Louis Andrews April 17, 2012
Community groups have lost a bid to take the fight over heritage listing of the old Flynn Primary School site to the ACT Supreme Court.
In February last year the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal upheld a decision not to grant the school heritage listing.
The John Flynn Group and the Flynn Primary School Parents and Citizens Association had sought leave to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.
Justice John Burns rejected their bid this morning, but noted the option was still open for the groups to make a fresh application to the Heritage Council.
The case hinged, in part, on the interpretation of the word “community” in the Heritage Act 2004.
Lawyers for the community groups had argued the word had a “more flexible meaning”, and could refer to smaller groups within the territory.
“Indeed, they go so far as to submit it may also expand to encompass those outside the territory,” Justice Burns wrote.
But the judge rejected that submission, in his reasons published today, and agreed the law referred to the people of the ACT.
“As the Heritage Act is an ACT enactment it would seem to follow that the legislature intended that single, identifiable entity to be the ACT community,”
“To hold, as the appellants submit, that the phrase “the community” is sufficiently elastic to expand to supra-territorial and infra-territorial groups of persons would be to make the act unworkable.”
“As the [ACT government] points out, such an interpretation would lead to almost all public places being “valued” by one community or another.”
Justice Burns also refused to allow fresh evidence because it was only available after the tribunal made its decision to uphold the council’s decision.
The community groups had sought to rely on the school’s inclusion on the Australian Ainstitute of Architects ACT Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture.
But the listing was only granted a month after the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal made its ruling.
A stoush over the fate of the school has raged for years.
Designed by renowned architect Enrico Taglietti, the school opened in the 1970s but was shut down in 2006 as part of the ACT Government's city-wide school closures.
The group has argued the school, which has links to John Flynn and the Royal Flying Doctor Service he founded, has architectural and cultural significance to the community.