VICTORIA'S government has defended its handling of 'demolition by neglect' laws amid mounting concerns about the state of heritage buildings across Greater Bendigo.
Cr David Fagg implored the government to "come to the party" and give councils a better idea about when to enforce a newly minted law against those leaving historic properties to deteriorate.
"There is no real guidance from the state government on how to implement it," he said.
Cr Fagg made the comments as Greater Bendigo's council discussed a petition from the city's National Trust branch on Monday night.
A government spokesperson said it was up to councils to uphold heritage values and that they were best placed to identify how to manage their areas' historic buildings.
"We have a strong framework in place to ensure state and local governments can protect places of heritage significance," they said.
The government passed laws in 2021 that boosted council powers and were intended to deter the unlawful demolition of heritage buildings, or allow them to fall into disrepair.
Under the reforms, Bendigo's council could ask the government to change rules around specific properties it believes have been allowed to fall into disrepair, and stop owners benefitting from their neglect.
Cr Fagg is not the only one saying the state government has given councils scant guidance on the new laws.
The National Trust made the same comment in a submission to a state parliament inquiry into planning laws at the end of January.
The trust told the inquiry it has written to two large councils regarding "urgent issues of demolition by neglect" since the new laws' introduction.
"However both were unclear on how this could be achieved," it said.
It is unclear whether the National Trust was directly referring to any Bendigo properties or the city's council.
But its Bendigo branch president Peter Cox has previously told the Advertiser council staff felt they had limited powers to stop certain heritage sites deteriorating.
That included on properties the council had spent considerable amounts of ratepayer money giving site-specific heritage overlays.
"They've spent millions of dollars on heritage overlays because it is so expensive to do all the research that justifies it," Mr Cox said last week.
"You don't go spending that money and then allow the property to deteriorate and be destroyed. It doesn't make sense."
The Bendigo branch's petition calls on the council to bulk up heritage protections using the new laws.
The council expects to respond within two months and its staff are currently exploring options.
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