Heritage Guardians: new group, old ideals

A new, highly motivated player emerged this week in the fight to protect our region’s history –  a group of concerned residents calling themselves the Maitland Heritage Guardians.

The goal is admirable.

They feel that over time, much of Maitland’s rich heritage history has been lost, and something needs to be done. “Death by a thousand lashes” is how organiser Chris Richards, a self confessed heritage conservationist, describes it.

So the Heritage Guardians plan to advise council on all things heritage – it might be buildings, or historic trees, even heritage gardens and beautiful vistas.

More than that, they want to see the introduction of policy for reinstating verandahs to historic buildings. They point out that in the early 1900s most of High Street’s streetscape featured verandahs with verandah posts.

But that’s not all. The group also plans an annual heritage festival, a heritage tourist trail, and to advise people buying heritage properties. 

There is little doubt that, for all their good intentions, there will be times when the Guardians are a  major pain in the backside for Council.

But that is probably an indication that the system is working.

The Guardians acknowledge that they can only advise council – they’re not lawmakers after all – but that they want to be heard.

We’re lucky in Maitland that our city – our region in fact – has such a rich history, one that needs to be respected and preserved.

And for that reason we hope council gives them the time they deserve.

Council has a tough job, particularly with no end in sight to the population growth, which coincides with housing, development, schools and roads.

But surely this can be achieved without trashing our history. Not just tolerating it either, but genuinely embracing it. 

What will Maitland to look like in 30 years? 

A vibrant city on the river with a thriving cafe and coffee scene, boutique shopping, art galleries (another one opened last week in High Street), a relaxing walk and bike path along the river sounds and restored heritage buildings that speak of the past …. it sounds pretty good.

So we welcome the Heritage Guardians. If they can work hand in hand with council, then our city will be the winner.