Timeline for Heritage status

LEP – Local Environment Plan. This document includes listing of heritage places.
DA = Development Application. A DA is required for all development work on the site.

1998:    

Shoalhaven Heritage Study, prepared by Peter Freeman Pty Ltd for Shoalhaven City Council, included ‘Holy Trinity Anglican Church Group’

1999:    

‘Holy Trinity Heritage Group’, recorded in State Heritage Register, SHI Number 239389. This is not a formal listing, but an indication of early interest in the precinct.

2001:  

Anglican church contacts Shoalhaven City Council urging it not to list the property.

2005:    

Draft LEP lodged with Dept of Planning included ‘Holy Trinity Anglican Church Group.’

Following representations from the Anglican Church, Shoalhaven City Council commenced steps to have it removed from the Draft LEP.[1]

16th Feb: Extraordinary Meeting of Shoalhaven City Council resolved to seek return of Draft LEP Plan 1985, from Minister to enable Council to review it.

7th June: Greg Watson, Mayor, to GRS Kyngdon, assistant to the Bishop of Wollongong: ‘I have taken steps to have this building removed from the Draft LEP and I would strongly suggest that you make representations to the Minister…as she has the Heritage LEP on her desk.’

23 August: Shoalhaven City Council voted to remove many PROPOSED items from the draft LEP, including ‘Holy Trinity Anglican Church Group.’ Over half the number of items for removal were in Huskisson.

2006:    

May: Dept of Planning wrote to Shoalhaven City Council advising that NSW Heritage Council ‘strongly objected’ to removal of items, including the church.

 August: Shoalhaven City Council justified its decision on two grounds: a. ‘sufficient similar items’ (Victoria Gothic Carpenter Style, Sussex Inlet and Victorian Gothic Revival Style church, Milton); b. listing may inhibit plans for Huskisson as a tourist gateway…;

2007:    

February. Anglican Church informed Shoalhaven City Council it didn’t want the listing.

LEP gazetted, without the church group. Numerous Huskisson items recommended by staff were deleted by elected Council.

A heated debate in Council. Concern that so many items deleted were in Huskisson. Watson said that unless items were ‘extremely significant’ the wishes of the owner should be given precedence.[2]

   July: Community enquiries made to NSW Heritage Branch. Informal advice given that community could apply for an IHO as the Blacket church may be of State significance.[3]  Community members decide not to pursue this after the local church wardens write to allay public concerns that it would sell the property, claiming ‘wardens have always recognized that there is significant cultural heritage in the main Huskisson Church building and that this is an important factor for many members of our congregations and the local community.’

2012: 

Special Development Meeting of Shoalhaven City Council. Staff recommend heritage listing of the church site. [4]

2014: 

 Updated LEP gazetted, without the church. Listings for Huskisson confined to the Huskisson Hotel, the Literary Institute (now picture theatre) The Lady Denman ferry and several private cottages.

2018:    

23rd August: Strategic planner, Gordon Clark, to Cr Levett:  ‘because it is not listed does not mean that the heritage significance of the Church group will not require closer consideration or raise issues/concerns as part of any future rezoning or DA…Graves on site may be ‘relics’ under the NSW Heritage Act.’             

12th September: Maureen Webb made a submission to the NSW Heritage Council requesting an Interim Heritage Order over the site. Community petition commenced. ’calls on the Shoalhaven City Council to do everything in its power to preserve the (former) Holy Trinity Church Group.’

13th September: Commenced a public petition:

27th September: DA18/2102 submitted to Shoalhaven City Council – developer proposes DEMOLITION of the church and other buildings on the site. Attachments to this DA include a document ‘Heritage Management Strategy’ – a developer funded study commissioned from GB Heritage. This agrees with the developer’s proposals and argues the church can be demolished.

4th October: National Trust, NSW indicated it is preparing to put Holy Trinity Church Group to its listing committee.

8th October:  Local CCB (Community Consultative Body) ‘Huskisson -Woollamia Community Voice’ voted 21 – 6 endorsing ‘the community petition (See wording above)

16th October: Extraordinary Meeting of Shoalhaven City Council. Council reaffirms its ‘strong opposition’ to listing of the Anglican Church [NB. No mention of the ‘church group’] Council votes on motion of Crs Watson/Guile to resend a 2006 letter to NSW Heritage Office, to inform NSW Heritage Council of its continuing opposition to listing of the site.

17th October:  Save Husky Church campaign receives knowledge of new research establishing that there were Indigenous burials in the graveyard, including James Golding, known as King Budd Billy II, King of Jervis Bay, buried 1905. This increases heritage significance of the block.

18th October. Developer Stephen Bartlet amends DA to demolish, to now propose ‘temporary’ movement of the Blacket Church to a new location on the site.  

21st October: Save Husky Church campaign sends information to NSW Heritage Office of burial on the site of James Golding, King Budd Billy II, King of Jervis Bay.  

7th November: NSW Heritage Council recommends that the Minister place an Interim Heritage Order over the property for 12 months to give all parties time to establish the facts.

22nd November: National Trust NSW informs Shoalhaven City Council it intends to list the property on its Register.

December: GB Heritage submits a second study, ‘Heritage Assessment’, that alters the storyline. This new study appears to favour the changing needs of the developer and use the new knowledge established by the Save Husky Church group.

December: NSWC Heritage Minister Gabriel Upton requests the NSW Heritage Council to ‘reconsider’ its recommendation.

2019:    

5th February: A letter from the NSW Heritage Branch informing the Shoalhaven City Council of this new direction contains suggestions that Council reconsider its opposition to listing on the LEP and urges it to consult with its community, including its Indigenous community. 

6th February: NSW Heritage Council withdraws recommendation for an IHO.

2nd April: Shoalhaven City Council Dev & Environment – letter tabled from Frank Howarth, Chair of NSW Heritage Council, urging consideration of listing on LEP, and of consulting with community, including Indigenous community. This is similar to the earlier letter, but stronger. Shoalhaven City Council, with several Councillors absent, votes to begin process to heritage list property on LEP (This decision rescinded at the April 30th Council meeting)

30th April: Community petition signed by 2851 people in favour of a heritage listing over the site tabled at Shoalhaven City Council. Council ignores this and votes to rescind 2nd April motion. Motions passed stating that there be no heritage listing of this site at either state or local level.

13th May: issue raised at Shoalhaven City Council Aboriginal Advisory Committee.  Jerringa Local Aboriginal Council put in a submission to the DA asking for 6 months to establish what graves are where and to do family oral investigation. This is ignored by Shoalhaven City Council.

4th June: Shoalhaven City Council Dev & Environment approves DA 18/2102 to demolish the Church Hall (which incorporates the original Union Church) and move the 1931 Blacket church onsite. Documentation attached to the DA includes information relevant to the intended final development of the site – 4 storey buildings, conference centre, commercial space. The community believes this development could not occur without substantial demolitions, removal of vegetation, ground disturbance, desecration of graves and overall destruction of the heritage of the site.

The specifics of the DA were limited to moving the church and demolishing the hall and some old sheds. This DA specifically stated that no vegetation would be destroyed and no ground disturbance made in areas where ground penetrating radar had not been undertaken. The limited scope of works made it difficult for the planners to claim any significant destruction of trees, overshadowing etc. etc. This splitting off of preliminary work has angered local understanding as it does not reflect the true intentions for the block.

Subsequent actions on the block included felling of trees using the 45-degree rule and soil disturbance. The apparent protections in the Consent were meaningless.

Any movements could interfere with graves because despite his claims the developer does not yet know where all the graves are, and ground penetration radar surveys have been partial. The hall is probably the oldest building in Huskisson, and its specific heritage values had yet to be determined.

22nd July: Huskisson Heritage Association again requests NSW Heritage Council and/or Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to a. List the property and b. place a stop work order over it as demolition of the church hall is imminent. Refused.

2020:    

20th January:  Shoalhaven City Council Dev & Environment votes to progress Planning Proposal, Rezoning to Gateway stage. This proposes heights up to 16 meters. Council ignores advice of own planning staff to undertake consultation, get independent reports etc. before progressing.

 30th April: State Planning asks for new studies and surveys, including a full ground penetrating radar survey of the site.

c.June: Jerrinja Local Aboriginal Land Council made application to the Commonwealth government under the ‘Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act’ ‘seeking long term preservation & Protection of the whole block as a significnt Aborigina area…under threat of injury or desecration.’ To date no official response has been provided.

2021:

June 26: HHA reapplied to the NSW Heritage Council to list the property on the State Heritage Register or to recommend local listing. This re-application followed receipt by the Shoalhaven City Council of a Ground Penetration Radar survey (Hunter Geophysics, March 20201) that found ‘a total of fifty-eight areas have been identified that are likely to be unmarked graves, along with an additional fifteen areas that may also be unmarked graves.’ [p.22]

30th June: HHA applied to NSW Heritage Council not to grant Shoalhaven City Council an excavation permit under the NSW Heritage Act. This exemption will permit machinery onto the land to ‘scrape’ the areas to a depth of 300mm where graves have been indicated to ‘prove’ their presence.

2022:

March 14: NSW Heritage Council grants Shoalhaven City Council permission to scrape

April 11: Shoalhaven City Council resolves not to permit ‘scraping’ and to commence heritage listing the block.

August 31: Private developer goes over the head of the Shoalhaven City Council and gets permission to ‘scrape’, but only after consultation with the local Indigenous community. The developer says scraping will occur ‘soon.’

November 15: Federal government places a temporary (30 Day) protection order over the site

Currently: This is where things stand. The property remains zoned SP2 for religious uses, but still has no heritage protection


[1] GRS Kyngdon to Mayor Watson, 2nd June 2005, Shoalhaven City Council1106-05

[2] Alex Arnold, South Coast Register, 11th July 2007

[3] Phone advice from Bronwyn Hanna, NSW Heritage Office, info contained in e-mail, Bronwyn Oliver to Maureeen Webb, 16 July 2007.

[4] Shoalhaven City Council, Special Development Meeting, 21st May 2012, to consider Draft SLEP 2009- 21, Issue 4 Huskisson Church. Proposed zoning SP2 -place of worship. (current documentation, July 2019 lists SP2 as ‘infrastructure’ and Current DCP allows development on the site of similar density to main street.