The Repurposing of Heritage Buildings – Skill or Stealth?

In Tasmania, arguably some of Australia’s oldest historic and heritage protected buildings have long enjoyed quite rightful protection from ‘Developers’ and repurposing.

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This would appear to be not the case anymore. The Tasmanian Government is currently undertaking an ‘Expressions of Interest’ on the historic Treasury Buildings complex. The complex was earmarked ‘for sale’ in the 2018 State Budget.

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The Treasury Buildings were constructed over a period of 130 years, with the original buildings being erected in 1824. Every component building of the complex has since been clad in local Sandstone.

For a better understanding of what the Treasury Buildings complex consists of, please consider this decision by Heritage Tasmania. Currently the buildings are publicly owned.

Treasury Complex’s Heritage Values Recognised

Treasury Building Hobart

The Tasmanian Heritage Council has initiated a process to better define the historic cultural heritage values of Hobart’s iconic Treasury complex.

‘The Heritage Council is pleased to announce the provisional replacement entry of the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings in the Tasmanian Heritage Register and seek input on this entry after an extensive assessment process’ said Ms Brett Torossi, Chair of the Tasmanian Heritage Council.

‘In making the decision to provisionally enter the Treasury Complex in the Heritage Register, the Heritage Council was conscious of recognising the critical role it has played in shaping the Tasmania over the 19th and 20th Centuries. It was also keen to respond to the Tasmanian Government’s announcement of its plans to release the complex for an alternate use and give interested members of the Tasmanian community the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed entry’.

The Treasury Complex and Public Buildings occupies a prominent block within the city centre of Hobart. It includes a group of eight adjoining and interconnected buildings, principally constructed across the approximately 130 years from 1824 to 1957, as well as the former HEC Substation on the corner of Murray and Davey Streets. The complementary styles and scales of the complex’s buildings, most of which are clad in locally quarried sandstone, give them a strong degree of unity.

Across the 19th and 20th centuries, the complex conveyed an impression of state power and authority. During the early colonial period housed the centralised administration of core government functions within the convict society of Van Diemen’s Land. The Treasury Complex and Public Buildings has been at the centre of Tasmania’s judicial, political and administrative life from the 1820s until the present day, and is of exceptional historic cultural heritage significance.

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At the time the Tasmanian Government announced The Treasury Divestment Project in 2018, the Treasury Complex was recognised as being of historic cultural heritage significance to Tasmania by two entries in the Tasmanian Heritage Register. These entries were for the Public Buildings adjacent to Franklin Square (THR #2468) and the Franklin Square Office Complex (THR# 2516).

In order to better define the heritage values of the Treasury Complex and ensure they are recognised and effectively managed into the future, the Heritage Council decided to create a single, comprehensive, consolidated replacement entry for the Treasury Complex, inclusive of its buildings, sub-surface values and curtilage. As a result of this effort, a new entry for the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings (THR#11734) was provisionally entered in the Heritage Register on 10 December 2019, under provisions contained in Part 4 of the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995.

This provisional replacement entry is now open for public consultation. Members of the public have 60-days in which to lodge submissions or objections to the entry of this place on the Heritage Register. This is part of the statutory process required under Part 4 of the Heritage Act.

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This process is a two-stage process that entails: the provisional entry of a place in the Heritage Register, written advice to the property owner/s and the local planning authority, a 60-day public consultation period at least 21 days later; and a final decision on the permanent entry of the place by the Heritage Council, with an appeal process available to anyone that lodges a submission.

This public consultation process commences on 8 January 2020 and closes on 8 March 2020. A decision on the permanent entry is expected to be made before the end of April 2020. The Heritage Council’s decision will take into consideration any submissions or objections received.

‘I encourage anyone with an interest in the Treasury Complex and Public Buildings to review the new provisional replacement entry on our website and provide us with their feedback.’ For a copy of the provisional replacement entry click here.

Source: heritage.tas.gov.au

It can be deduced that sections of the Tasmanian Government simply view the historical buildings as an excellent piece of CBD real estate that a profit can be turned on. Equally there are many people Australia-wide who believe these buildings should remain a public asset and be carefully protected.

Heritage Tasmania is calling for submissions and/or objections to its new provisional Heritage Entry on the buildings in question.

Here is the link to that provisional entry for your due consideration and comment.

This type of approach as being adopted by the Tasmanian Government will become far more commonplace as elected representatives look to sell off Government Assets to provide significant financial windfalls.

From the Advocate Newspaper…

Investors sought for historic Tasmanian Treasury building

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Investors are being sought to outline their vision for Hobart’s historic Treasury building.

Finance Minister Michael Ferguson said it was important prospective investors were able to undertake due diligence on the site before presenting a concept plan that aligned with the project objectives agreed with the community.

He said investors had until April 2 to outline the social economic and environmental contribution their proposals would make.

“Proponents will be expected to highlight their experience and capacity to deliver a project of this scale and heritage significance, consistent with the new Treasury Complex and Public Buildings Conservation Management Plan,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The CMP, which has been finalised in close consultation with Heritage Tasmania and the City of Hobart, and a survey, are available on the website.

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“The survey seeks feedback on whether this comprehensive CMP addresses the issues the community would want the document to cover, and future uses that may be proposed.”

Heritage Tasmania is also undertaking separate public consultations until March 8, 2020, on a single consolidated heritage entry that covers the Treasury buildings, sub-surface values and curtilage, to better define their heritage value.

The historic Treasury building was earmarked for sale by the Tasmanian Government in the 2018 budget.

Source: theadvocate.com.au

A similar article appeared in the Launceston Examiner.

The Tasmanian Treasury building complex is not just a Tasmanian treasure, it is a National Heritage treasure.

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“Re-imagining” seems like a metaphor for “redevelop” to us. It has already been determined the buildings are not suitable for a Hotel.

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Perhaps the Tasmanian Government could look to Victoria for inspiration. The old Customs House in Flinders St has been converted into the Immigration Museum, providing an excellent educational resource for thousands of visitors, schoolchildren and the many, many migrants who have made Australia home. It remains a public building.

And so should the old Hobart Treasury Buildings, an integral part of Australia’s colonial history, a genuine component of this Nation’s heritage and beginnings. Re-imagine that.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

One thought on “The Repurposing of Heritage Buildings – Skill or Stealth?

  1. Pingback: Heritage Protection – the challenge is financial. | Balance Architecture

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