Asset Sales, Development, and Good / Bad Reasons for Heritage Listing [Part 1 of 2]

At this Tuesday’s council meeting we will be voting on whether or not the Killara Bowling Club and Killara Lawn Tennis Club Sites should be established as a proposed heritage item (GB13). What does this mean? When a property is heritage listed, it’s usually a limited or unique asset which we aim to safeguard so that present and future generations can learn and benefit from it. The property is then recognised under law, a stricter standard and approvals process is applied for development on the site, and the government provides extra support for heritage owners to upkeep their site in the form of grants, reduced council rates and reduced taxes. And in this particular case, I personally believe the site should receive such protections.

How do we decide what to heritage list and what not to heritage list? Heritage experts usually assess a potential site based on eight criteria. These are:

  1. Importance to cultural or natural history
  2. Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of our cultural or natural history
  3. Potential to yield information to contribute to our understanding of our cultural or natural history
  4. Ability to demonstrate principal characteristics of a cultural or natural place or environment
  5. Ability to exhibit particular aesthetic characteristics
  6. Importance in demonstrating a creative or technical achievement at a particular period
  7. Special association with a particular community or cultural group (including indigenous)
  8. Special association with the life or works of a person or group of persons important to our history

Heritage listings occur quite regularly at Ku-ring-gai but what I’ve found these four years is that proponents of heritage listing are often advocating heritage listing for the wrong reasons. Their reasons are not the eight criteria mentioned above, rather, they are using heritage listing as a proxy for preventing further development and congestion. And in the case of the Killara Bowling and Lawn Tennis Club Sites I’ve certainly met some residents who are using heritage as a proxy for anti-development (there’s also some internal drama within and between the two sporting clubs).

My job as a councillor is to vote on heritage listing based on the eight criteria above and my feelings regarding development, traffic congestion, internal political dramas, etc. are not relevant. So in this particular case of Killara Bowls/Tennis, based on the information available to me, I do think that the site meets the threshold for Local heritage listing (but not State, National or World). How will the other councillors vote on Tuesday? We will find out soon.

Council Decisions / Policy