Greater early engagement between developers and the ACT Heritage Council would improve the projects built on sites important to Canberra's history, the council's incoming chair says.
Dr Kenneth Heffernan said the council was very open to early engagement with developers looking to work on protected sites.
"Essentially, the future for places quite often depends on change and development because things don't just stay up themselves. Even the wind and gravity will knock them down, so we've got to think as much about the future as the past," Dr Heffernan said.
"The earlier that the Heritage Council's involved, the more likely is that the cost of dealing with heritage appropriately will be low."
Dr Heffernan, who was appointed chair of the council after serving as deputy chair, said early engagement with the council presented opportunities to improve proposed developments.
"When I say opportunities, I really mean it's not just opportunities to reduce the impact of heritage, it's opportunities to enhance the value of a development, make it more interesting," he said.
Dr Heffernan said adaptive reuse of the Yarralumla Brickworks and the Kingston powerhouse site, where the Kingston Arts Precinct is to be built, was a good thing.
"These are fantastic opportunities to make life extremely interesting, using some of the earliest parts of Canberra's infrastructure," he said.
"So it's about opportunities and making sure we get in early - there are plenty of options then and we can find alternatives if there's a difficulty."
Dr Heffernan said the proponents of the brickworks redevelopment, Doma, and the Kingston Arts Precinct, Geocon, had both engaged in regular meetings with the heritage council.
"That's the sort of thing I'd like to see. The earlier you get in and the more that there's a dialogue, the more efficient for everybody, and the lower the cost of getting a good result. I think in both of those cases there's been a lot of engagement and that's still going on," he said.
Discussions with Geocon for the Kingston project led to revised plans that saved a heritage-registered switch room, originally slated for demolition to make way for a multi-storey car park.
Dr Heffernan would also like to see greater engagement with Aboriginal heritage in Canberra, echoing comments made this week by new council member Caroline Hughes, a Ngunnawal elder.
Mrs Hughes said names of the territory's key landmarks, including Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie, should have dual names to reflect their Indigenous heritage, while the council needed to protect more key Ngunnawal sites.
Dr Heffernan said the heritage council should work to list more places of Indigenous heritage in the territory.
"I don't know how many places we can manage, we'll work with nominations that come to us. That's what I'd like to see, a really lively environment, one that ferments an interest in Aboriginal history and allows us to learn from Aboriginal people," he told the Sunday Canberra Times.
"Sometimes it's not as obvious as built heritage of the European kind. Sometimes there are nuances there are hard to understand. Places where Aboriginal people camp, there are artefacts left behind, but they need to be interpreted.
"Of course the very best interpreters of those places are Aboriginal people, who are our neighbours and friends, colleagues today. Interpretation is more important, but the decision of how to interpret and what to show is a decision for Aboriginal people themselves."
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