Protecting our built heritage

In my 8 years on Macedon Ranges Shire Council, I have advocated for protecting and preserving our built heritage, as you have told me how important this is, and is something that I believe in also.

Many of the buildings in central Kyneton were built during the Gold Rush era (1850-1890) and their continuing presence is a feature that attracts residents and visitors alike to our towns.

Some heritage-value buildings are in Council ownership. Although these may have costs involved to maintain them, it is wonderful that they can remain in public ownership, to be appreciated and used by the community. Examples of these include the Bluestone Theatre (ex-Kyneton Methodist Church), Kyneton Town Hall and Kyneton Mechanics Institute, Kyneton Museum, the Malmsbury Town Hall and Mechanics Institute. Whilst these buildings have a well-used community purpose, it is worth maintaining them in community ownership. Some are owned by the State government and managed by Council, whilst others are owned by you all as the rate payers.

I have supported the investigation of the heritage of private property, to ensure we do not lose sites that form a valuable part of our history. I have supported funding over multiple budgets to perform heritage studies on both private and public sites, as well as funding for a trained heritage planner on council. There is still much work to do, but as more of our built history is acknowledged and recorded, we can apply appropriate planning scheme controls & overlays to ensure any future uses respect this historical significance. This doesn’t mean no change, but allows appreciation of the sites and guidance to current and future owners as to the forms of modification that do not destroy what makes the site significant.

Our bluestone heritage, particularly in Malmsbury and Kyneton, is an important feature of our towns. I have advocated for us to have a consistent approach to these assets when making assessments of them if they are in need of maintenance or repair.

For 8 years I have been Council’s delegate on the Macedon Ranges Heritage Council, where our volunteer heritage societies across the Shire meet with council staff and our heritage advisor to discuss current and potential future heritage concerns.

I thank the members of these heritage societies, who all give up their time voluntarily. These societies have carefully documented histories and produced books on particular topics. They also assist residents, businesses and visitors in looking into topics of interest, such as family histories. When they reopen, once the pandemic restrictions are relaxed, please go and say hello to them, and consider making a donation. Maybe even think of becoming a member yourself!

The photo on this page is the Malmsbury viaduct. It is neither a council owned nor managed asset (it is looked after by VicTrack, as part of the Bendigo railway line), but it illustrates one of my favorite heritage assets in our Shire: bluestone architecture.

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