As discussed on our blog two months ago, linked here, the National Trust appeared at a Planning Panel objecting to a Planning Scheme Amendment that proposed the weakening of heritage controls at various sites of local heritage significance in the Yarra Ranges. The proposed changes included the removal of tree controls to 90 heritage places; and the removal of paint controls to 34 heritage place. The Panel Report has now been made available, and overwhelmingly supports the arguments outlined by the National Trust in our submission (which can be accessed here)
The National Trust views the recommendations put forth by this independent Planning Panel as a major win for heritage places in the Yarra Ranges, and for heritage place throughout Victoria. The Panel recommendations provide detailed discussion and opinion regarding the role, need and function of paint and tree controls, and their practical application (or lack thereof), and can be utilised by the National Trust in arguing for and against Planning Scheme Amendments in the future.
A summary of the panel’s findings has been summarised below (and the report in its entirety can be accessed here):
With respect to the proposal to remove tree controls from 90 heritage places, the Panel finds:
- The information on many of the heritage citations is limited and based on old and dated information
- Limited site inspections were undertaken and those inspections were primarily to determine if the trees still existed and matched the description in the citation
- No assessment was undertaken of original garden layouts or how the vegetation contributed to the heritage significance of the site
- These assessments were not conducted or peer reviewed by a heritage expert.
With respect to the proposal to remove paint controls from 34 heritage places, the Panel finds:
- Information about the original paint scheme for heritage sites is not often included in the heritage citations
- No assessment has been provided about the contribution paint schemes, regardless of whether the building has an original finish or whether it has been painted more recently in an original colour scheme, has on the heritage significance and appearance of a building and its setting
- The review of the permit requirement for paint controls was not conducted or peer reviewed by a heritage expert.
The Panel concluded that it did not support the methodology and rigour of the assessments on which the removal of these permit controls is based. As a way forward, the Panel suggests that Council ‘split’ the Amendment into two parts to build on the work undertaken to date. For Stage 2, the Panel recommends that consideration for the Amendment be deferred ‘until the proposed removal of paint and tree controls have been reviewed by a heritage specialist to provide the rigour and a methodology for any changes to the Heritage Overlay’. The Panel also recommended that this heritage specialist provide a policy upon which Council can make decisions in regards to the application and/or removal of these controls. This policy position could include (for example):
A policy that stipulates that paint controls will only apply to:
- public buildings
- unpainted brickwork and render
- rows of identical buildings
And a policy on tree controls that could apply to:
- Public gardens
- sites with original planting schemes
- Sites where trees contribute to the aesthetic, landscape and historic setting.