The following statement was sent to the Herald Sun at 7pm on Thursday 2 January 2020.
In 2019, Council requested removal of the Amendment on seven occasions (8 and 13 May, 24 June, 30 August, 9 and 13 September and 21 October) and had been waiting for a positive response. We also wrote to all local members of state parliament and Premier Daniel Andrews seeking assistance to have Amendment C299 removed, to no effect.
During this time, Council also repeatedly sought authorisations and decisions from the Minister, which would have protected properties at risk of demolition. In one such instance, the Minister was given three months’ notice the property at 360 Auburn Road, Hawthorn was at risk, and he chose to do nothing. That property was subsequently demolished on Christmas Eve.
The Minister’s attempt to rewrite history by claiming his long overdue decision to remove Amendment C299 is part of any ‘agreement’ with the City of Boroondara is bordering on comedic.
There is no agreement in place - indeed, all we have are repeated requests for the Minister to correct what was the extremely prejudicial step of introducing Amendment C299 in the first place.
The Minister chose to target the community of Boroondara and has clearly realised the error of his ways.
The Minister is responsible for a state building and planning system which prevents the protection of heritage properties unless a planning scheme amendment has already commenced. This allows property owners to demolish buildings in advance of controls being finalised.
With the amendment process taking up to 12 months to complete, landowners have plenty of time to receive demolition permits.
It is most disingenuous of the Minister to talk about repeated failures by Council when he is the one controlling the system which allows these issues to arise.
Well over 10,000 properties in Boroondara are currently protected by heritage controls. We have also allocated over $1 million dollars to our five-year Municipal Wide Heritage Gap Study to identify further historical properties and precincts. Very few, if any, Councils take the preservation of their history as seriously as Boroondara.
It will be a great outcome to see the end of Amendment C299, which has been responsible for the loss of heritage properties. At least now Council can take back control of protecting our City’s history on behalf of our community.