Councillor Mitchell Griffin explains why council knocked back the bid to put Morpeth on state heritage register

The push by the Morpeth Conservation Group to have the entire suburb placed on the state heritage register was knocked back by council. Here councillor Mitchell Griffin tells why.

There has been much said in recent weeks regarding the heritage of Morpeth. A motion was put to council following a letter from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) that requested council provide resources towards consultation with the community regarding the Morpeth Conservation Group’s nomination for the entire suburb to be listed on the state heritage register. 

There has been a number of public comments made by a few people within the community. They felt that council’s decision not to support the motion effectively “gagged” the community. These comments could not be further from the truth. 

The motion put to council was not whether to allow consultation, but to enter in to a partnership with the council where we would be required to resource the consultation. This process would likely take a number of months, with both the  monetary and human resourcing cost on the council. This request breaks with tradition from OEH which has previously fully resourced these type of consultation projects.

I feel it is unreasonable for the rate payer to fund this consultation. By voting against the motion, council has put the onus back on to the OEH to fully resource the consultation process. This means that the consultation process will still likely proceed, but not at the expense of the Maitland rate payer. 

I commend the Morpeth Conservation Group and their president Simon Brooker for their ongoing efforts to protect Morpeth. I feel there is a need for protection in some sections of Morpeth, although I do hold concerns for the current nomination as it covers the entire suburb. Morpeth is now a mixed suburb with its historical precinct, as well as new outlying estates. The proposed area would include these new sub divisions such as Morpeth Manor and Closebourne Estate which contain houses which are less than 5 years old.

Although these are new homes, they would be constrained within this proposed heritage listing.

Because of these concerns I believe that this may prevent the listing from being successful. If this is the case I encourage the Morpeth Conservation Group to consider an amended nomination which focuses on just the historical parts as it may have a greater chance of success.