Ballarat City Council plan to preserve heritage

MORE carrots and bigger sticks are part of a wide-ranging strategy to promote the conservation of heritage houses and other buildings in Ballarat.The Preserving Our Heritage Strategy was developed by the Ballarat City Council because of concerns about instances of "demolition by neglect" of heritage-significant buildings in the city. The package will be considered by the council at a meeting tomorrow night.If adopted, it would give the green light for the council to introduce more incentives and enforcement of planning laws to promote heritage preservation.Among the carrots are the possible waiving or discounting of fees for some works up to $100,000 in residential zones. The fee is currently $232, for works from $10,000 to $250,000 for commercial zones.Simple planning applications that do not require referral to a heritage adviser could be fast-tracked to a 14-day turn-around.A "street of the year" scheme, similar to the Tidy Towns program, could be instigated to encourage efforts to maintain heritage areas.The sticks include a possible strengthening of local laws so clean-up orders can be issued at the council's discretion against heritage properties that have been left to rot, and more resources to enforce orders.The strategy would commit the council to setting an example by ensuring council-owned heritage buildings are maintained and that uses are found for vacant buildings.The report said such activity would help educate the public about the value of heritage.Other short-term activities recommended by the report include the promotion of the council's heritage advisory service and the holding of a forum for architects, draftsmen and developers on what the council is seeking in heritage areas.The report said the strategy aims to conserve local heritage for future generations and make sure policy, planning and funding decisions are underpinned by heritage principles.

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