Victoria to penalise dodgy developers

Victoria to penalise dodgy developers

17 November 2017

The Victorian Government is cracking down on developers that flout Victoria’s heritage protection, with new laws that came into force on November 1, 2017.

The Heritage Act 2017 will ensure Victoria’s long list of heritage assets is appropriately protected and reserved for future generations, the government says.

The Act sets out new compliance and enforcement powers and doubles the maximum penalties for unauthorised works to heritage places.

The maximum penalty for knowingly or recklessly removing, demolishing, damaging, or excavating a registered heritage place will be $746,208 or five years prison for an individual.

Body corporates could be hit with fines of up to $1.49 million.

New compliance and enforcement tools to protect heritage include:

  • A stop order tool to halt unauthorised works without a permit or permit exemption.
  • A rectification order tool to allow a party to undertake corrective works without the need to prosecute an offence.
  • A strict liability offence to reduce the likelihood of works being undertaken without a permit.

The Act also gives local councils new powers to assess permits for works that may impact heritage assets.

“Our heritage is our history and it gives us all a great sense of pride. It’s a big driver of tourism and a rare chance to educate kids about our past,” said Minister for Planning Richard Wynne.

“A hundred years of history can be destroyed by one developer who has no regard for the rules. We’re putting a stop to that,” he added.

According to the government, developers too often flout the rules and write off meagre fines as the price to pay for doing their illegal works.

“These new laws will ensure our penalties are a deterrent, and not just the price of doing business in Victoria,” Mr Wynne said.

The Heritage Inventory will now cover only significant sites 75 years or more, rather than all sites over 50 years old, as it did previously.

The new legislation will also introduce review rights for consents issued for archaeological sites allow the Executive Director to reject a nomination for a place or object which has “no reasonable case” for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register.

In total, more than 125 submissions indicating broad support for the proposed changes were received by the government.

There are more than 2,300 places and objects and 650 shipwrecks on the Victorian Heritage Register.

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