Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Heritage Protection at Camden Council

Macaria which was formerly the offices of Camden Council to 2016. The new council offices are at Oran Park.

Heritage Protection at Camden Council

At tonight's Camden Council meeting (25 October 2016) councillors unanimously agreed to ask council officers to prepare a report on the establishment of a heritage protection sub-committee. It was moved that any proposed  sub-committee might include councillor representativs, community representatives, independent heritage experts, and representatives of historical groups and other appropriate organisations.

This is the first time that Camden Council has considered forming a committee related solely to heritage protection that could include a range of representatives from council, the community and experts in the field.

The motion was moved by Councillor Cindy Cagney, who stated the she felt the committee should be about preservation and promotion of the local area. She talked about her experience on Campbelltown Council and how Campbelltown Council heritage committee helped community members and councillors around heritage matters.

Councillor Cagney mentioned similar sub-committees at Campbelltown, and other councils. She saw any sub-committee taking a broad role on heritage issues, from advising on a heritage palatte for buildings, to writing histories of important heritage items.

Argyle Street in Camden which was originally founded in 1840 as part of the Macarthur's Camden Park.  

Councillor Eva Campbell spoke in support and said that social heritage of the local area was also important and that it was often overlooked. She stated the heritage made up an important part of a community's sense of place.

In reply to an amended motion Councillor Cagney stated that heritage included natural heritage, cultural heritage as well as built heritage of the local area.

Dr Ian Willis gave a public address to the council early in the evening in support of the proposal. His address is as follows:

Camden Council Public Address
FROM: Cr Cagney
TRIM #: 16/300825

 I would like to thank the councillors for the opportunity to address the meeting this evening. I would like to speak in support of the motion put by Councillor Cagney.

 I think that a section 355 sub-committee on Heritage Protection is long over due in the Camden Local Government Area.

 A panel of councillors, experts and community members could give sound and constructive advice to Camden Council on local issues of substance related to local heritage.

 This could contribute to the Council’s knowledge of heritage matters within the community.

 The proposed Heritage Protection sub-committee could allow stakeholders a platform to voice their concerns around any proposed development that effected any issues concerning heritage in the Local Government Area.

 The proposed Heritage Protection sub-committee could seek the view of external experts on contentious heritage matters within the Local Government Area.
 The proposed sub-committee could provide considered advice to Council on matters of heritage concern to the community.

 Perhaps provide more light that heat on matters of community concern.  Such advice might lower the noise levels around proposed development around heritage issues that have arisen in recent months.

 In 2010 I wrote an article that appeared in Fairfax Media which I called ‘Heritage, adismal state of affairs’. It was in response to an article by journalist Jonathan Chancellor about the neglected state of Camden’s heritage lists.

 In the article I quoted Sylvia Hales view expressed in the National Trust Magazine that in New South Wales there had been ‘the systematic dismantling of heritage protection’ over the past five years.

 I also quoted the view of Macquarie University geographer Graeme Alpin who wrote in Australian Quarterly that ‘heritage listing at the local level does not provide much protection at all'’.

 I expressed the view at the time that there needed to be a ‘ thorough and considered assessment of historic houses’. And that  'the current political climate in New South Wales is not conducive to the protection of historic houses. Heritage is not a high priority'.

Six years later I have not changed my view.
 The proposed sub-committee could give greater prominence to the Camden Heritage Inventory, similar to Campbelltown Council and Wollondilly Council.

 In 2015 I wrote a post on my blog that I called ‘Camden Mysterious Heritage List’ in frustration after spending a great deal of time and effort trying to find the heritage inventory on the Council’s website. It is still difficult to find.

 In conclusion, the proposed Heritage Protection sub-committee would be a valuable source of advice for council and provide a platform for the community to express their view around heritage issues.