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    Canberra's national heritage listing an unnecessary burden: Property Council

    Geraldine Chua

    Heritage experts are pushing for Canberra to be recognised on the National Heritage List, but the Property Council of Australia says it would only add another layer of bureaucracy and more ‘green tape’ for Canberrans.

    According to the council’s ACT Executive Director, Catherine Carter, a heritage listing would “not provide any additional recognition or protection of heritage qualities or values” beyond those already recognised in existing statutory planning documents and legislation.

    “Heritage listing would impose potentially onerous and costly referral and approval requirements on development, and duplicate existing approval processes,” Carter (pictured left) says. 

    “A National Heritage listing would also encourage NIMBYism – creating an additional avenue through which vexatious or frivolous objections to development could be made. The impact would increase the costs and reduce the viability of development.”

    Photo: Rohan Thomson. Source: Canberra Times

    She adds that putting Canberra on the National Heritage listing could also impose further hurdles on property investment and lead to “economic strangulation” in certain parts of the local economy.

    The Property Council’s stance echoes that of ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who in May wrote to the Federal Environmental Minister Greg Hunt asking him to reject the listing submission to prevent additional “regulatory burden” from being imposed, and business confidence and investment from taking a hit.

    “Canberra's special place as the capital is already more than adequately protected through the oversight of the NCA and our own planning rules," said Barr, who earlier this year criticised the Heritage Council for protecting half of an old 1950s public housing estate in Northbourne Avenue, Canberra.

    However, the eight heritage experts – including four former Heritage Council chairmen – have rejected Barr’s argument that Canberra is adequately protected, The Canberra Times reports.

    Former chairman of the ACT Heritage Council Duncan Marshall: National heritage listing important for Canberra and for the credibility of the list. Photo: Jay Cronan. Source: Canberra Times

    “Probably most existing national heritage places are protected by state or territory provisions. But if the ACT government argument was accepted, it would establish a precedent which could dramatically undermine the National Heritage List. To oppose any listing, all that would be required is to argue that there is adequate protection provided by another jurisdiction,” the experts argue.

    “If Canberra is already protected, surely the assumption would be that there will be no meaningful impact arising from National Heritage listing. In any event, if there is a problem with business confidence associated with a possible listing, then one reasonable course is for the ACT government to help allay any concerns.”

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