COUNCIL rate caps will undermine heritage redevelopment in the CBD unless the state government puts more money into the City of Greater Bendigo's planning arm.
The council will need the resources and staff to manage complex building developments in the city centre, private architect and former council worker Brad Hooper has told a public meeting on the draft Bendigo City Centre plan.
"State funding has got to come in to play on this. There's got to be some sort of mechanism to fund proper resourcing," he said.
The "parlous" statewide resources for developers to navigate complex heritage cases can lead to delays and poor outcomes.
"A developer has not got four weeks to wait for guidance about buildings that are on the heritage register," Mr Hooper said.
He called on people to include state government members in submissions to the council's city centre plan and, when it is released, the city's draft heritage building plan.
Mr Hooper also urged the council to provide "block by block" guidance on the heritage requirements it expects of builders, with building-specific directions for some properties.
"You should ask for specific tools - or at least reference to tools - that would work for development in the future," he said.
"The tools should be written with reality behind them. You don't want pie in the sky language here, it's got to be something a developer can pick up and use."
That is something the current draft council plan lacks, Mr Hooper said.
City planners will also need comprehensive site analyses, which in the past have not allowed them enough information to decide what changes would be appropriate at heritage sites.
The National Trust's Peter Cox reiterated the Bendigo branch's opposition to the council's release of the draft plan before it has released a heritage assessment in the city centre.
"We see it as fairly disappointing that the study has not been released at this point in time as the city centre plan," he said.
"I guess it puts heritage on the back foot."
Yet Mr Hooper supported the council's decision.
"When this heritage scheme is built into the planning scheme it must be absolutely spot on," he said.
"Because when an issue gets to VCAT a wily barrister can find something they can drive through they will.
Bendigo mayor Marg O'Rourke said both plans would be rolled into the city's planning scheme at the same time.
"To ensure alignment between the two strategic pieces of work the amendments need to occur concurrently," she told the meeting.
She welcomed public submissions on the city centre plan, even if the official closing date was October 27.
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