Thursday, February 22, 2024

More ministerial support for council heritage registers

Promoting proactive heritage registrations, bolstering local council heritage registers, and exploring more ways to protect state-listed places from falling into neglect are some of the key recommendations to be implemented from the Queensland Heritage Advisory Panel’s report into heritage places, which was released today. 

Queensland Environment Minister, Meaghan Scanlon, last year tasked a panel of specialists from the Australian Institute of Architects, the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) and local government to produce the report and look at ways to bolster existing legislation and frameworks around protecting heritage places.

The Queensland Heritage Council operates in accordance with the Queensland Heritage Act 1992 and is the independent decision maker that decides what places are entered on the state heritage register.  

“Queensland has over 1,700 places entered on the State Heritage Register and over the last couple of years we’ve seen new places entered including the site of Australia’s first act of reconciliation and Ayr’s Masonic Temple, but there remains some gaps,” Minister Scanlon said. 

“The report identified the community often lodges heritage register applications too late in the piece, when a development approval is well and truly in place, and cannot be overruled. 

“So the panel has recommended the department encourage communities to identify the places in their areas, which they think are of heritage significance and apply to have them listed either as a state or local heritage-listed place – that will be done.”

The Minister said councils play a huge role in preserving the state’s history.

“…And, from the report, we’re keen to work with them to help continue to bolster their protections and frameworks,” she said.

“Not every place of course fits within the profile of a place of state heritage significance, but this is where local heritage registers could play an important role. 

“The department will be working closely with councils to see what the current situation is, and what support they can be given to improve their local heritage registers and protections.”

Minister Scanlon said the report also highlighted instances of property owners letting state heritage places falling into disrepair, with the department to review powers to require owners to repair and maintain their properties. 

“Of course, it doesn’t stop with the report, and I’ll be asking my department to observe what other jurisdictions do and to update me on their progress.” 

Queensland Heritage Council Chair, Leslie Shirreffs said the Heritage Council unanimously supported all QHAP recommendations.

“The deterioration of State heritage places like Lamb House and the Broadway Hotel, and last minute campaigns have shown there are gaps in public knowledge in how Queensland’s framework operates,” Ms Shirreffs said.

“QHAP’s recommendations urge that these gaps be addressed, in a way that puts ‘heritage’ at the forefront of community thinking about how to identify and protect heritage places, but also to support their owners.”

Minister Scanlon also announced today that a local government heritage conference would be held in March next year at Maryborough hosted by her department, LGAQ and Fraser Coast Regional Council. 

“A key recommendation of the report is to better work with councils and  their heritage systems and registers,” Minister Scanlon said. 

“The conference will include keynote speakers and educational workshops. 

“It will be an opportunity for local government heritage and planning officers to network and engage with each other to share knowledge and experiences on heritage management throughout Queensland.”

Local Government Association of Queensland CEO, Alison Smith said local councils supported a partnership approach to heritage conservation across all spheres of government, industry and the community.

“The LGAQ is looking forward to joining the State Government and Fraser Coast Regional Council to deliver the Local Government Heritage Officers Conference in 2023 to support and strengthen a partnership approach to heritage conservation,” Ms Smith said.

Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor and Deputy Chair of the Queensland Heritage Council, Mayor George Seymour said the conference is important in ensuring local government heritage officers are better supported to undertake the important work they do in their communities across Queensland.

“I have previously attended this conference which is hosted by local councils. Like so many other events, the COVID-19 meant it needed to be cancelled and it is great to see it returning,” Mayor Seymour said.

Further details on the heritage conference, and processes for registrations, will be advised in due course.

The QHAP report and the implementation strategy for its recommendation are available online

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