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Heritage has become increasingly Litigious, Mysterious and Flaccid

I have been practicing as a heritage architect in NSW for the last 30 years and during that time, I have witnessed a number of changes which I discuss below.
CENTRALISATION – First of all, under the NSW Liberal government, there has been a tendency in the last number of years for State government to become more and more centralised and in the process, to disempower local government thus depleting it of the necessary resources, skills and funding that it needs to process DAs and especially DAs that entail a heritage component.

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Heritage Disconnect

Dr. Robyn Clinch (see reference below) writes that there is a considerable disconnect between the theoretical education of potential heritage practitioners and those whose task it is to process heritage applications for proposed developments involving heritage buildings. This is especially the case in Australian planning jurisdictions. Although there are excellent theoretical principles that underpin practice by heritage professionals, the implementation of these practices, in reality, relies upon mechanistic and autonomous controls on the part of planning apparatchiks whose knowledge is not necessarily aligned with ever-shifting heritage orthodoxies. Nor should they necessarily be. I will come back to this point in just a moment.

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Unlisted Heritage Items – Erring on the Side of Caution

Most countries, regions and states utilise heritage listing as a means of protecting heritage assets, but many of these lists are faulty, omissive, repetitive or incomplete. Quite often, as a cultural heritage advisor, I have come across buildings in conservation areas that are un-listed, yet they possess vary rare and distinctive fabric. Likewise, I come across many buildings that are neither listed nor in conservation areas that should be listed but are blatantly not. Who keeps tabs on this and who decides to list buildings in the first place?
In NSW, we have a complex system of cultural heritage listing. Most of the items are locally listed. Some are state-listed; a few are listed on the Commonwealth Heritage Register and even less on the National Heritage Register. In Australia, we have 18 World Heritage listings (UNESCO); three of which are buildings and places – the rest being of natural heritage significance.

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What a Heritage Professional Needs to Know

In accordance with the Draft Guidelines for Education and Training – Practical Instructions for Practitioners, the ICOMOS International Training Committee put forward in October 2012, a number of professional attributes that heritage practitioners need to have. Fig. 1 – Heritage houses in Woolloomooloo, NSW – Australia Education and training for conservation should produce conservation practitioners…

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Heritage Community Action

In regard to cultural built heritage, who and what is the community? Is it confined to people who live in a heritage area or is it the greater public

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