Camden’s mysterious heritage list

A 1915 view of Commercial Banking Co building at corner of Argyle and John Street Camden

A 1915 view of Commercial Banking Co building at corner of Argyle and John Street Camden

Recently I needed to consult Camden’s heritage inventory list for a research project. I also consulted similar lists for Campbelltown and Wollondilly LGAs. They were easy to find.
Camden’s list was mysteriously hiding somewhere. It had to exist. The council is obliged to put one together by the state government.
But where was it? Do you know where Camden Council’s heritage inventory is to be found? I did not know.
So off I went on a treasure hunt. The treasure was the heritage list.

Cobbity's St Paul's Anglican Church 1910 (Camden Images)

Cobbity’s St Paul’s Anglican Church 1910 (Camden Images)

A simple search on the council’s website using the keyword ‘heritage’ revealed a list of links about heritage with the most useful information being listed on page 3 under the heading ‘heritage information’. This webpage provided some useful guidelines and some links that were out of date and did not work anymore.

 

Camden Valley Inn, Camden, c.1938 (Camden Images)

Camden Valley Inn, Camden, c.1938 (Camden Images)

The ‘heritage information’ page stated that ‘Camden’s heritage is made up of a combination of significant places, buildings, works, relics, moveable objects and precincts’. But alas no list of heritage items or list of the heritage inventory.
The intrepid researcher is directed to a document called Camden DCP 2011. So what does this mean? For the uninitiated this is the Camden Development Control Plan 2011 and on page 57 there is a list of ‘potential heritage items –built heritage’. So we have found the potential list?   Was this the mysterious list. Well not really as there are other lists. Confused? Well you are not alone. So I kept searching. All dead ends. I must say council’s website is very convoluted and legalistic. Not very user friendly at all.

Macquarie Grove Airfield 1930s Camden (Camden Images)

Macquarie Grove Airfield 1930s Camden (Camden Images)

As a seasoned researcher I tried another tactic. Lets try the link to the NSW Heritage Branch of the NSW Government’s Office of Heritage and Environment off the council’s page. From past experience I have found after some trial and error that this website for the State Heritage Inventory can be very useful. If you just do a search using the keyword just for the Camden LGA then it reveals that there are 14 items listed under the NSW Heritage Act and 166 listed by ‘Local Government Agency’ without stating what that agency is. Each heritage item has a standard format for listing with detailed information. This was more productive than a search of the council’s website. Was it the mysterious list I was looking for? No unfortunately.

Maybe we should try the tourism webpage. Not bad and the council must be commended on its contribution to the 2015 Macarthur Visitors Guide and the supporting website. It is user friendly providing a range of historic and other attractions including the Camden Museum. But it was not the mysterious heritage list.
Yet our friends at Campbelltown are able to access their city’s heritage list on a simple internet search under the heading ‘Heritage Items in Campbelltown’. The heritage items are listed by suburb and are easy to access. Each items has a separate page with a summary of images, history and description, condition and use, heritage significance, heritage listing. Unfortunately no such list exists on the Camden Council website.

 

Central Camden c1930s (Camden Images)

Central Camden c1930s (Camden Images)

Further down the road in the Wollondilly LGA a simple web search reveals a page titled ‘heritage’ with a straight forward link to the council’s heritage lists in the 2011 Wollondilly LEP. Similar links on the Camden Council website appear not to exist.
Using this experience I searched for the Camden LEP 2010 and sure enough found the Camden Heritage List in this document is found in Schedule 5 after some looking around. Aha! Daylight and success at last.It was not easy. But I did find the mysterious heritage list I was looking for. It took a lot of searching which should have been unnecessary.
Camden Council’s spokesperson Lisa Howard Senior Project Officer – Heritage and Place Coordination stated in an email to me recently that ‘council is unfortunately not in a position at present to provide information on individual heritage items on its website’. She directed me to the Heritage Information page of the council’s website which I have discussed earlier. Ms Howard also stated in earlier correspondence that it was council policy ‘To ensure that the information is up to date, it should not be a separate database on Council’s website’. Meaning that council has no intention of providing a separate listing of local heritage items.

 

Bank of NSW, 1938, Argyle St, Camden the route of the Hume Highway (I Willis)

Bank of NSW, 1938, Argyle St, Camden the route of the Hume Highway (I Willis)

This is really a cop out by Camden Council. If it is good enough for Campbelltown Council to have summary listings why not Camden Council. Why not do what Wollondilly Council has done on a simple web link. Camden Council is located in one of the most historic areas in Australia for European settlement. The local area is part of the foundation story of the nation.

 

Cooks Garage in Argyle Street Camden the route of the Hume Highway c.1936 (Camden Images)

Cooks Garage in Argyle Street Camden the route of the Hume Highway c.1936 (Camden Images)

So we come back to the starting point. There needs to be a simple and easily accessible list of heritage sites in the local area. It is unfortunate that Camden Council seems to think that this is not important, while surrounding councils find the time and effort to supply easily accessible links to similar information. Camden Council can do better than this.

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For those who do not want to go through the stress of finding these links here they are.
Camden council’s heritage inventory located in Schedule 5 of the 2010 DCP or for the uninitiated – which is most of us – Development Control Plan. Click here
For those who are interested the Campbelltown Heritage Inventory click here and the for the Wollondilly Heritage List click here

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2 thoughts on “Camden’s mysterious heritage list

  1. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting for those of us who are interested in this information. What a shame Camden Council cannot provide this information. Unfortunately this seems to be typical of the council’s attitude.

  2. I had the same problem. Ditto trying to find the Significant Tree Register which has also been removed (had to make a formal request for a CD copy). These omissions of heritage, both built and environmental, would appear convenient, considering the wilful destruction occurring (to both) during Camden Council’s ill-conceived ‘upgrade’ of what was a functioning commercial centre in a unique streetscape. If indeed, these omissions and the difficulty negotiating the site (try finding any regulations relating to amenity), then Camden Council is seriously hindering its community’s right to information, and undermining this country’s democratic principles. I would suggest that Council paste and copy what is on the LEP 2010 to its website. What part of that is ‘not possible’? Thank you for bringing Camden Council’s ‘dark reasoning’ into the light.

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