Posted 3/7/06



Planning Objectives



What does the VLG want?


After the WW2, as Australia ‘modernised’, it was caught up in the mantra ‘out with the old and in with the new’.  This applied to nearly everything including our built environment, including our heritage buildings, and not just the cute looking ones. The wrecker’s ball caused a swathe of destruction as it was wielded down Collins Street and St Kilda Road in particular.


But it was happening everywhere.  So began the heritage conservation movement led by the National Trust. Trust classifications followed, the Historic Building Council formed to oversee heritage conservation and eventually heritage overlays become mandatory for all Councils.


It took 50 years before these overlays were legislated. They were based on a thorough assessment of heritage values which had become accepted over this long period.  Again, it was not about just protecting the ‘cute’ ones.


Now there is some protection for our heritage suburbs where there once was none.  Inappropriate development had at last met its match.


However, whilst there were champions protecting our built environment there was no one protecting our landscapes.


In January 2004 the Victorian Landscape Guardians was formed with a simple objective: to protect our landscape from inappropriate development through the planning process (that is landscape overlays).


The landscape is a finite resource.  There is no more of it.   Things which are finite deserve our ultimate respect and we should do all in our power to protect them for future generations.  Therefore all landscapes are significant and must be protected unless there is an overwhelming case to the contrary.


How can this be achieved?


First, we must agree that the landscape is “that which is between ourselves and the horizon, even if that horizon is imagined”.


Second, we must agree that the landscape forms the background to our lives and helps to define who we are as individuals and as Australians.


Third, that the people best qualified to assess the value of their landscape (not just scenic) are those who actually live in it, but that should not include ‘professional' contributions.


Fourth, there needs to be some independent and objective criteria against which different landscapes can be judged so they can stand up to comparative analysis.


Fifth, the assessments must become included in a landscape overlay with the provisions of our planning laws.


Sixth, municipalities should establish and resource a Reference Committee to carry out these assessments the membership of which should have wide representation so as to ensure its findings are likely to receive community support.



Randall Bell, President - Victorian Landscape Guardians

NB  Randall Bell is a former long-serving chairman of the National Trust


Randall Bell []