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Preserving the past

Tuesday, 14th July, 2009

Broken Hill's bid to be included on the National Heritage List will further enhance the city as a destination for cultural tourism, according to NSW National Trust Executive Director John Neish.

Mr Neish visited the city over the weekend as part of a tour of National Trust branches around the State, and was shown around Broken Hill's heritage attractions by local branch Chairperson Fran McKinnon.

The visit proved to be a positive experience for Mr Neish, who said he was impressed with the community's dedication to preserving its rich heritage.

"We do like to put our support behind those communities that are doing the right thing, and from what I've seen here in Broken Hill there is a lot of very good things going on to support cultural heritage," he said.

"And that's at many levels, it's not just about buildings. It's the people, the place, the culture, the history that exists. It's what I call a sense of place and belonging.

"The people here are very strongly connected to that, there's three or four generations of families that have lived here, and they have pride in that."

Mr Neish praised the decision to nominate the city for the heritage listing, and said the move would almost certainly provide a boost for local tourism.

"From my perspective I think Broken Hill is very wise in supporting its cultural tourism.

"It has a lot to offer, it's very unique and is quintessentially Australian. The National listing will give further strength to that position.

"Broken Hill would be the first town in Australia to have received a nomination, and I believe it will place Broken Hill at the forefront of cultural tourism as a consequence of that."

Despite those likely benefits, not everyone is as optimistic about the possible impact of the listing.

Some local developers have expressed concern that it may result in future modern developments being rejected as they will contrast with existing heritage buildings.

However after meeting with Council early yesterday Mr Neish said he was confident that the listing would not hinder new, modern projects, provided the development is not in an area or building already heritage-listed in Council's Local Environmental Plan.

Nor would it interfere with Council's local heritage listings as part of the ongoing development of its Local Environmental Plan, he said.

"From my view the current changes the Council has to make as part of their Local Environmental Plan, there won't be any impact on that from the National listing, it will be business as usual for the Council."

"And you need that, personally I don't think you can freeze everything in time, but you can show respect for it.

I think with the Council that's certainly the way they want to go.

"I think it's important that the town is still allowed to grow and expand and people are allowed to modify their buildings."

Those seeking further information on the listing are encouraged to attend an infomation session at the Aged Person's Rest Centre on Thursday between 2pm and 8pm.

At 6.30pm there will be a short presentation regarding the National Heritage List and Broken Hill's nomination, with questions and discussions with Australian Heritage Office officials to follow.

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