Environment, Resources and Development Committee: Inquiry into Heritage Reform

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:43): I move:

That the first report of the committee, entitled An Inquiry into Heritage Reform, be noted.

I rise today to speak about the first report of the Environment, Resources and Development Committee, entitled An Inquiry into Heritage Reform. Some would say that this is a difficult subject, and I commend all those on my committee and my committee staff for working through the process of this reference.

On 30 July 2018, the Environment, Resources and Development Committee resolved to conduct an inquiry into the current state and potential for reform of local state and national heritage in South Australia. The committee considered a wide range of evidence from 144 written submissions, 29 witnesses and published literature. The committee also visited state and local heritage places and areas in the City of Adelaide council area and in the Adelaide Hills. This inquiry has taken place in the midst of the most significant planning reform South Australia has undertaken for 20 years.

The committee heard from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and the State Planning Commission about proposed changes to the legislation that protects local heritage with the implementation of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. Further, during the final stages of completing this report, the planning minister, the Hon. Stephan Knoll, gazetted the state planning policies and released for public consultation phase 1 of the Planning and Design Code. The issues surrounding built heritage and the processes to protect heritage assets are highly complex with no easy, one-size-fits-all solution.

In its deliberations, the committee tried to ensure that the outcomes that people were keen to see were included in the recommendations but without being too prescriptive on what these processes should look like. The committee also felt that a staged approach to heritage reform, taking into account the planning reform process currently being undertaken, would be most appropriate, enabling the agencies involved to work collaboratively and with flexibility towards achieving desired outcomes.

The committee heard that heritage is important to the community, and the community expects state and local heritage to be protected from demolition and the impacts of undesirable development. The committee also heard that the community wanted a legislative framework that was simple and efficient and that enabled economic benefits to arise from protecting and investing in the state's heritage assets.

The community was also generally unhappy with the confusing and cumbersome sectorial approach to the protection and management of heritage, and was desirous of change. In particular, the committee heard that the challenges and uncertainties about whether transitioning to the Planning and Design Code would result in improvements to processes were expressed by local councils, who unanimously called for greater clarity, consistency, efficiency and responsiveness from the new policy and legislative framework. The committee concluded that:

a strategic and statewide reform of heritage processes and legislation was necessary, and that any proposed reforms to the nominations, assessment and listing processes for state and local heritage must result in places and areas that are protected by appropriate policy and legislative tools;

ongoing collaborative implementation of reforms will be important in providing a future for the protection of heritage in South Australia;

clarity, simplicity, transparency and accountability were important outcomes to achieve in order to increase community and stakeholder confidence in the processes for nominating, assessing and listing state and local heritage, and for certainty in development outcomes;

a stable, long-term funding base for management of heritage that results in a carrot rather than a stick approach to compliance be developed and maintained; and

a review or audit needs to be undertaken, using a statewide collaborative approach to address gaps in the state's heritage listings.

The recommendations in this report highlight the principles and themes expressed in the submissions that called for improvements to the current legislative and policy frameworks. These recommendations are made in the context of providing support to the significant amount of work currently in progress as part of broader planning reforms in South Australia. Specifically, the committee recommended the following:

state government commence a statewide collaborative and strategic approach to heritage reform through development of a staged process, and that any reforms undertaken must result in streamlined, clear and responsive processes and transparent and accountable decision-making;

a statewide strategic approach to identifying heritage of local and state significance, involving the community and interested stakeholders, which is appropriately funded by state government;

an audit or review be undertaken of local and state heritage places and contributory items, with the aim of working collaboratively with community and local government;

a suitable long-term funding base that incentivises management for heritage and disincentivises deliberate neglect of heritage for the management of heritage should be identified and secured; and

sections 67(4) and 67(5) of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act should be repealed.

I wish to thank all those who gave their time to assist the committee with this inquiry. I would like to thank the City of Adelaide; the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure; and SA Heritage, which sits within the Department for Environment and Water, for assisting in the organisation of the committee's two heritage tours.

I also wish to thank the current and former members of the committee: Mr Nick McBride MP, the Hon. John Rau (former member for Enfield), Mr Michael Brown MP, the Hon. John Dawkins MLC, the Hon. Tung Ngo MLC and the Hon. Mark Parnell MLC for their contributions to this report. I would also like to sincerely thank the committee staff, Ms Joanne Fleer and Dr Merry Brown, for their very able assistance. I also acknowledge everyone who assisted us with local and regional tours.

This was a difficult inquiry for a range of reasons. Some of the things we saw on our trips did not make any sense. When we see seven cottages that are essentially identical but four may be identified as heritage listed and three are not, that is why we need more clarity in the process right across the board. We saw situations where the facades of buildings were protected to save the front of the building and its image into the future.

One thing that really came to mind for everyone involved in the sector, whether they were planners, developers or just had an interest in heritage, was the great consensus regarding adaptive re-use. I think it is great that people can see the benefit. We have seen it with the revamp of Old Parliament House and the committee buildings. I think adaptive re-use is the real key to the management of heritage in the future.

Once again, I would like to thank the committee members and staff for their diligent work. I present this report to the parliament.

Mr McBRIDE (MacKillop) (11:52): It gives me great pleasure to follow the Presiding Member of the Environment, Resources and Development Committee (member for Hammond) and speak on heritage matters and this reform. Obviously, I sit on this committee with a number of members, and I enjoyed the experience shared by some of our members, one of whom was the Hon. John Rau (then member for Enfield).

Mr Rau was a committee member during most of the heritage review and he had a lot of experience. I really liked the way he knew this subject very well. He shared his experience and discussed accountability to the issues raised by people who were in favour of heritage and those who were in favour of development. I also shared this responsibility with the Hon. Tung Ngo and the Hon. John Dawkins. When John Rau left us, he was replaced by Michael Brown MP (member for Playford), but I do not think Mr Brown took part in this heritage review because he came along later.

I would also like to thank the two staffers, Ms Joanne Fleer and Dr Merry Brown, for their help and assistance, and for their guidance on the heritage tours we took around Adelaide and up to the Adelaide Hills. The committee report was constructed very well, and I thank them both for their assistance.

One of the things I realised about the issue of heritage, which was particularly mentioned by developers, was that no-one likes surprises. Even for those who own an old building and may have done so for many years, a surprise heritage agreement over their building, their land or their assets was not tolerated; it was seen as an issue and a problem. From a developer perspective, a bigger aspect was if a developer looked at a proposal involving an old building and it was never known where this building sat in heritage or what the rules and implications were.

For those who spoke in favour of heritage, wanting to see heritage for some of our oldest buildings right across our suburbs preserved, it was noted that some buildings fell into the heritage category, and they were very pleased about that, but other buildings did not. Some of these buildings could stand right alongside each other, look exactly the same and may even be the same age and type, but there would be two or three buildings that were heritage and two or three buildings that were not.

I can understand the frustration of both parties. I think if one thing came out of this report, it was that everyone wanted to see consistency and transparency in heritage. I think both parties—those in favour of heritage and those in favour of development—would work together if those two aspects were actually constructed, developed and taken further, based on this report and the information we received.

Another thing that was noted was a building that was fit for purpose; both parties were interested in this, but it was probably a little bit greyer to those who were in favour of heritage. We heard from the Chair of the Environment, Resources and Development Committee that he had a hotel in his local area, which was an old hotel like hotels can be, and the owners wanted to develop it into a new, modern facility that was more enticing for patronage, and the heritage agreement did nothing but stall that development and make it really hard for the owners.

This was commonplace in the sense that, when heritage was talked about in development, fit for purpose for old buildings came to the fore. It even got to the point that, if the building was not fit for purpose, the facade of a building was protected but nothing else beyond that. Those who were advocating for heritage thought that was disastrous, but the developers said that they were very much in favour of that sort of outcome but that it was still quite onerous and expensive to work through. But it did happen.

That shows the way development can manoeuvre its way around building and developing further forward but using older buildings to keep the appearance and appeal of street landscapes with heritage buildings on them. It was a privilege to be part of this review. I think everyone did a terrific job, and I note the review.

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:57): I rise to conclude the discussion into the first report of the Environment, Resources and Development Committee, entitled 'An inquiry into heritage reform'. I want to note briefly a comment by the member for MacKillop regarding the issues we had relating to developing the Bridgeport Hotel. I have seen some of the original diagrams and photographs of the Bridgeport Hotel in the main street of Murray Bridge. It was a fantastic place, but it was butchered throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties with poor development outcomes.

Looking at the development of the site now, it might have been a bonus for the people who are going to redevelop it and build a new six-storey, $40 million, 4½ star development with 99 rooms in my electorate. That will be absolutely magnificent for everything else that is going on in Hammond, but there will be a bit more on that later today.

This was a very important inquiry. There was a lot of passion, no matter where anyone sat on this debate. Like a lot of things, there has to be a little bit of compromise, a little bit of give and a little bit of take. Let's hope that, as the department for environment and heritage and the Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure work through the process, we get a system in place that makes it simple for everyone, whether it be developers, individuals or people at a local government level, and that we get the outcomes we deserve in preserving heritage for future generations while also allowing appropriate development around that.

In closing, I again would like to thank the staff of the committee, Joanne Fleer and Dr Merry Brown, for their vital contribution and their work in putting the report together and making sure that we have good photo shots of the members of the committee in the report. I give the report to the parliament.

Motion carried.