The peer review of Forrest’s Heritage Impact Assessment by the Town’s retained heritage consultants, ERA Architects, is disappointingly thin.

No. It is alarmingly thin to the point of being inadequate. You can read it here.

It was sent by email to the Town on 4 May 2016 but there was no reference to it at the Statutory Public Meeting on 9 May 2016. Perhaps councillors only got sight of it today.

As expected, ERA does not challenge the proposed demolition by Forrest of the historic commercial buildings in Main Street South even when the Town’s own Lower Main Street South Heritage Conservation District Plan says at paragraph

“The Town supports the retention of historic buildings in the district. If a property owner proposes to demolish or remove an historic building, a heritage impact assessment may be required at the discretion of the Council to ascertain whether there are alternatives to demolition or removal. Notwithstanding the findings of the heritage impact assessment, the Town reserves its right to refuse the application for demolition or re-location; and the property owner has right of appeal.”

The Town’s contract awarding “peer review” status to ERA Architects says:

“It is expected that the preferred protective and mitigative measures will be consistent with the Lower Main Street South Heritage Conservation District Plan…”

Well, that’s been thrown out of the window for starters. Ordinary English usage does not apply in the rarefied world of planning where the word "consistent" clearly means exactly the opposite to what the rest of us think it means.

ERA suggests facades are OK. If the Town had wanted facades rather than the real thing it would have said so in its Heritage Conservation District Plan.

The comments look as if they were jotted down on the back of an envelope by someone with five minutes to spare between meetings. Where is “Park Street” for example?

We are told the height of the proposed new construction on Park Street (sic) is “appropriate”.

Where is the policy authority for such a statement? What reasons led ERA to say the proposed seven storeys on Park Street “is appropriate”?

The Town should reject this half-hearted commentary.

Truly, it is worse than useless.

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