DERWENT VALLEY COUNCIL
The Derwent Valley Council welcomes the announcement that the Willow Court Barracks Precinct and Frescati House at New Norfolk are to be assessed by the Australian Heritage Council for possible inclusion in the National Heritage List.
Mayor Martyn Evans said that two of the buildings in the precinct were older than those at Port Arthur and were deserving of national recognition. The main building at Willow Court was built as an invalid barracks in 1830, designed by the convict architect John Lee Archer. Nearby Frescati House was built for Colonial Secretary John Burnett in 1834 at a time when the colonial governors favoured New Norfolk as their summer retreat. Both became part of a much larger hospital site that closed in 2000-01.
"The entire site has local and state heritage listing as well as being included on the Register of the National Estate which was the highest standard prior to the establishing of the National Heritage List," Councillor Evans said. "With only 124 places included on the list as it stands, we know it will be a rigorous assessment process but the council has no doubt about the national significance of Willow Court both as a convict site and for the story it tells about developments in the understanding and treatment of mental health and intellectual disability over a period of 170 years," Cr Evans said.
"Council understands that the assessment process may take as long as two years but we will not be sitting on our hands in the meantime," Cr Evans said. "Having recently expended more than $1.5 million on urgent conservation works at the Barracks and Bronte House, the council is exploring all options to continue that work. With our own funds exhausted, we are about to embark on a world-wide expression of interest process," he said.
Mayor Evans said the council was deeply appreciative of the interest shown by the Federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, and the Federal Member for Lyons, Eric Hutchinson MP, as well as State Cabinet members who visited the site last month. "Council sees the sensitive development of the Willow Court site as one of the keys to the future prosperity of the Derwent Valley. Our ultimate goal is to see Willow Court take its rightful place among the 11 other Australian Convict Sites on the World Heritage List," Mayor Evans concluded.