here in Victor Harbor where DPTI is famous for lack of dialogue with stakeholders in the future of Granite Island, and where DPTI has stood by for decades letting the wooden causeway and screw pile jetty heritage disintegrate, to the point where soon the only traffic to Granite Island will be foot traffic. DPTI policy and practice onroad signposting to heritage sites is similarly insensitive, very high cost and standardised to the point of discouragement. The main issue for Councils is that they lack the funding for heritage conservation, and often don’t have access to the expertise to properly curate heritage sites and records.
In your opinion, has the current system of local heritage protection served your community well?
A majority of the architectural and marine heritage in Victor Harbor was destroyed several decades ago. The marine heritage in Victor Harbor has regrettably reached a stage where the cost of conservation, let alone preservation means that new infrastructure is required. Much more should be done to preserve the document heritage. Excellent examples of archiving exist, but a lot more needs to be done. An urgent need is to explain the significance of heritage to new generations. Heritage trails are very good, but more explanation is required. There are many sites where the geological and aboriginal heritage needs further promotion and explanation.
Should councils reject proposals to list local places of historic merit simply because an owner objects?
Listing of local heritage sites and features is a fraught process, requiring constant effort on community education, consultation and dealing with the issues of requiring private investment for public good. Councils that have the most up to date and community driven planning processes and plans will have the least difficulty with the costs and aggravation of objection processes and heritage conservation. Victor Harbor Council has completely outdated planning, including a City Master Plan last revised in 2006. Councils in such circumstances are always approaching heritage conservation in a reactive rather than a proactive manner, with excessive legal bills and delays in conservation. Also Victor Harbor planning documents are focused on welfare and ‘lifestyle’ with little attention to economic development. The active growth and development of a local economy is the best environment in which to promote and implement heritage conservation. Most heritage destruction comes out of depressed economies. Councils also tend to dominate dialogue with landowners over listing, when they rarely have the staffing to engage in a careful process of negotiation. There are community organisations that can do a better job, but few Council staffs are willing to use those informal levers.
Should neighbours of local heritage listed buildings have a right of appeal on development applications that propose demolition?
Yes. Again, however, the appeal process would most often have far better, sustainable outcomes if the appeal processes included neighbors, and was mentored by local “citizen courts”, for want of a better term, rather than being run solely, and often in secret by bureaucracies. Current appeal processes are rushed, immensely costly in legal fees, framed in excessively complex bureaucraciesand processes. Sometimes the local objection is to the clearing away of beautiful gardens, rather than the buildings, requiring a different approach. There also needs to be very severe penalties for owners who claim ignorance and put a bulldozer through a site in the middle of the night.
Should buildings listed as Contributory Items in your council area receive better protection?
This comes back to community dialogue and education, and available funds. There is a limit to which private people can be compelled to carry a public cost.
Do you agree that places proposed for listing by your council as Local Heritage or Contributory Items should be subject to review by DPTI? Or would reviews be more appropriately conducted by an independent source of expert advice?
Definitely not DPTI. Get local citizen groups and local experts to carry out careful reviews with owners. This will mean minimal bureaucratic process, and most likely minimal involvement of lawyers.
Would you like to see your council work more closely with the National Trust of SA in protecting heritage, for example, by signing up as one of the Trust's Civic Partners?
I would like to see the Trust, and other community groups interested in heritage conservation, working more closely with the Council.
What are your personal suggestions for improving the way your council handles policy and planning?
Be more engaging with Community, bring back Wards, and hold more town hall meetings. Make better use of local groups
Should councils actively encourage individuals to nominate places for consideration as local heritage?
Yes, after those individuals present a thoroughly researched proposal, including detailed analysis of the future costs and responsibilities of all stakeholders.