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The City of Port Phillip recently undertook public consultation on a draft local heritage policy and draft heritage design guidelines which will ultimately form part of a planning scheme amendment to be prepared in early 2020 and applied to those areas of the municipality that are covered by a heritage overlay.
The Council have indicated that the review of this policy is to ensure that it responds to the community’s growing and changing needs. The documents were on display and open for comments until 5 August 2019.
The draft policy includes objectives and strategies for heritage conservation including conservation of aboriginal cultural heritage and provides more detail than the current local policy found at Clause 22.04 of the Port Phillip Planning Scheme.
Whilst the draft policy hasn’t been drafted in the same way a planning scheme amendment policy would, it still provides policy guidelines under specific matters which now include: general, demolition, conservation, additions, new buildings, car parking, fencing, signage, significant trees, sustainability and services, subdivision and public realm and infrastructure.
One of the criticisms of the existing local policy is that it provides a blanket application regardless of site context (i.e. zoning and strategic directions). Appropriately, the new draft policy does provide flexibility in areas where higher-density development is encouraged as it relates to additions and new buildings.
Curiously the draft policy includes a reference to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage, which falls under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act and outside the ambit of the Planning and Environment Act and therefore the Planning Scheme.
One of the policy guidelines set out under heritage conservation, a general strategy under heritage and indeed, one of the background documents considered in the drafting of the heritage design guidelines is ‘The Burra Charter’. The inclusion of this as a background document reiterates the Council’s position on the preservation of its historical features.
There are 70 pages of detailed design guidelines including photos and diagrams which will provide significantly greater information to permit applicants on what the council will consider appropriate in areas covered by the heritage overlay. Currently, permit applicants are provided with little guidance in the local policy and must wait for referral comments from Council’s heritage advisor. The provision of these guidelines allows permit applicants to review and design in accordance with to hopefully reduce the number of issues raised by the Council.
Author: Hayley Vinecombe, Senior Planner
 The Burra Charter is the founding document of Australia ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and guides how Australian heritage practitioners conserve places. It has been applied to buildings, city landmarks, memorials, trees, gardens, parks, historical and archaeological sites and countless urban, suburban and regional places across Australia.