Tasmanian Heritage Register riddled with inaccuracies

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The Cataract Gorge in Launceston is one site affected by the mapping errors. Picture: Wai Nang Poon

HUNDREDS of significant buildings and sites including Launceston’s Cataract Gorge may be unprotected because of inaccuracies in the Heritage Tasmania registration process.

A two-year audit of the Tasmanian Heritage Register has revealed issues with about 850 listings throughout the state that Heritage Tasmania staff have estimated could take years to fix.

Three years of internal documents released to the Mercury under Right to Information laws have laid bare what Heritage staff described as “major errors” in cadastral mapping on the affected sites. The accuracy of the maps is critical to the legitimacy of the entries on the Register.

An email sent in mid-2018 suggested there were more than 490 “legacy issues” in Hobart alone — and that excluded the CBD. The names of sites were redacted from the documents released, but the registrations under a cloud include private residences, businesses and public buildings.

This is understood to include the Gorge, the former Carlton Club Hotel in Hobart as well as the capital’s historic post office.

The former Carlton Club Hotel on the corner of Argyle and Liverpool streets in Hobart.

The errors vary. Documents released show one Heritage Register listing had 26 separate registrations.

Another had only half of one building protected.

The error listed for another site was posed as a question: “Where is the building?”

Multiple heritage experts suggested to the Mercury that the mapping issues could leave the affected sites exposed to development if a dispute landed in a planning tribunal or court.

The historic GPO building in Hobart. Picture: SAM ROSEWARNE

A Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Department spokesman said work was under way to correct the 850 wrong entries.

“For instance, during the 2017-18 financial year 377 entries were amended and/or revised,” the spokesman said.

“These, and other measures being employed by the Heritage Council to enhance the register, will help to improve its accuracy, currency and accessibility.

“This work will also help the Heritage Council to deliver a boundary layer for all the entries in the Register in the Land Information System (Tasmania).” The spokesman also said that 2014 amendments to the Historic Cultural Heritage Act ensured entries at that time were validated to “remove any doubt about their legal status”.

“It is recognised that location details for places will continue to change (for example as a result of subdivisions) and the Heritage Council will address these changes,” the spokesman said.

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