Protection nod too late

Gisborne's Bunjil Creek bridge was dismantled for roadworks in March.

An independent planning panel has found heritage protection was “appropriate and justified” for Bunjil Creek bridge, which was dismantled for Gisborne roadworks in March.

Regional Roads Victoria reneged on an in-principle agreement with Macedon Ranges Council to protect heritage features to progress intersection works on Melbourne/Kilmore Road.

The bridge was removed before permanent heritage protection could be applied and before the planning panel had presented its findings to the council on April 12.

Council’s director of planning and environment, Rebecca Stockfeld, said the planning panel had supported the council’s bid for protection.

“The independent panel supported council’s position that the Bunjil Creek bridge and channel had local heritage significance and should have been protected by a heritage overlay,” she told the Express.

“While council understands the importance of improving our shire’s key intersections and bridges, and investments by the Victorian Government to support this, we strongly felt this did not need to come at the expense of protecting a significant heritage structure.”

Ms Stockfeld said council officers had raised heritage and community concerns over the significance of the site directly with Regional Roads Victoria, DELWP and the Minister for Planning before works began.

“The council made two requests for an interim Heritage Overlay to the Minister for Planning prior to works beginning but the minister declined to approve the interim controls,” she said.

“If an interim Heritage Overlay had been put in place as requested by council, a planning permit would have been required for the demolition of Bunjil Creek bridge.”

Ms Stockfeld said heritage protection could still be applied to three significant trees in the area.

“While the bridge has now been demolished, officers are reviewing the C143macr Panel report to determine the best way forward,” she said.

“Amendment C143macr also proposed to extend an existing Heritage Overlay to protect two oaks and one elm tree aligning with the heritage avenue in Howey Reserve Gisborne.”

An upcoming Planning Delegated Committee will consider the amendment, panel recommendations and next stage of the project. All submitters will be notified of the meeting outcomes and the project’s next steps.