On Wednesday 8th May ECAG held its Annual General Meeting. With around 120-150 attending, it was a great turnout and the audience listened with interest to the President give a quick rundown on the past year and then to the two guest speakers.
Chad Griffiths is a past resident and past Nillumbik Council employee with 13 years experience of planning at Nillumbik. Chad spoke on the planning control history of the two Main Road sites.
- Main message was that the community needs to continue to be actively involved in these community owned assets.
- The old Shire Office site has a chequered history and was the downfall of numerous councils.
- The emphasis from previous attempts at zoning planning schemes etc was to protect it from developers and to allow any development to be community driven.
- Main problem was and still is, that the community hasn’t been able to achieve a consensus on its use. Community use should be first and anything left over then considered for commercial use, not commercial use first with the left over for community.
- The State Government stated that around transport and larger shopping areas there should be planning zones called Major or Regional Activity centre. The tradeoff for an activity centre was to be able to protect the rest of Eltham. This concept still stands and community must fight to uphold this.
Andrew Lemon is a resident, former president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and an ex board member of the Heritage Council. Andrew spoke on the Heritage listing process.
- The original Eltham Second World War Memorial Site on Main Road was purchased from the Shillinglaw farm in 1945 for the specific purpose of creating a children’s services precinct in a garden setting in the heart of the town of Eltham, near the railway station.
- The whole of the children’s precinct was evidently designed in keeping with the 1940s Shire Offices, together making a statement that here was the community’s town centre of Eltham.
- A key section of the Main Road frontage since 2012 has been occupied by the Eltham War Memorial obelisk in a small memorial garden, occupying much of the frontage of the Second World War Memorial. This was not part of the original 1945 concept. So the site has been severely compromised.
- A Council with a different set of attitudes came to power in 2016, eyeing off town assets such as public open space in various parts of the Shire, created long ago by the community, that could now be sold off to build a fund for other projects on their wish list.
- Too many people have tended to see this site as some sort of old-fashioned eyesore that needs to be redeveloped. I hope I have begun to show why this view is wrong-headed. I have also tried to explain how important it is that we keep faith with those who created this community memorial, for all the best reasons, as they emerged from the calamity of the Second World War.
So what happens in the Heritage process? There are several steps.
STEP ONE: Already completed: individuals, with the blessing of ECAG, nominated the site and buildings, which involved a detailed formal application to Heritage Victoria. Nomination forms include a long check list that sets out criteria for successful registration – one or more of these criteria must be met if the matter is to be advanced. Nomination of the war memorial site was accepted, that is to say received, late last year and, under the Act, the owner was officially advised.
There are a further possible 7 steps to finalisation of the process.
You can read Andrew’s full presentation here: Andrew Lemon’s Presentation
You can listen to the AGM here.