30, 2006, Braidwood and its setting were officially listed on the NSW
State Heritage Register. Planning Minister Frank Sartor made
the announcement in Ryrie Park. "Braidwood is a rare surviving
example of Georgian period town planning, dating from the 1830s,"
said Minister Sartor. "I am happy to list the town, which will
guarantee that its unique character is retained. We have struck a balanced
decision, to allow heritage to underpin the town's prosperity and to
help the region's strong economic growth and dynamic communities."
to everyone who worked so hard to make this important decision a reality.
Will Destroy Braidwood, NSW
Australia’s Last Georgian Town
The last Australian town to be laid out in the Georgian (1830s) era
is faced with threats that will change it forever, the victim of poor
Council planning and opportunistic developers.
The historic Southern Tablelands town of Braidwood, NSW faces a devastating
tide of inappropriate urban sprawl. Two huge subdivisions on rural land
surrounding the intact 19th century village were approved by Palerang
Council, despite strong community opposition and the concerns of councillors
that they have been forced to make a poor decision.
The developments, with a combined 186 house sites, will bloat the town
by at least 50%. Mayor Brandson, on ABC Radio, openly admitted that
the precedent set by this decision under outdated planning rules gives
developers “open slather” for further developments, which
will obliterate this unique piece of Australian heritage. No impact
studies were undertaken. Council refused to consider the obvious negative
affects on the heritage significance of the town. Council received 140
submissions from residents opposing the developments, and none in support.
However Council dismissed community concerns as irrelevant, because
they felt existing planning rules tied their hands.
Devastated residents hope that the Minister assisting the Minister for
Planning, Dianne Beamer, will recommend that an Interim Heritage Order
be placed on Braidwood and its setting to allow time for proper planning
procedures to be implemented with the assistance of the NSW Heritage
Office. The Council has, by their actions, made it nearly impossible
for residents to defend the town through any other means, and the developers
are set to begin work on the two sites within a few weeks time.
An Interim Heritage Order would reverse the decisions made by Council
and could be kept in place until the Government, the Heritage Office
and the community are able to reach a reasonable compromise with the
developers satisfying all considerations. Residents have asked for support.
Anyone concerned about the destruction of this valuable historic town
should write immediately to the Minister and to their local Member of
Parliament, so that this heritage jewel is protected for everyone.
Braidwood, half-way between Canberra and the NSW South Coast, was established
as a rural administration centre in the 1830s. A portion of Braidwood
Farm, an extensive property belonging to philanthropist farmer Dr Thomas
Braidwood Wilson, was selected for the new town. A simple Georgian street
design was arranged around a large village square, placed in front of
a fine courthouse. Uniquely, the Georgian street arrangement has survived
complete with Braidwood’s distinctive rural outlooks on each side,
and with it a clear definition of rural land abutting the town. The
distinctive visible boundary between the town and the rural land was
first identified as being significant in heritage studies in the 1960s,
and recent studies show it to be a feature now unique to Braidwood.
Urban sprawl has obliterated this feature from nearly every other 19th
century Australian town, leaving Braidwood the only place in NSW that
one can see a Georgian village in its original rural setting.
The town was put on the National Trust Register in 1976, at a time when
no State or Federal legislation protected built heritage assets. In
1980, Braidwood was put on the Register of the National Estate. This
alone demonstrates the great importance of the town and the need to
In 2002 the NSW Heritage Office proposed classifying Braidwood as an
historic place on the State Heritage Register – the first time
that a NSW town would be listed with its setting. Similar classifications
have been made in the past two decades in most other States, but NSW
has few surviving intact sites. Haberfield in Sydney was classified
as a heritage precinct under State Heritage legislation. Heritage classification
of Braidwood would allow the town and its surroundings to be protected
from inappropriate development by encouraging the Council and community
to access better planning, and to follow “best practice”
in designing new buildings in Braidwood.
In submissions to Council, residents pointed out that:
Braidwood is a unique historical town that needs special planning
Council had current information demonstrating the importance of protecting
the town and its setting, and proof of the inadequacy of its planning
rules. It should have waited until proper rules were adopted before
approving such significant changes that will change the town irrevocably.
The right to farm adjoining properties including the 1836 State Heritage
Classified property ‘Bedervale’ had been ignored. The
adjoining development has no buffer to that working farm, which will
significantly affect the farm’s ability to function. Council
has pushed the responsibility for a buffer onto Bedervale, instead
of having the development shoulder it.
In approving the developments, almost all heritage advice has been
Council had agreed to delay a decision on supporting heritage listing
of the town until an impact study was completed. Council should have
applied the same logic and waited until proper studies determined
the effects of these wide scale urban-style developments.
1997 studies had recommended that the area in question be rezoned
to “rural” to protect it from such development.
Council’s old DCP had no provisions for Section 94 developer
contributions that would require a developer to contribute to community
expenses amplified by his development like swimming pools, recreation
facilities, libraries, footpaths and other public amenities.
to approve a development under a revised DCP would have allowed the
community to benefit from these contributions instead of requiring the
community to pay these costs, which means that the community is subsidising
Braidwood’s location off the major Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne transport
route has meant that little development has occurred in the past 150
years. The town did not receive a rail link, and is too far from Sydney
to have been attractive for weekend homes until recently. The Southern
Highlands towns of Berrima, Moss Vale, Bowral, Mittagong, Robertson,
Sutton Forest and Bundanoon all saw major developments from about 1975,
and in each case the previously intact villages have been swamped with
large urban developments, nearly always to their detriment.
Braidwood has been the setting for some of Australia’s definitive
films including “Ned Kelly”, “The Year my Voice Broke”,
“On Our Selection”, "Forty Thousand Horsemen",
"Robbery Under Arms" and “Finding Joy”, as well
as numerous ads. It’s intact state gives it an unsurpassed potential
for future filmmaking. It hosts an impressive array of cultural festivals
including “The Airing of the Quilts”, Heritage celebrations,
Music festivals, Arts festivals and recently the “Two Fires”
Festival celebrating the art and activism of poet and writer Judith
Wright, a long-time local resident.
In the last 30 years, residents has taken an active interest in restoring
heritage buildings and creating a thriving town.