Friday, July 6, 2018

Heritage house debate: Who said what

16 George St is one of two houses presently for sale on the
same block at 12-16 George St, New Norfolk. Its tangled
heritage status has been the subject of debate at the council
 and on social media.
AT the June meeting of the Derwent Valley Council a motion to apply to have the local heritage listing removed from a house at 16 George St, New Norfolk, was approved by a vote of 5-3.

Commentators on social media have questioned the reporting of this item. The following transcriptions from the official recording of the meeting are provided in the interests of accountability and transparency.

The first version is lightly edited for clarity (mostly removing ums and ahs). The second version is unedited. These transcripts, coupled with the official recording of the meeting (available here) will allow those interested to decide for themselves what was said and by whom.

Thirty-four minutes into the meeting on June 21, mayor Martyn Evans announced agenda item 7.2.

LIGHTLY EDITED TRANSCRIPT

Cr MARTYN EVANS, mayor: Councillor Shaw, moved, George St urgent amendment to heritage list, thank you Mr Blackwell [council manager Richard Blackwell departed the chamber after declaring an interest in the matter]. Do we have a seconder? Cr Belcher. Deputy mayor would you like to...

Cr BEN SHAW, deputy mayor: Thank you Mr Mayor. Ah, just so it is potentially a little bit clearer for some of the members of the public and the councillors, the motion's intent is for council to agree that the general manager writes to the Minister for Planning to remove this listing off council's heritage list. So, a bit of history behind it, from what I have gathered the property owners have been long-term residents of the Derwent Valley. They have lived in that property for generations. There's a couple of buildings on that property, one of which is high heritage significance and another building which was built well after the original building.

At some stage the council had agreed to put it on council's heritage - this building here - on council's heritage listing, and subsequently approved it. This seems to have been a mistake and there's quite a few letters that have been sent to the property owner from the Heritage Council which I have viewed. I got involved because the ratepayers asked me to, because it was really really hard, they were finding it really difficult to deal with council. They were finding it difficult to get a reasonable response out of council and they couldn't get one from out of the planning department, and for a lady who is in her late 80s who was going through all of this was just very very overwhelming. So she asked me to help I guess.

So I went to the minister Guy Barnett's office and ask them for some help and some some advice and some guidance. They contacted the planning office and subsequently came back and said if it is a mistake, if it is a clear mistake that the property has been put on this list, it can be removed but it can only be removed by the Minister for Planning signing off on it himself and he has to agree to it. So this is the motion for our council is, this was a mistake.

This lady really needs to move on with her life, she is trying to sell the property. She can't sell the property because this building is falling down around her and potential buyers are not willing to take the risk. So she's stuck in this property until something happens with this heritage listing, which, as I said, all the documentation is there, I've read the documents from Heritage and they had no interest in this property whatsoever.

FROM THE GALLERY: Correct

Cr SHAW: So the motion is that the Council support, sorry, the motion is that, the councillors here support my motion tonight to ask the planning minister to remove the heritage listing on this particular building, not the property itself, just the building on that property. Thank you.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Mr Deputy Mayor. Anything further councillors?

Cr FRANK PEARCE: Does the planner have any comment on this in relation to it?

Cr EVANS: Patrick?

Mr PATRICK CARROLL, planning officer: Cr Shaw is correct. I've seen the advice from Heritage Tasmania, it is not on the Tasmanian State Heritage Register. It is on the council heritage register and has been listed as a property with local significance since at least '93 and perhaps even as early as '85 or before. I don't agree with the councillor that it's a mistake. It has been listed since at least '93 as a place a local significance.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Patrick. OK. Cr Graham.

Cr JAMES GRAHAM: Yes, Mr Mayor. Well maybe we need to get the wording right then, because it is probably "remove from the council's council's heritage list", is that what it's supposed to read as? So we can probably make that happen. But if it's not their list and it's our list why can't we just take it off?

Cr SHAW: Not allowed to.

Cr GRAHAM: Not allowed to...

Mr MARK EADY, standing in for the general manager: It's under the Planning Scheme, so it's...

Cr GRAHAM: It's on the planning scheme.

Mr EADY: Yeah.

Cr SHAW: Just to clarify, apparently we recommend that and it goes on, under the planning scheme or council recommends it I should say.

Mr EADY: Mmm. Yeah.

Cr EVANS: Okay. Thank you. Cr Salt.

Cr ANNE SALT: Reading the management comment here, if this proceeds as Cr Shaw is suggesting, there's a cost of three to four thousand dollars to the council. So I would wonder how many other properties are listed in a similar way, and council could be liable for those if they set  a precedent with this one.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Cr Salt. Further, councillors? Cr Belcher.

Cr PAUL BELCHER: Yes, thank you and thank the deputy mayor for putting the motion up. I've been round obviously like I think a lot of councillors have been round and seen it. I don't know, this is a sticky one, as Cr Shaw just said, sorry, Cr Salt  just said, costing the council three to four thousand.  It does open the flood gate for anyone to come along and I do believe that there's about six houses in a row there in George St that are under the heritage list. Do you know or not? No. There's about five or six I think there in a row that are on the Heritage. So, I don't know, it's a sticky one. I've been round and seen the ratepayer herself and she is obviously very upset. The house, you know, is in quite a mess and obviously as Cr Shaw said she does want to move on with her life, but I'm sort of umming and ahhing about the three to four thousand because it does sort of open the floodgate for others to come through.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Cr Belcher. Did you want to clarify councillor ...

Cr GRAHAM: Point of clarification, Mr Mayor it says that we're going to request, so I mean it could get knocked on the head anyways, at that level. So there's no guarantee they're going to say "yes you can do it". So there's that happening in there too. Just because we move this doesn't necessarily mean that the next level will say it's a goer. So we need to keep that in our mind also, because a decision at this level is our decision. But somebody else is making the decision in a different room.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Cr Graham. Further, councillors? Cr Shaw would you like to close please?

Cr SHAW: Thank you Mr Mayor. Thank you councillors. I respect all of those comments. Look, I guess for me, we've got to think about the human element here. You know, there is an 80-something-year-old lady who didn't have any say in this property going on to any sort of heritage list,  you know, it's a council heritage list. Heritage Tasmania have not any interest in this building whatsoever. It's in black and white. The the reasoning I'm proposing that we do it all is once again that human element.

We've got a lady here who lives by herself and is an old-age pensioner who would not have three to four thousand dollars - I don't know her personal circumstances but I would imagine, like most pensioners doing it tough in these days, they would not have three or four thousand dollars sitting around - to put an application to the Planning Department to remove something that she had nothing to do with apart from living in her property for her whole life.

So that's the human element for me. The planning minister's office - not the planning minister but the office - ah, while not on record did state that it's a pretty good case that the minister would sign-off on this because it clearly has no heritage value to the Tasmanian Heritage Council...

VOICE FROM THE GALLERY: That's wrong.

Cr SHAW: That's what's being said. So... (interjections)

VOICE FROM THE GALLERY: He wants to talk to someone who...

Cr EVANS: Right!

Cr SHAW: So, no, Mr, thank you.

Cr EVANS: Thank you. Please refrain from making... I'll put that motion. All those in favour of the motion? Those against the motion?

Mr EADY (barely audible): Salt and Graham and Belcher

Cr EVANS: ...and the motion is carried.

VOICE FROM THE GALLERY: You usually give the names for the tape?

Mr EADY (barely audible): Yeah, I did.

Cr EVANS: For or against? Against was Councillor Belcher, Councillor Graham and Councillor Salt. The motion is carried.

The debate ended after nine minutes of discussion.


VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT

Cr EVANS: Councillor Shaw, moved, George St urgent amendment to heritage list, thank you Mr Blackwell [council manager Richard Blackwell departed the chamber after declaring an interest in the matter]. Do we have a seconder? Cr Belcher. Deputy mayor would you like to...

Cr SHAW: Thank you Mr Mayor. Ah, just so it is, um, potentially a little bit clearer for some of the members of the public and the councillors, ah, the motion's intent is for council to agree that the general manager writes to the Minister for Planning, ah, to remove this listing off council's heritage list. So, a bit of history behind it, um, from what I have gathered, um, the property owners, ah, have been long-term residents of the Derwent Valley, um, they have lived in that property for generations, um, there's a couple of buildings, um, on that property, one of which is high heritage significance and another building which was built, um, well after the original building. Um, at some stage, ah, the council had agreed to put it on council's heritage - this building here - on council's heritage listing, um, and approved it, subsequently approved it. This seems to have been a mistake and there's quite a few letters, um, that have been sent to the property owner from the Heritage Council which I have viewed, um, I received, I, I got involved because the ratepayers asked me to because it was really really hard, they were finding it really difficult to deal with council, um, they were finding it difficult to get a reasonable response out of council and they couldn't get one from out of the planning department, um and for a lady who is in her late 80s, um, who was going through all of this was just very very overwhelming. So, um, she asked me to help I guess. So I went to the minister Guy Barnett's um, office and ask them for some help and some some advice and some guidance. Ah, they contacted the planning office and subsequently came back and said if it is a mistake, if it is a clear mistake that the property has been put on this list, it can be removed but it can only be removed by the Minister for Planning signing off on it himself and he has to agree to it. So this is the motion for our council is, this was a mistake. This lady really needs to move on with her life, she is trying to sell the property. Um, she can't sell the property because this building is falling down around her and, um, potential buyers are not willing to take the risk. So she's stuck in this property um until something happens with this heritage listing, ah, which, as I said, all the documentation is there, I've read the documents from Heritage and they had no interest in this property whatsoever.

FROM THE GALLERY: Correct

Cr SHAW: So the motion is that the Council support, sorry, the motion is that, um, the councillors here support my motion tonight to ask the planning minister to remove the heritage listing on this particular building, not the property itself, just the building on that property. Thank you.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Mr Deputy Mayor. Anything further councillors?

Cr PEARCE: Is our planner, does the planner have any comment on this in relation to it?

Cr EVANS: Patrick?

Mr PATRICK CARROLL, planning officer: Cr Shaw is correct. I've seen the advice from Heritage Tasmania, it is not on the Tasmanian State Heritage Register. It is on the council heritage register and has been listed as a property with local significance since at least '93 and perhaps even as early as '85 or before. Um, I don't agree with the councillor that it's a mistake. It has been listed since at least '93 as a place a local significance.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Patrick. OK. Cr Graham.

Cr GRAHAM: Yes, Mr Mayor. Well maybe we need to get the wording right then, because it is probably "remove from the council's council's heritage list", is that what it's supposed to read as? So we can probably make that happen. But if it's not their list and it's our list why can't we just take it off?

Cr SHAW: Not allowed to.

Cr GRAHAM: Not allowed to...

Mr MARK EADY, standing in for the general manager: It's under, it's under, it's under, it's under the planning, it's under the Planning Scheme, so it's...

Cr GRAHAM: It's on the planning scheme.

Mr EADY: Yeah.

Cr SHAW: Just to clarify, apparently we recommend that and it goes on, under the planning scheme or council  recommends it I should say.

Mr EADY: Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. Yeah.

Cr EVANS: Okay. Thank you. Cr Salt.

Cr ANNE SALT: Reading the management comment here, um, if this proceeds as Cr Shaw is suggesting, there's a cost of three to four thousand dollars to the council. So I would wonder how many other properties are listed in a similar way, and council could be liable for those if they set  a precedent with this one.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Cr Salt. Further, councillors? Cr Belcher.

Cr PAUL BELCHER: Yes, thank you and thank the deputy mayor for putting the motion up. Um, I've been round obviously like I think a lot of councillors have been round and seen it. Um, I don't know, this is a sticky one, um, as Cr Shaw just said, sorry, Cr Salt  just said, ah, costing the council three to four thousand. Um, it does open the flood gate for anyone to come along and I do believe that there's about six houses in a row there in George St that are under the heritage list. Do you know or not? No. There's about five or six I think there in a row that are on the Heritage. So, I don't know, it's a sticky one. I've been round and seen the, um, the ratepayer herself and she is obviously very upset. Um, the house, you know, is in quite a mess and um obviously as Cr Shaw said she does want to move on with her life, but I'm sort of umming and ahhing about the three to four thousand  because it does sort of open the floodgate for others to come through.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Cr Belcher. Did you want to clarify councillor ...

Cr GRAHAM: Point of clarification, Mr Mayor it says that, ah, we're going to request so I mean it could get knocked on the head anyways, at that level. So there's no guarantee they're going to say "yes you can do it". So I mean there's that happening in there too. Just because, ah, we move this doesn't necessarily mean that the next level will say it's a goer. So we need to keep that in our mind also, because a decision at this level is our decision. But somebody else is making the decision in a different room.

Cr EVANS: Thank you Cr Graham. Further, councillors? Cr Shaw would you like to close please?

Cr SHAW: Thank you Mr Mayor. Thank you councillors. I respect, um, all of those comments. Ah, look I guess for me, I mean, we've got to think about the human element here. You know, there is an 80-something-year-old lady who didn't have any say in this property going on to any sort of heritage list,  you know, um it's a council heritage list. Heritage Tasmania have not, Heritage Tasmania have not  any interest in this building whatsoever. It's in black and white. The the reasoning I'm proposing that we do it all is once again that human element. We've got, we've got a lady here who lives by herself and is an old-age pensioner who would not have three to four thousand dollars - I don't know her personal circumstances but I would imagine, like most pensioners doing it tough in these days, they would not have three or four thousand dollars sitting around to put an application to the Planning Department to remove something that she had nothing to do with apart from living in her property for her whole life. So that's the human element for me. Um, the planning minister's office - not the planning minister but the office - ah, while not on record did state that it's a pretty good case that the minister would sign-off on this because it clearly has no heritage value to the Tasmanian Heritage Council...

VOICE FROM THE GALLERY: That's wrong.

Cr SHAW: That's what's being said. So... (interjections)

VOICE FROM THE GALLERY: He wants to talk to someone who...

Cr EVANS: Right!

Cr SHAW: So, no, Mr, thank you.

Cr EVANS: Thank you. Please refrain from making... I'll put that motion all those in favour of the motion? Those against the motion?

Mr EADY (barely audible): Salt and Graham and Belcher

Cr EVANS: ...and the motion is carried.

VOICE FROM THE GALLERY: You usually give the names for the tape?

Mr EADY (barely audible): Yeah, I did.

Cr EVANS: For or against? Against was Councillor Belcher, Councillor Graham and Councillor Salt. The motion is carried.

The debate ended after nine minutes of discussion.


LISTEN FOR YOURSELF, HERE (debate starts at 34:05)

2 comments:

  1. Oh dear, what a dreadful 'debate'. Interesting the councillors who said nothing and voted for the motion. Surely it would've been much more sensible to pass the motion with the proviso that the fee be collected at the time of sale of the property. There is no way that the ratepayers of this community should bear the costs of this exercise particularly when the property owner has obviously been aware for many years of the heritage
    listing and let the place fall into disrepair. Sad really.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So it was listed as being of local significance, but now its cheaper to knock it over so we"re insignificant.

    ReplyDelete