The National Trust has written to Maribyrnong Councillors urging them to reconsider a decision not to progress the West Footscray Inter-war and Post-war Heritage Precinct planning scheme amendment. Councillors cited , “financial impacts on property owners outweighing the benefits associated with heritage protection in this instance” as cause to abandon the amendment two weeks ago, instead of submitting it to the Minister for Planning for approval.
In September 2021, Maribyrnong Council endorsed the West Footscray Inter-war and Post-war Heritage Precinct Study 2021, identifying eight precincts to have local significance with a high level of intactness and authenticity. The Minister for Planning approved an interim heritage overlay to properties across the precincts in December 2021 to protect them while the planned amendment was progressed.
Image: Map of proposed eight precincts of the West Footscray Inter-war and Post-war Heritage Precinct Study 2021. Source: Maribyrnong City Council
The National Trust submitted in support of the amendment in early 2022, following public exhibition. Council received 199 submissions from community members, owners, public agencies, service authorities and the National Trust. Of these, 33 submissions supported the amendment as exhibited and 166 submissions either requested changes, further information, or did not support the amendment in the form exhibited.
An independent Planning Panel held a six-day hearing in late 2022, after which the Panel concluded the amendment was strategically justified and recommended adoption subject to changes. The Panel Report found both the Feasibility Study and Heritage Study used a robust methodology, but were impacted by a lack of broad consultation that could not occur during pandemic restrictions.
At Council’s Ordinary Meeting on 20 June Maribyrnong Councillors voted to abandon the planning scheme amendment and instead request the Minister for Planning remove the interim Heritage Overlay.
In May, the National Trust submitted feedback to Maribyrnong Council on a Heritage Review – Challenges and Opportunities discussion paper in preparation for a new heritage strategy planned to be exhibited later this year. In our letters to Council we have noted that issues of development opportunity, property value, and personal financial impact are not relevant when assessing the heritage significance of a place or precinct but should be considered during the planning permit application process, and that the Heritage Overlay does not restrict owners from applying to extend or modify a place.
Read our letter to Maribyrnong Council on the West Footscray Inter-war and Post-war Heritage Precinct here.
Read our feedback on the Maribyrnong Council Heritage Review – Challenges and Opportunities discussion paper here.