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Barwon Water Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct Park Proposal

Last week the National Trust made a submission to Barwon Water regarding a proposal to establish a 66-hectare park around the heritage-listed Barwon River Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct in Breakwater. The Geelong & Region Branch of the National Trust has been instrumental in advocating for the protection and conservation of the Aqueduct for 20 years, working to see local community action on this issue. Recently the Branch had success bring together many local heritage and environmental groups, including the Victoria Chair of Engineers Australia, and key Barwon Water staff to discuss solutions to the conservation of spans which are proposed for removal.

Barwon Water’s initial proposal for the Ovoid Sewer Aqueduct forms part of community and stakeholder consultation (late-Jan to February 2017), leading up to an application to Heritage Victoria for a heritage permit to undertake works to the Aqueduct itself. The proposal aims to conserve and promote the historically significant Aqueduct structure (while improving public safety); restore public access along the Barwon River and northern bank; provide for a range of low-impact recreational activities; and staged-development of visitor facilities and protection of the biodiversity, cultural heritage and floodplain values of the park. Overall, while the National Trust supports the increase in public access to the Aqueduct Park via the use of walking trails and lookout points which would facilitate greater visitor engagement with the natural and cultural values of the Aqueduct Park, we do have some specific concerns relating to additional strategies and consultation, and proposed demolition.

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1. Red Cross Rest House, Caulfield Military Hospital

Former Red Cross Rest Home in Caulfield added to Victorian Heritage Register after 2-year campaign

Back in 2015, the National Trust became aware of a permit application that proposed the complete demolition of a former Red Cross Rest Home in the grounds of the Former Caulfield Repatriation Hospital (260-294 Kooyong Road, Caufield). Constructed in 1916, the Rest Home was purpose built to house injured soldiers returned from war, representing a unique and tangible reminder of Victoria’s World War I history and heritage. Based on an assessment of the site’s cultural heritage significance, the National Trust lodged a formal objection to this permit application. To read our object in full, click here, and to read more about the history of the site, click here.

After it was nominated to the Victorian Heritage Register by the Glen Eira Historical Society, the National Trust was disappointed to learn that the lessee of the site, HammondCare, had lodged an appeal against the inclusion of the Red Cross Rest Home on the State Register, arguing that statutory listing would place constraints upon the future development of the buildings services and facilities. Following the appeal, a hearing was held in late-2016 by the Heritage Council to consider submissions from HammondCare, the National Trust, Glen Eira Historical Society and others, and late last week we were informed that the Heritage Council has upheld the decision to include it on the register as a place of significance to the state of Victoria.

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Chalet maintenance program well underway as a new ‘Vision’ for Mt Buffalo is revealed

To read our blog from November 2016 on the ‘story so far’, and for further background to the items discussed below, please click here.

As outlined in detail on our blog here and here, the National Trust has serious concerns for the future preservation of the Mt Buffalo Chalet if a sustainable future use is not identified and implemented as a matter of urgency. Since closing its doors in 2007, the Chalet has sat empty and neglected, very much at the mercy of the harsh alpine climate. A site visit back in August 2016 revealed that while the building was under constant supervision by Parks Victoria, the harsh climate had started to cause serious structural issues for the building, with the front ‘postcard’ section of the building in the best condition, while the rear wings continued to languish.

Over the weekend, the Advocacy team traveled to the North-East to view the recent $2.8m maintenance and restoration program currently underway at the Chalet under the supervision of Parks Victoria, and to attend the community launch of the Mount Buffalo Destination Advisory Group’s ‘Vision for Mount Buffalo’, a 12 month community-led project developed as a ‘gift’ to the state government. While there is still a long journey ahead before the Chalet is finally able to open its doors to visitors, we are hopeful that the ‘Vision’ will offer some new strategies to tackle this complex issue following years of neglect, as well as keeping it firmly on the Government’s agenda. Continue Reading →

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Point Nepean National Park Draft Master Plan

Parks Victoria is currently undertaking a review of the Point Nepean National Park Master Plan ‘to reflect government policy and community views.’ As taken from the Parks Victoria website:

‘The renewal seeks to validate the information and strategic intent of the draft master plan released in 2010 and build on knowledge gathered during engagement in 2010-2016.’

After reviewing the extensive report, the National Trust is generally supportive of the Master Plan, which includes discussion of site context, themes, vision, interpretation strategies, activation strategies for the Quarantine Station and an implementation strategy. The adaptive re-use of the Quarantine Station in particular is essential for ensuring the protection and conservation of Point Nepean’s natural and cultural values for the enjoyment of future generations. Continue Reading →

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Ballarat Station Precinct Redevelopment

In July 2015, the Victorian Government pledged up to $25 million towards the delivery of the Ballarat Station Precinct Redevelopment Project, in partnership with the private sector. As a landmark site included on the Victorian Heritage Register, and as a community asset which is to be privatised in part, it is reasonable for the community to expect the highest quality outcome from the redevelopment process, and one which will protect and enhance our shared heritage. Having reviewed the Concept Plans however, the National Trust have significant concerns about the proposed development, including the quality of built form and urban design, and the adapative re-use of the Goods Shed. Continue Reading →

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New plans for Pentridge Prison to be considered by Heritage Victoria

Following the recent news that Heritage Victoria has granted a permit for a controversial 16-storey tower at the former Pentridge Prison, the National Trust Advocacy Team this week responded to two major applications for new developments at B Division and A Division.

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UPDATE: University of Melbourne System Garden

This week we met with The University of Melbourne to discuss concerns regarding the historically and scientifically significant System Garden, following a media report in late-2016 that the proposed expansion of the neighbouring Veterinary and Agricultural Science building could result the loss of more than 10% of the 160 year old garden. Responding to these concerns, University representatives this week provided the National Trust of Australia (NTAV) with an indication of the footprint of the building and its impact on the System Garden, and we understand that less than 1% of the garden bed space will be permanently impacted, with no loss of heritage plants. We are generally comfortable with the proposed works, and understand that the University is working to conserve and protect the System Garden into the future. The University of Melbourne will continue to keep us informed as plans progress. The System Garden also has been nominated to the Victorian Heritage Register, and we understand that the assessment is due to be advertised in the coming months.

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Threat to System Garden at the University of Melbourne

The National Trust has written to the University of Melbourne expressing serious concerns regarding proposed works to System Garden, the ‘oldest and only remaining garden that operates within systematic guidelines in Australian or even the Southern Hemisphere’ (source: University of Melbourne publication Voice (Vol. 6, No. 9, 2010). As reported by The Age in late November, it is believed that the University has plans to ‘expand the footprint of the neighboring veterinary and agricultural science building next year, [which] will eat into the north-west corner of the garden for about 10 per cent of the one-acre site.’ To read our objection letter in full, click here. Continue Reading →

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UPDATE: A win for the National Trust as the Heritage Council agrees to amend the registration for the Richmond Maltings Complex

As outlined on our blog back in November 2016, and in our post last week, the National Trust has been actively campaigning for the future preservation of the Richmond Maltings as developers seek to transform the former industrial site into a mixed-use residential development. In a separate yet directly corresponding matter, unfolding alongside the various heritage and planning permit applications lodged by the developer Caydon Property Group, the state heritage listing of the site has been brought into contention, specifically relating to an anomolous permit exemption that was put in place when the site was first classified in 2003-4 that allows the 1960s Nylex silos to be demolished without first attaining a heritage permit. After a lengthy process of submissions and a 3-day hearing (held on the 20th, 21st and 25th of October), the Heritage Council has supported the position of the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria, Yarra City Council, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria), and two community based interest groups: Save Dimmeys and ERA Apartments, and has amended the registration to remove the exemption. Continue Reading →

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Caydon Property Group lodge new heritage permits to redevelop the Richmond Maltings site

The National Trust has made a detailed submission to Heritage Victoria this week in response to two new permit applications lodged by Caydon Property Group in their bid to redevelop the Richmond Maltings Complex, a site which demonstrates high architectural, historical, social and scientific significance, and is classified on the Victorian Heritage Register. As outlined on our blog back in November, there are currently multiple live permit applications currently under assessment at various levels of the Victorian Planning Scheme. These new permit applications, split into Stage 1 and Stage 2, are a revision on those submitted previously, detailing an amended concept plan for the site in its entirety. Continue Reading →