Heritage Week

April 15th, 2011

What is heritage week?

Heritage week runs from Thursday 14th until Wednesday 20th of April and is a celebration of the sense of place, community and personal well-being that heritage can provide. The new annual national celebration is an initiative of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and encourages communities to get involved by showcasing their unique local heritage to the rest of the country.

The special day also offers an opportunity to raise public awareness concerning the diversity of the world’s heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as to draw attention to its vulnerability. Construction companies can do their bit by understanding exactly what is classified as heritage, and how to minimise impact on this important element of our national identity.

What to consider when you’re preparing a construction project

Paramount to protecting heritage when building is establishing exactly what is classified as ‘heritage’, as the term can be ambiguous. Heritage can include anything from particular geological formations and landscape to places with biological, ecological, aesthetic, intrinsic or historical significance.

Finding out what procedures and rules apply to a particular site can often require liaison with the local, state and national heritage authority before commencing construction.

If the construction area is heritage listed, or in the near vicinity of a heritage site, all building and alterations to the site must ensure the protection and conservation of heritage. The best way to achieve this is to follow comprehensive assessment systems developed by a state Commission and comply with environmental assessment policies.

Assessment Systems and Environmental Policies

Assessment, and alterations that may result in order to ensure the project complies with heritage laws, can seem like an opportunity to cut costs by ignoring recommendations or failing to seek approval initially. However, the financial losses that can result from legal cases or completely reworking the site if damage is reversible, will far outweigh those associated with the prevention of negative outcomes.

Ultimately, outlaying initial capital into protecting areas of heritage significance can save huge amounts of time and money further down the track. Corporate reputations can, and have, been damaged considerably, when a business becomes implicated in legal battles over heritage damage.

Early last year, the owner of the most historic property in Warwick, South-East Queensland, made the news when he took the Southern Downs Regional Council to court for giving the McConaghy Group permission to demolish part of his property.

The case reflected badly on both the Council and the McConaghy group as the application was contrary to the Queensland Heritage Act 1992 and heritage rules in the Warwick town plan.

Both buildings are important in illustrating the design, materials and construction techniques of mid-19th century masonry buildings in Queensland and both have potential to reveal further information about 19th century stone and brick construction. The case illustrates how construction companies can save time, money and their reputation by assessing heritage and environmental issues of a site before applying to commence construction.