Finding the balance between Ballarat’s new and old buildings | ourballarat Summer 2021-22

As Ballarat’s population continues to grow, one of the challenges for our city’s town planners is how we strike a balance between encouraging new and bold investment.

City of Ballarat Heritage Advisor Annabel Neylon and Executive Manager Development Facilitation Joanna Cuscaden inspect the city's rich heritage in Lydiard Street.

Ballarat is growing with our population expected to increase by more than 50,000 people by 2040, taking our total population to over 160,000.

In build terms, this means more than 1,000 new houses per year. Ballarat fills a prizeworthy niche — we have an enviable location and lifestyle, outstanding facilities, a rapidly developing culinary offer and an established creative scene.

Underpinning all these attributes is our iconic and proud Aboriginal, cultural and European heritage. Ballarat is built on its history. From its skyline to its inner walls to its stories, legacies and legends, heritage is embedded in the fabric of the city.

Highlighting our heritage

City of Ballarat Director of Development and Growth Natalie Robertson says the interpretation of heritage is often seen as a preserved or a protected, listed building or location based on historic value. But equally heritage is about the ideas and attitudes that surround those material objects and how they interact with and influence both their natural and built surrounds.

“There is a lot more to the physical presence of heritage and that is where we play a critical role in considering and applying the right statutory tools to any heritage planning process.”

Federal, state and local governments all play their part in identifying, managing and protecting heritage places and objects. The City of Ballarat adheres to land use planning controls prepared and administered by state and local government authorities under the Environment Act 1987.

“Our heritage planning team is tasked with both developing statutory controls as well as leading their application across what are often very complex and difficult situations," Natalie says.

"We balance many considerations as we work to retain and build on our local heritage values."

City of Ballarat Manager Strategic Planning Terry Natt is responsible for developing statutory planning tools that guide heritage concerns.

Terry says it’s critical housing needs are not only sustainable and equitable but importantly that they are in line with community values.

“The Ballarat Housing Strategy provides a plan for how Ballarat can accommodate population growth and residential development for the next 20 years," Terry says.

"The Neighbourhood Character Study informs the Housing Strategy, providing character statements and design guidelines."

Heritage and growth

The Council Plan 2021–2025 lists one of its priority goals as - ‘A city that conserves and enhances our natural and built assets’. Such is the importance of getting the balance of heritage and growth right, the City of Ballarat recently appointed Heritage Advisor Annabel Neylon.

City of Ballarat Executive Manager Development Facilitation Joanna Cuscaden is responsible for ensuring the correct application of the city’s planning policies, including those that address heritage.

“Across the city we are developing some robust tools to help the facilitation of heritage planning. From the development of the CBD Urban Design Framework to our Heritage Gaps Review, we will be well equipped to undertake detailed assessment and reviews of new planning applications.”

The question of balance between growth and retaining the city’s heritage, whether old or new, is never going to be an exact science. It can be subjective with many grey areas and a myriad of state and local legislative and procedural considerations.

However, the City of Ballarat is committed to providing a consultative approach and applying the right statutory tools to ensure that Ballarat continues to preserve, protect and showcase its heritage in line with growth.

City of Ballarat Council Plan Alignment

The projects, initiatives, and ideas in this article align with the following goals of the City of Ballarat Council Plan 2021-2025:

Goal 3
A city that fosters sustainable growth

Goal 4
A city that conserves and enhances our natural and built assets