THE proposed sale of a further three buildings at Willow Court would further diminish the integrity of the historic precinct, Tasmanian Greens MHA Tim Morris said yesterday. Just one day before the formal handover of its new agreement with the State Government, the Derwent Valley Council on Saturday called for expressions of interest in the purchase and redevelopment of Wards D, E and G, adjacent to the Willow Court oval.
Mr Morris said that with former deputy premier David Llewellyn set to take charge of a new management committee that will oversee and drive the preservation and redevelopment of the historic Willow Court at New Norfolk, it was likely that noticeable progress would at last be made after a decade of delays and procrastination.
“I have had some very productive discussions with [Heritage] Minister Brian Wightman and the Derwent Valley Council in recent weeks, and I am convinced that there are good prospects for substantial progress to be made at last," Mr Morris said. “The recent work that has been undertaken by the volunteers of the Friends of Frescati shows what can be achieved by a small group of people with a clear vision and the backing of the council,” he said.
“I remain concerned that the council intends to try to sell off three more buildings which will potentially further diminish the heritage value of the site because they will not have adequate control over the future use of that area.”
Mr Morris also called on the council to consider integrating the maintenance of the site grounds and streets into its regular works program. He said the council had refused this idea, based on a decision made several years ago that it would not use any resources from its own budget to care for the site. “I strongly urge the council to revisit this decision as the site is a valuable asset for the municipality and that value will be maximised if the site is properly maintained.”
“Willow Court is an important heritage site for all of Tasmania and I will do everything I reasonably can to assist in its protection,” Mr Morris said.
The decision to attempt to sell the buildings adjoining the oval was made before the destruction of Ward F by fire. Expressions of interest have been sought and rejected on several occasions in the past.