Sydney has a heritage-listed sewer. It has set off a storm with developers



Local councils and the state government have been accused of offering heritage protection to “bizarre” items such as stormwater drains, laneway paving and the footings of a former transmission tower.

Chris Johnson, the chief executive of Urban Taskforce Australia, also said there was a “heritage mafia” that preferred old buildings to be left empty and decay rather than adapted and put to use.

“I have seen many examples of councils and state government using heritage as an excuse to stop new development,” he said.

The attempt by the City of Sydney to protect the Brutalist-style Bidura Children’s Court in Glebe was an example of using heritage to hinder development, Mr Johnson said.

Simon Fuller, an unsuccessful candidate for Willoughby Council in 2017, said heritage orders were used to block what he called “fair and appropriate” development projects on Sydney’s north shore.

“I am outraged at the misuse of heritage listings because it unfairly prevents development that would benefit the community and it may end up diminishing the heritage protection for real heritage assets,” Mr Fuller said.

However, a spokeswoman for Willoughby Council said all items on its heritage list went through a detailed assessment of their historical significance.

More than 240 heritage items are listed in the Willoughby local environment plan, including churches, private homes such as Innisfallen Castle, modelled after a ruined abbey in Ireland, and buildings by American architect Walter Burley Griffin, the designer of Canberra.


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