Braidwood, NSW

Heritage for Everyone

Heritage for the Future


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Update

On March 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."

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make this important decision a reality.

******

Media Release

Urban Developments Will Destroy Braidwood, NSW
Australia’s Last Georgian Town

June 29, 2005


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 Mayor Brandson, on ABC Radio, openly admitted that the precedent set by this decision under outdated planning rules gives developers “open slather” for further developments, which will obliterate this unique piece of Australian heritage.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 protect it.

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 measures.
    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 ignored.
  • 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.

Waiting 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 the developer.

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.

For more information:

Email: braidwood@laughingowl.com.au

Phone::

Andrew Einspruch: 0409 609 428
Antony Davies: 0438 126 987

 


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