Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn
The Catholic Church made an application to the ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal objecting to a decision by the ACT Heritage Council to include St Patrick’s Church at Braddon on the ACT Heritage Register.
Originally built in 1935, the church building had undergone a number of significant changes, including substantial alterations in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the Heritage Council regarded the church as an expression of historic evidence for a distinctive activity and as a place with a strong and special association with people and events in the history of the ACT.
GML Heritage was initially engaged by the Catholic Church to provide independent research, assessment and advice about the history and heritage significance of the site. Based on this advice, GML subsequently provided expert evidence as part of the tribunal hearing.
Grounded on thorough analysis of the place and associated records, GML concluded that St Patrick’s, Braddon, was a type of church with associated school that had been common in the region prior to and after Canberra was established. St Patrick’s was never a main parish church, nor particularly influential in Catholic history. The use of the church building had changed over time and it had not been continuously used for worship. Further, the extent of changes that had occurred to the church building and its setting affected its integrity. GML therefore concluded that the site did not warrant inclusion on the ACT Heritage Register.
Following a site visit and several days of hearings, including oral evidence from GML, the tribunal found that, while recognising the importance of the church in many peoples’ lives, St Patrick’s did not meet any of the relevant heritage assessment criteria at a level that could allow its listing in the register and that the listing information on which the original decision had been based suffered some serious shortcomings. The tribunal therefore ordered that the decision to list the site be set aside.
In this case, the research skills and expertise of GML assisted the site owner in ensuring that there was a well-informed merits-based decision about the contested heritage listing.