At tonight’s Council Meeting, Councillors voted 6 to 3 to proceed with
Option A – Initiate a heritage protection process (which recognises Frogmore’s significance at the municipal level as per the January, 2015 Heritage Advisor’s Recommendation)
As per the reasons outlined in our below posting, Option A was the preferred option for the Petition Organisers, GERA and the community.
The voting pattern was
For: Crs. Sounness, Okotel, Lobo, Delahunty, Esakoff and Magee (and against Option B).
Against: Crs. Pilling, Hyams and Lipshutz (and for Option B).
GERA congratulates Council for this decision and the Petition Organisers for their significant efforts in highlighting the issue and striving for this outcome.
No doubt further efforts, related to providing additional information to Heritage Victoria and preparing for the Planning Amendment Process will again require significant efforts on the part of the Petition Organisers. GERA will continue our support and urges readers and residents to do likewise.
PS. Urging the inclusion of a Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) for the identified, yet again overlooked, significant trees would also be a good idea.
The agenda for the this Tuesday’s (3/2/15) Council Meeting includes item 9.2 – 1 Wahgoo Road Carnegie – Heritage Assessment (2015 02 03 EXTRACT of Council AGENDA and relates to Frogmore House (refer GERA’s previous post).
The Independent Heritage Advisor’s Report (which did not involve an internal or structural review)
- differs from the residents’ submission on when the existing house was built (ie. that the Lyall commissioned working farm and family residence, designed by Joseph Reed (1857) was demolished and rebuilt by Archibald McLaurin – 1880) and also
- differs with Council’s 1996 – 2003 Heritage Survey which although recognising Frogmore’s “local significance” determined that since the building was not within an identified historic area it was not recommended for inclusion the resulting heritage overlay.
- recognises significant vegetation on the property – two Canary Island Palms and one Silky Oak
The organisers of the petition, are appreciative of Council undertaking the reassessment which not only considers the significance of the existing house but also the house’s historical associations and makes the following recommendations and conclusions:
“Frogmore is significant to the locality of Carnegie and Murrumbeena and City of Glen Eira and should be conserved as one of the cultural assets of the city.”
“Frogmore House should be included in the schedule to heritage over lay clause 43.01 by the Glen Eira Planning Scheme”.
With regards the differences in date of construction, the organisers of the petition have advised GERA that additional 1850 – 1860’s documents, contained in the Lyall Family Archives, will be submitted to Heritage Victoria for inclusion in their assessment of Frogmore House. This documentation reportedly includes comments on the house and tower that closely aligns with that which currently exists and, therefore, supports the “linkage” to Lyall and Reed. The documentation also supports their contention that although Archibald McLaurin may have altered the house he did not demolish and rebuild Frogmore. If accepted this documentation emphasises Frogmore House’s significance at the State Level.
OFFICERS REPORT – GERA’s COMMENTS
While GERA still congratulates Council for initiating an Interim Protection Order on Frogmore and undertaking the a professional heritage assessment, GERA is concerned about the comments and recommendations included in the submitted Officer’s Report.
- The Report is not focussed on the key issue of heritage – is Frogmore House of historic significance to Glen Eira and does it warrant heritage protection? The independent heritage assessment clearly identifies the municipal significance of both the house and three trees and recommends heritage protection, by inclusion in the Glen Eira Planning Scheme.
- However rather than focussing on the heritage issues, the Officer’s Report appears to be focussed on
- the differing heritage findings of 1996-2003 Heritage Survey (which did not consider historical associations of the property) vs. the current (February, 2015) heritage assessment (which did consider historical associations) and various mentions of no objections to Frogmore’s exclusion being received in 2003.
- planning issues (eg. land size and proposed land use) which are more appropriately addressed during the planning permit approval process. With regards the Officer’s Report, the analysis associated with these issues is apparently slanted to a total redevelopment of this large (approx. 8,000 sqm) site – the opportunity that a site of this size presents for a redevelopment that incorporates a historically significant house is not mentioned. Likewise, no mention is made of significant trees.
- the site’s recent change of ownership and that the new owner acted in good faith in committing significant funds on the basis of Council’s planning scheme – no mention is made that both the Vendor Purchasers Statement indicate that the proposed sale was conditional upon receiving planning approval or that to date, as per Council’s Planning Applications Register 2,no planning permit application has been received. While changes to the announced conditions of sale are entirely within the rights of the contracting parties, it does raise serious questions re the validity of disadvantage to the purchaser being included in the Officers Report.
- The Officer’s Report gives two options to redress this situation
However, before considering these two options readers should note that within Australia there are three levels of Heritage Protection or Registration, each undertaken by different authorities with varying assessment criteria and focus:
- Australian – National Trust – significance assessed at the National Level
- State – Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council – significance assessed at the State Level
- Local – Local Authorities (Councils) – significance assessed at the Municipal Level
As a general rule, heritage protection works on a “top-down” basis (if a property is significant at the national level then it is also significant at the lower levels) rather than a “bottom-up” basis (if a property is significant at the local level it does not necessarily follow that it is significant at the higher levels).
The two options provided are
Council is then advised that
“If Council favours Option A, the terms of a possible decision would be
That Council request the Minister for Planning to impose interim heritage controls over 1 Wahgoo Road, Carnegie and authorise the exhibition of a planning scheme amendment to place heritage controls over the property.”
Council is then advised that
“If Council favours Option B, the terms of a possible decision would be
- Note the heritage process over the period 1996 to 2003 which provided the appropriate opportunity to put views for or against the heritage status of 1 Wahgoo Road, Carnegie;
- Note that the current owner of the property has acted in good faith and committed significant funds on the basis of Council’s planning scheme; and
- Forwards the attached consultant report to the Heritage Council and agrees to abide by the Heritage Councils decision in this matter.”
GERA believes that Option A should be the preferred option as Heritage Victoria, in response to the previously mentioned residents submissions, will be undertaking an State Level assessment of the property which should include the property’s
- interior and structural conditions
- historical association with Joseph Reed (Architect) and William Lyall (original owner)
Depending on the assessment findings
- If the assessment records the property as being significant at the State Level, then heritage protection will be applicable at both the State and Municipal Level. Thus, the planning scheme amendment process can be halted.
- If the assessment records the property as significant at a Municipal Level rather than at a State Level, that finding should not preclude Council recognising the Heritage Advisor’s Statement of Municipal Significance and enacting a Heritage Overlay on the property. In this case, the planning scheme amendment process would continue
- Readers should note that the planning scheme amendment process, is by the “nature of the beast” and regardless of the request, a lengthy process with varying degrees of certainty. The heritage advisor’s report justifies the amendment and, as such, should reduce the uncertainty mentioned in the Officer’s Report.
- The community consultation, incorporated in the amendment process, ensures that all interested parties (stakeholders) have input into the outcome.
- Not to continue the Planning Scheme amendment, in the light of the Heritage Advisors Report, would give rise to the same criticisms of Council’s heritage management process as those included in the 2011 Independent Planning Panel Report (Amendment C83 – Removal of Heritage Overlay on a Caulfield South property – Cnr. Hawthorn Road and Seaview Street):
- Planning authorities have a responsibility to ensure that planning schemes have a sound basis. There should be good reasons when … expert advice is disregarded but none were provided in this instance. … Council responded to the query from the Panel about why the Council did not accept the expert advice provided by stating that Council may form its own view.
- It would set ‘a dangerous precedent’ if a strategic designation for more intense redevelopment was deemed sufficient justification for removing (or not adding) heritage overlays. The protection of heritage values remains a valid planning consideration in planning decisions.
- The Panel does not accept the argument put by Council that removal of HO114 is justified by the fact that one quite different example of development influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright will be retained and all examples would not be lost. … It is apparent that the Site is a rare example in the locality and its heritage values should be taken into account in future planning decisions.
- Widely spread, unconfirmed rumours indicate this option is recommended by Heritage Victoria.
- Is in line with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) – Councillor Training Program‘s recognition that Questioning and Challenging Officers Reports is an integral part of a Councillors role.
- Both the 2011 Amendment C83 and this current issue indicates a review of the 2003 Heritage Assessments and associated administrative processes are warranted. This is an issue which is not addressed in the Officer’s Report.
GERA and many members believe that this is an unfortunate situation that may involve a significant disadvantage to the purchaser of the 1 Wahgoo Road, Carnegie. Equally, it is also unfortunate that residents were not aware that Frogmore House was not included in the 2003 Heritage Overlay. That being said, it is even more unfortunate that the wording of the Officers Report of the 2003 consultation process (exemplified in Options A and B above) is considered inappropriate and does not reflect the level of responsiveness (frequently claimed by Council) that can reasonably be expected of a Council fully attuned to the dynamic demographic, communication and social changes that have occurred since 2003.