Court her­itage bid re­jected

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - PA­TRICK GEE

AF­TER fail­ing to se­cure Na­tional Her­itage list­ing for Wil­low Court, the Der­went Val­ley Mayor is pon­der­ing whether to fight the fed­eral gov­ern­ment or de­mol­ish build­ings on the site.

Af­ter more than three years of de­lib­er­a­tion, the coun­cil re­ceived no­tice fed­eral Environment Min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg had last week re­jected the nom­i­na­tion.

Coun­cil-owned build­ings on the site of the for­mer asy­lum, Wil­low Court Bar­racks Precinct and Frescati House, were nom­i­nated by the coun­cil for na­tional list­ing in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

Mayor Mar­tyn Evans said the coun­cil was now in a bind af­ter two costly at­tempts to find ways to pre­serve the build­ings had failed.

There were no res­o­lu­tions from a $60-80,000 ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est process seek­ing adap­tive reuses for the site, which ended in May.

Cr Evans said about $50,000 was spent on the nom­i­na­tion for Na­tional Her­itage list­ing.

He said coun­cil would have to de­cide whether to spend more money on the fight for fed­eral pro­tec­tion, or ap­ply to have the build­ings re­moved from the state her­itage reg­is­ter.

Cr Evans said he was dis­ap­pointed no state mem­ber for Lyons, ex­cept Craig Far­rell, had made con­tact or ex­pressed their dis­ap­point­ment at the her­itage de­ci­sion.

“I’ve had no phone call from the Her­itage Min­is­ter [ Elise Archer] or even the Pre­mier who looks af­ter tourism,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously they don’t care.

“If I was to put a re­quest to re­move it from the Her­itage Coun­cil or Tas­ma­nian Her­itage, I won­der if they would just say yes or would they start treat­ing it se­ri­ously then?

“Let’s just re­move it [from the state her­itage reg­is­ter] and we’ll de­mol­ish the amaz­ing hedge struc­ture that’s at the front of Fras­cati and put a carpark in there. Would that be OK?”

MLC Craig Far­rell said he was sur­prised, shocked and dis­ap­pointed at the re­sults of the as­sess­ment.

“I look around at some of the other places that have been listed and think, what has this area done to up­set some­one?” Mr Far­rell said.

Cr Evans said he was seek­ing to meet with state and fed­eral min­is­ters and Tas­ma­nian Her­itage Coun­cil chair­woman Brett Torossi to dis­cuss op­tions to ap­peal the her­itage de­ci­sion.

He said an ap­peal against the find­ings might mean a court case against the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

“I’d hate to see the bill if you lost that case,” he said.

Cr Evans said main­tain­ing Wil­low Court was a cost to ratepay­ers ev­ery year.

UTAS history pro­fes­sor Hamish Maxwell-Ste­wart said Na­tional Her­itage list­ing would have helped Wil­low Court, but would not have solved all of the site’s is­sues.

“Wil­low Court is one of a num­ber of high-pro­file build­ings which we’ve got to find some very clever way of con­firm­ing,” Prof Maxwell-Ste­wart said.

He said the is­sue was find­ing a sym­pa­thetic on­go­ing use for the Bar­racks build­ing which gen­er­ated suf­fi­cient rev­enue to con­serve it.

“But it’s not go­ing to be easy — it’s go­ing be a strug­gle,” he said. “I’m sur­mis­ing that one of the rea­sons the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was re­luc­tant to list it was be­cause once some­thing goes onto a her­itage list, it be­comes be­holden on gov­ern­ment to dig deep into their pock­ets to make sure that it’s pro­tected and pre­served.”

A spokesper­son from the De­part­ment of Environment and En­ergy said Mr Fry­den­berg had not vis­ited Wil­low Court dur­ing the as­sess­ment process.

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