SAVE FROGMORE – 9/6/2015 OFFICERS REPORT (Part 5)

Following on from our request for residents’ assistance in lobbying Councillors not to vote for the recommendations included in the Officer’s Report, ie.

  • abandoning Planning Scheme Amendment C137 to apply a Local (Municipal) Level Heritage Overlay (HO154) on Frogmore House (1 Wahgoo Street, Carnegie).
  • withdrawing the request to the Minister for interim local heritage controls over the land (Amendment 136)

this posting will focus on the rationale, presented in that report, for the above recommendations.

When Councillors vote on the above recommendations they will be voting to either retain or overturn their 3/2/2015 decision to preserve Frogmore.  They need to ask themselves four questions

  • Is Frogmore House worthy of heritage protection at the local (municipal) level?
    • The Council commissioned 2015 independent heritage advisor’s local (municipal) level assessment says it is.  Nothing has occurred to change that assessment.
    • The Heritage Council of Victoria (the governing body of Heritage Victoria) has recommended that Council applies local heritage overlay on Frogmore
      • Addendum (added 9/6/2015) – Please note, the above comment was based on residents’ advice related to their discussions with Heritage Victoria as to the Heritage Council of Victoria’s 4/6/2015 decision. Subsequent advice (received from Cr. Hyams) states that “I have been informed that Heritage Victoria is recommending to Council that we consider applying the local heritage overlay to Frogmore, not that we apply it.”Given the above differing versions, we now believe that any decision made, prior to receipt and review of written advice from the Heritage Council, would be premature.
    • The National Trust has advised that the Trust will be making a similar recommendation for Council to apply a local heritage overlay.
  • Is the preservation of Frogmore consistent with the objectives of the both the Glen Eira Planning Scheme and State Government’s planning objectives
    • Council’s Planning Scheme (Clause 21.10) includes
      • Protecting places identified as having architectural, cultural or historical significance.
      • Ensuring sympathetic redevelopment and renovation of areas and places identified as having architectural, cultural or historic significance in the municipality.
      • Enhance knowledge and popular understanding of Glen Eira’s architectural, cultural and historic heritage.
    • the objectives of planning for Victoria (as identified in the Planning and Environment Act 1987) of
      • Conserving and enhancing those buildings, areas or other places which are of scientific, aesthetic, architectural or historical interest, or otherwise of special cultural value; and
      • Balancing the present and future interests of all Victorians.
  • Does the Officer’s Report present sound reasons in support of its recommendation to abandon local level heritage controls? These reasons are presented the reports Section 8 – Basis for Recommendation .

GERA believes that the Officer’s Report does not present sound reasons in support of it’s recommendations by

.  not recognising or emphasising the findings and recommendation of the Independent Heritage Advisors’ Local Level Assessment of Frogmore

.  “blurring” the boundaries between Local and State Level Heritage Protection+.

.  not considering that the Glen Eira Planning Scheme provides for both heritage retention and re-development to meet community needs.

+On 3rd February 2015, Councillors voted to “Initiate a heritage protection process”  and by doing so did not support an alternative proposal to “Not re-open the heritage issue at a municipal level but abide by whatever decision is made by the Heritage Council”.   Consequently, the resulting Planning Scheme Amendments (C136 and C137) relates to Local Level Heritage Protection and not State Level Heritage Protection*.  Heritage Victoria’s finding not to recognise Frogmore’s significance at the State level is simply not relevant to any discussion on Frogmore’s significance at the local level.

  • How best can I represent residents?

By

.  not supporting the Officer’s recommendations and allowing the planning process to run its due course in accordance with the planning scheme, and thereby

.  Ensuring that a good planning outcome is achieved by recognising that both heritage and redevelopment can co-exist.  A good planning outcome is not one that forgoes heritage to provide for redevelopment maximisation.

Section 8 – Basis for Recommendation

  • No additional heritage consultant assessments have been provided by any party since the amendment was exhibited”

We are struggling to understand how this can be considered a reason for recommending abandoning the local level heritage protection process – a local level heritage assessment has been undertaken and recomends heritage protection.

In addition, Council has received a recommendation from Heritage Victoria to apply a local Heritage Overlay to Frogmore and, if not already received will shortly be receiving, a similar recommendation from the National Trust.

Residents are wondering how many assessments recommending heritage protection are required by Council.

  •  “The 2015 assessment (Graeme Butler Report) found 1 Wahgoo Road, Carnegie should be included in the heritage overlay because of its link to early developers of the city, a former Councilor and the son of the architect of the Caulfield Town Hall”.

 “Associations” (ie. links to the life, or works, of a person or group/s of persons) is a valid factor in determining heritage significance. “Associations” is one of many factors included in heritage criteria used by the National Trust, Heritage Victoria and Council.

 However, to imply that the 2015 recommendation was made because of it’s link to early developers of the city, a former Councillor and the one of the architect of the Caulfield Town Hall” diminishes the substance/content of that assessment.

The 2015 Frogmore assessment includes

  • a detailed local level heritage assessment of Frogmore based on
    • Glen Eira’s 1996 Heritage Management Plan (insert link) which is the document referenced by clause 21.10 of the Glen Eira Planning Scheme
    • Heritage Victoria’s Heritage Assessment Criteria. (insert link)
  • a comparison of Frogmore with other properties in Glen Eira.

In summary, the 2015 assessment determined that Frogmore was significant due to

  • Historic Significance – demonstrates pattern of settlement and growth of the Municipality development and the dominance of pastoral activities into the early 1900’s.
  • Rarity – As a late 1880’s former farm residence, Frogmore is rare within Glen Eira where other surviving Victorian-era building stock were residences of professional Melbourne City workers and are not associated with working farms.
  • Aesthetics – Architectural design and features (diachromatic brick work, diachromatic tower and verandahs)
  • Associations – with the achievements, cultural and spiritual associations of
    • All owners, in particular
      • William Lyall (remote association) reknowned pastoralist noted for innovative animal husbandry and pasture planting
      • Archibald McLauren (significant association), a pioneering pastoralist, notable in two colonies (NSW and Port Phillip) who is attributed with commissioning the design and construction of Frogmore.
    • Eminent Architect Sydney W. Smith
      • Frogmore House was designed by Sydney W. Smith (son of architect Sydney William Smith who designed Caulfield Town Hall) early in his long and distinguished career.
      • No other known example of Sydney W. Smith’s 1880’s work directly parallels the design. Of the buildings designed by the Smith’s, only the Caulfield Town Hall (father) and Frogmore House (son) survive in Glen Eira.
  •  Frogmore circa 1920 title
    • Condition – The condition of the building is good.
    • The original features of the house remain largely intact
      • Except for one, all building alterations (i.e. newer building annexes which tend to obscure the view of Frogmore and are excluded from the the proposed heritage overlay) have been largely superficial.
      • Residents have also commented that the buildings continued usage as an aged care facility until December, 2014, indicates that Frogmore’s structural condition is sound and internally is well maintained.
  • A number of submitters believe that the former house is the work of Architect JosephReed. The Executive Director of Heritage Victoria report concludes that it is the work of Sydney W Smith. The report states that “Frogmore is an early design by Melbourne architect Sydney W Smith. Smith’s work is well-represented in the VHR. Frogmore is not an outstanding or notable example of Smith’s work.” … and …” An assessment by the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria has established that it does not meet the any of the criteria for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria’s Interim Protection Order over the land was not renewed and expired on the 19th May 2015”

Both of the above comments relate to State Level, rather than Local Level, Heritage Protection and as such they have little, or no, bearing on Planning Scheme Amendments C136 and C137.

  • The Minister for Planning has, to date, not responded to Council’s request of 4th February to place an interim heritage control over the land.

Rather than providing a basis to abandon the request, this is a reason for “follow-up”, particularly as the Interim Protection Order applied by Heritage Victoria expired on 17th May, 2015.

  • “The eight criteria (A to H) used to assess Heritage significance is the same for the State Government as it is for Local Government.   The difference is in the context that they are applied.   For State significance, a place or object is compared against other throughout Victoria, at the “State level”. For this planning scheme amendment proposing permanent controls, 1 Wahgoo Road, Carnegie needs to be considered in the context of the municipality, at the local level”

As well as highlighting that the above identifies Planning Scheme Amendment C137 as being a local (Municipal) level heritage control, we also highlight that 1 Wahgoo Road (ie. Frogmore) was considered within the context of the municipality by the Council commissioned Independent Heritage Advisor’s Assessment.   That assessment considered Frogmore’s heritage significance in it’s own right and via a comparison with other properties in Glen Eira.   Frogmore was considered to significantly meet 5 of the 8 heritage criteria, hence the conclusion and recommendation was

“Frogmore House is significant to the City of Glen Eira historically and aesthetically … 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”.

  • The City of Glen Eira Heritage Management Plan assessed it at the local level, in the context of the municipality. It was assigned a “C” grading. It did not recommend it for permanent heritage protection.
  • The 1996 City of Glen Eira Heritage Management Plan as it pertains to Frogmore should be superseded by the Independent Heritage Advisor’s Local Level Heritage Assessment.
  • During the 1996-2003 Municipal Heritage Assessment Frogmore was excluded from Heritage Protection as it was not located “within an identified heritage area”. Such a criteria is questionable since it can be argued that the heritage value of a building is enhanced, not diminished, by it’s stand-alone location
  • The 1996 Heritage Management and the results of 1996-2003 Municipal Heritage Assessment are now over a decade old. Given the changes in social attitudes and demography that have occurred in that decade, Council should consider undertaking another Municipal Heritage Assessment.
  • “In the absence of any heritage controls, a planning permit will still be required to re-develop the site. This will involve a public notice process and the ability to lodge objections. Any decision of Council can also be challenged at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal”
  • Council is reminded that without any permanent heritage controls, the planning permit approval process does not ensure the preservation of heritage – under the Glen Eira Planning Scheme, unless permanent or interim controls are in place, a demolition permit may be issued without first obtaining planning permit approval.  This evidenced by Council’s (January, 2015) initiation of interim protection order on Frogmore.
  • Heritage protection and Planning Permit Approval Process are two separate components of planning
    • Local Heritage Controls – Protects places identified as having architectural, cultural or historical significance at the local level.
    • Planning Permit Approval Process – Ensures sympathetic redevelopment and renovation of areas and places identified as having architectural, cultural or historic significance in the municipality.

 GERA COMMENTS

We believe our above comments substantiate our recommendation to

  • not support the Officer’s “Abandon” and “Withdraw” recommendations, and
  • support proceeding with the heritage protection process as included in Planning Scheme Amendments C136 (Interim Protection) and C137 (Permanent Protection).

Such a decision would be in line with

  • Council’s responsibility to ensure that planning schemes have a sound basis and that good reasons should be provide when expert advice is disregarded.
  • Council’s Planning Scheme – Clause 21.10 (surprisingly, not mentioned in Section 8 – Basis for Recommendation)
  • The planning objectives identified in the Victorian Planning and Environment Act 1987 (surprisingly, not mentioned in Section 8 – Basis for Recommendation)
  • due planning processes

We again stress to Councillors that, even though the Planning Scheme discourages Aged Care Facilities in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone, residents are not opposed to the continued use of the site for Residential Aged Care. However, residents are opposed to a planning outcome that does not recognise that on large sites such as Frogmore, good design enables

  • heritage retention without preventing redevelopment and
  • redevelopment without the loss of recognised heritage assets.

 Please also note that that the Officer’s Report (in its summary of the objection responses) refers to Social and Economic benefits (a.ka. Net Community Benefit or NCB) outweighing Heritage Value, so we re-iterate our earlier planning conference comments that

  • the Glen Eira community, with accredited professional heritage advice and after a detailed community review of proposed development plans, is the appropriate body to decide what constitutes N CB and
  • the arithmetic equation presented at the planning conference was
    • simplistic (ie being solely based on the difference between what could be built if Frogmore is not retained vs. what could be built if Frogmore is retained – NCB = 120 residential aged care beds – 60 residential aged care beds)
    • Assigned a zero value to heritage preservation.   This is contrary to well established planning principles that recognise and value heritage retention – such a valuation should be undertaken by accredited professionals and the results may outweigh the NCB value of 60 beds.  
    • No detailed substantiation for the upper (120 bed) or lower (60 bed) limits

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Footnote:

 Within Australia there are three levels of Heritage Protection or Registration, in line with the three tiers of government, each level of assessment is undertaken by different authorities.

Although, each level uses similar assessment criteria, the scope of their review varies in accordance with the level of the assessment:

  • Australian – National Trust – significance assessed at the National Level eg. building the stock is assessed by comparison with other buildings in Australia.
  • State – Heritage Victoria and the Heritage Council – significance assessed at the State Level eg. the building stock comparative assessment is restricted to Victoria
  • Local – Local Authorities (Councils) – significance assessed at the Municipal Level, eg. the building stock comparative assessment is restricted to the Municipality.

Under this structure, the way people live is recognised by enabling protection for local icons.

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