Battle for heritage site

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 10-Nov-2017


AN action group advocating for the former Nanga Gnulle wants heritage protection assured for the 45-year-old Alistair Knox-designed house before the City of Greater Bendigo makes any decision about the development of land surrounding the historic house.

But the council insists it is trying to make it easier for residents by concurrently running the two processes – applying a heritage overlay over the house and assessing a development plan for the 1.9 hectares of land in Harley Street, Strathdale.

The Friends of Nanga Gnulle group is demanding to know why the council only released on November 1 the consultants’ reports that underpinned its August decision to put a heritage overlay on the house, with a boundary of five metres, a barrier that the group plan to fight to have extended.

Council records show the report by Built Heritage Pty Ltd on the house was delivered in March and the developer had amended its plan by mid-July to allow for an overlay on the house, with a 5m curtilage.

In the process, the developer reduced lots in the subdivision by one to 14. That amended development plan was gazetted on October 24 and the comment period closed on Tuesday, although acting statutory planning manager Emma Bryant said council would accept late submissions.

“Council will consider all objections to the permit application when the application is reported to council at a future council meeting, which is likely to be in the new year,” Ms Bryant said.

“Given the public interest in the site, the council ensured the notice periods overlapped so that all the information relating to the site was available to the public during both advertising periods.”

But the group is concerned the development will be decided before it has a chance to be heard on the overlay issue.

“These concurrent processes impact each other, and the heritage issues should be completed first with public debate and ability to comment before the planning permit is considered,” Friends of Nanga Gnulle Action Group member Megan Anderson said.

“The release on October 24 of the amended proposal to demolish the property previously known as Nanga Gnulle has left us seriously wondering about the secrecy and lack of transparency of the [council] planning department, and other council representatives.”

National Trust of Australia also called for the release of the Built Heritage report when advocacy manager Felicity Watson wrote to mayor Margaret O’Rourke in August imploring councillors to ensure “that the boundary of the proposed heritage overlay should provide an appropriate landscape context for the dwelling, based on the assessed significance of the place”.

Ms Watson repeated that position in a statement to the Bendigo Weekly: “The National Trust will be advocating for a heritage overlay to be applied to the house, along with an appropriate buffer to protect its setting.”

But she praised the council for responding to community concerns “about the future of Nanga Gnulle, and for seeking independent expert advice to guide a response to the current subdivision plans”.Despite the timing of the two processes, Ms Bryant said the

heritage overlay “will be resolved prior to the subdivision proposal being finalised”.

“Submitters to the amendment are able to request we change the extent of the overlay,” she said.

The consultants’ reports were only released on November 1 when the exhibition period for the overlay started “as documents can be amended up until this time”.

The report itself says the house is notable for the amount of salvaged material that it contains, including from significant structures that had been demolished.


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