2022 Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into heritage protections

In 2020, the Planning and Environment Committee of the Legislative Council established a Parliamentary Inquiry into the adequacy of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and the Victorian Planning Framework.  

Heritage protection is a key area of investigation. Under the Terms of Reference, the Committee sought submissions on a broad range of issues including fairness in planning decisions, and the adequacy of heritage protections in Victoria.

In March, the National Trust was notified that the Legislative Council’s Environment and Planning Committee has decided not to conduct public hearings as part of the current Parliamentary Inquiry into Protections Within the Victorian Planning Framework, due to insufficient time reamaining in this term of Parliament. Read our full statement on the announcement here.

UPDATE: National Trust responds to Interim Report

On 2 August 2022, Chair of the Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee, Sonja Terpstra MP, tabled the Committee's interim report in Parliament. The Committee made only one recommendation - that a full inquiry be undertaken at the beginning of the next parliament to ensure that the issues raised in the terms of reference can be given due consideration. National Trust CEO Simon Ambrose responded:

“Victoria has a rich, vibrant heritage represented by places, landscapes, stories, and people that make a vital contribution to our communities. Heritage is also a key economic driver for Victoria through development and tourism, and retaining and repurposing heritage buildings plays an important role in building climate change resilience.  

“The Parliamentary Inquiry’s interim report paints a damning picture of the gaps in our planning system which are leading to the destruction of our heritage and green infrastructure, to the detriment of current and future generations. 

“At the root of these issues is a lack of understanding of the value of heritage, continued inaction, and an ongoing failure by successive state governments to adequately resource the management of Victoria’s heritage by government and private owners.  

“Put simply, leadership and resourcing at all levels does not reflect the value of heritage to the community, the value of heritage to the economy and employment, and its capacity to contribute to sustainable development. 

“The National Trust calls on the Premier and Opposition leader, and all candidates standing for election in November, to support a full inquiry in 2023, and immediate action on strengthening heritage protections.” 

Download the Committee’s interim report here

Our message to Parliament

Victoria has a rich, vibrant heritage represented by places, landscapes, stories, and people that make a vital contribution to our communities. Our heritage places contribute to our identity, creating a sense of place and representing the State’s story, its people and its shared connections. Heritage is also a key economic driver for Victoria through development and tourism. From buildings to landscapes, historic routes to historic precincts, trees to shipwrecks—the heritage of Victoria is important, and is valued by communities and visitors.

While Victoria has a mature system of heritage protections through the Victorian planning framework, with increased development pressures, the impacts of climate change, and an increased emphasis on streamlining planning approvals, some major cracks are showing, and must be addressed as a matter of priority to prevent the loss of our cherished heritage places.

At the root of these issues is a lack of understanding of the value of heritage, and lack of leadership at all levels. The major issues confronting the protection and celebration of our heritage are well known and well documented, and have been interrogated through numerous reviews and inquiries. They grace the pages of newspapers across Victoria every day. The core problem is continued inaction, and an ongoing failure by successive state governments to adequately resource the management of Victoria’s heritage by government and private owners. Put simply, leadership and resourcing at all levels does not reflect the value of heritage to the community, the value of heritage to the economy and employment, and its capacity to contribute to sustainable development.

This Inquiry presents an opportunity to work towards stronger protections, and better outcomes for government, councils, the owners and managers of heritage places and, most importantly, communities. The National Trust has put forward practical and achievable solutions to strengthen and improve the planning system and support the role of heritage to contribute to vibrant and prosperous communities. 

Call to action section

Read Our Submission

Read the National Trust's submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Protections Within the Victorian Planning Scheme

More

National Trust and Australia ICOMOS survey

 

In January 2022, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and Australia ICOMOS partnered on a survey to seek feedback on heritage protections in Victoria. The survey has now closed, and the results have informed the submissions of the National Trust and Australia ICOMOS to the Parliamentary Inquiry.