By Matthew Milbourne (Senior Strategic Planner, Melton City Council).
Following a win at Planning Institute of Australia’s Victoria Awards for the Best Planning Idea – Large Project for the Melton Dry Stone Wall Study and Amendment (The Flag Stone #38), the project was sent to the National Planning Awards. We are pleased to announce that we beat some tough competition and received a commendation in the same category at these National Awards.
The judging panel commented:
The Melton City Council Dry Stone Wall project represents an innovative approach to identifying and protecting heritage fabric, which has been enriched by connecting it with education, place-making and tourism development.
The project was a 13 year commitment by the Council and represents the most comprehensive survey of dry stone walls and other dry stone structures ever undertaken in Australia – and possibly worldwide.
The project relied on a ground-breaking approach to the collection of data that included manual and technological methodologies.
Not content with having these heritage assets successfully listed for heritage protection in the local planning scheme, the Council undertook a comprehensive implementation program that included dry stone walling workshops, publication of guides to aid preservation, public art and sculpture projects, modification of Council’s roadside maintenance program, a tourism focused driving tour, interpretive signage, direct assistance to landowners (including financial support) and the development of Council showcase projects.
The way in which the Council has used dry stone walls as a place making tool in public buildings and through- out the community is very impressive.
The project cleverly moves beyond a simple ‘identify and protect’ approach to heritage to embrace a more comprehensive, considered and practical program of community engagement that raises awareness and instils an appreciation of these heritage assets.
Over the past 13 years Melton City Council has developed an extensive program to identify, protect, improve, interpret and celebrate dry stone walls, which include:
- Free heritage advice on repair and maintenance of dry stone walls.
- Matched funding for wall repairs from the Melton Heritage Assistance Fund.
- Free dry stone wall workshops.
- The creation of a dry stone wall trail which showcases different dry stone wall types (available on Council’s website).
- The creation of a public sculpture which depicts the creation of a dry stone wall.
- The creation of interpretative signage panels which provides a narrative on dry stone walls in the municipality.
- Promotion of dry stone walls through Heritage Week activities.
- Information about dry stone walls is made available on Council’s website.
- The 175 dry stone walls subject to the heritage overlay have their details recorded on the Victorian Heritage Database.
- The creation of a Dry Stone Wall local policy which has been incorporated into the Melton Planning Scheme.
- Council provides signage for landowners, free of charge, to declare that it is illegal for the public to remove stones from dry stone walls.
- Council has showcased sensitive repair and conservation of walls at two Council building sites – the Western Business Accelerator and Centre for Excellence, and Morton Homestead.
- Council requires dry stone walls to be retained as landscape features in new estates
- Education for the ‘whole of Council’ regarding the importance of dry stone walls including engineering, assets, capital projects, arts and culture, economic development, tourism, and planning.
- The creation of brochures for landowners on how to keep your dry stone wall in good repair.
Melton City Council appreciates the hard work by the consultants who prepared the Melton Dry Stone Wall Study. Jim Holdsworth, Raelene Marshall and David Moloney were tireless in pulling together a methodology to record the attributes of dry stone walls, surveying walls, and preparing a study which recommended how walls should be protected, interpreted and celebrated in the City of Melton.
We also appreciate our heritage advisor, Sera-Jane Peters, who educated councillors, council staff, land owners and developers on the importance of dry stone walls, resulting in their preservation and programs that restore and celebrate them.
For more information please contact Melton City Council’s City Strategy Unit on 03 9747 7200 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.melton.vic.gov.au.