Council condemns house to demolition

AN application to demolish a century-old house in New Norfolk was approved when it came before the Derwent Valley Council again tonight. Councillors were deadlocked when the matter first came up in April, resulting in an automatic approval, subject to conditions. The owner and demolition applicant, Humana Pty Ltd, lodged an appeal but later deferred the appeal in order to submit a new application. Humana, owned by the Rockefeller family, owns the neighbouring Woolworths supermarket building.

On receipt of the second, identical application, the council engaged a consultant town planner who reached largely the same conclusions as the council planner had done two months ago, most notably that the house at 54 Burnett St was not heritage-listed and there was no legal reason for its preservation.

Councillors Judy Bromfield, Scott Shaw, Barry Lathey and deputy mayor Craig Farrell lamented that the council’s hands were tied, particularly as the house was not heritage-listed, but also because they feared an expensive legal process if the application was refused. “I voted against this last time but I have since spoken to the general manager and planner and it seems there is nothing we can do,” Cr Farrell said.

Cr Damian Bester said he was “stunned” at what he was hearing around the table. He said he had been opposed to the demolition when it was first proposed, and he remained against the idea now. He was particularly concerned that planning laws did not required the applicant to state why they wanted to demolish the house and whether they proposed to redevelop the site. “I realise this is the law but this will not be the first time the law has been described as an ass,” he said. Cr Bester told his fellow councillors there was something they could do, and that was to vote “no”.

When put to the vote, Mayor Martyn Evans, deputy mayor Farrell and Councillors Shaw, Molan-Hill and Bromfield voted in favour of the demolition. Cr Bester voted “no” and Cr Lathey abstained. The application was approved subject to conditions, including the preservation of a hedge on Burnett St and a paling fence on George St.

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