On 21 April 2008 the Director of Planning and Development, Darren Booth, announced that the positions of Heritage Adviser and Heritage and Urban Design Officer were being removed from the planning function. Instead, the City would rely on a ‘panel of heritage experts’ who would be contracted to review individual applications.
This decision was taken without reference to the Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee, and as a community representative on the Committee, I felt compelled to alert the general public to this situation, which I did in my newspaper column on Saturday 3 May. I believe that this is a disastrous development for Ballarat’s heritage, leaving the planning area without any professional advocate for heritage, and the ratepayers of Ballarat without an officer to consult on heritage matters. As noted recently, there are issues looming in regard to fitting solar panels in heritage overlay areas. This is just one area where in-house heritage expertise is needed in the planning area.
At our Committee meeting on Tuesday 6 May, we decided to write to the Director of Heritage Victoria and to the Minister for Local Government about this decision, seeking their intervention to restore the positions.
We also decided to petition the Ballarat City Council to restore the two positions.
Anne Beggs Sunter, President