Altering heritage items: ‘taking it like a man’

from Tony Coote, HHT’s representative on Hunters Hill Council’s Conservation Advisory Panel (CAP)

One thing I’ve noticed over the years in relation to alterations and additions to heritage items and proposed works in conservation areas is that the proponents of such works (architects, usually) use the Burra Charter Article 22 New work (22.2) “New work should be readily identifiable as such” to justify completely unsympathetic work that pays no respect to the item or its surrounds.

In making this spurious case they completely ignore the second part of item 22.2 : “but must respect and have minimal impact on the cultural significance of the place” (ie the building and its surrounds).   They also generally ignore item 22.1 “New work such as additions or other changes to the place may be acceptable where it respects and does not distort or obscure the cultural significance of the place, or detract from its interpretation and appreciation.”

Yale University Art Gallery (image Wikimedia)

Tom Wolfe in From Bauhaus to Our House is scathing of Louis Kahn’s addition to the Yale University Art Gallery, which, I think, epitomises the misrepresentation of the Burra Charter I’m talking about.  Kahn’s work is on the left.  The existing building was built 25 years before in 1928.  When questioned by the Yale administrators about his design, Kahn is quoted by Wolfe:

“What do you mean, “It has nothing to do with the existing building”?  You don’t understand?  You don’t see it?  You don’t see the string courses?  They express the floor lines of the existing building.  They reveal the structure.  For a quarter of a century, those floors have been hidden behind masonry, completely concealed.  Now they will be unconcealed.  Honest form – beauty, as you choose to call it – can only result from unconcealed structure!  Unconcealed structure?  Did he say unconcealed structure?  

Baffled but somehow intimidated, as if by Cagliostro* or a Jacmel hoongan*, the Yale administration yielded to the destiny of architecture and took it like a man.  Administrators, directors, boards of trustees, municipal committees, and executive officers have been taking it like men ever since.”

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Military heritage of Hunters Hill: a guided walk

Howitzer captured in France 1918

This month’s guided walk will be led by Rod Stewart of the Hunters Hill RSL and also by Rev Michael Armstrong from All Saints Church.  We will visit some well known and lesser known sites of military significance in Hunters Hill.

When:  Sunday April 29th


FREE for all members of the Hunters Hill Trust and members of Hunters Hill Historical Society.  $10 for guests.  Morning tea will be provided.  New members are welcome.

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Hal Missingham exhibition

recent publication  by Lou Klepac

Hal Missingham artist, photographer, author and Director of the Art Gallery of NSW (1945-71) lived in Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill. Hal was the first permanent director of the Art Gallery of NSW to fully embrace modernism, although he faced much resistance from the conservative members of the board of trustees. His collection policy at the Gallery made an outstanding contribution to Australian contemporary art.

Exhibition of paintings, lithographs, sketchbooks

When:  Sat 21st April 1-4pm, Sun 22nd April 2-4pm, Sun 29th April 2-4pm.

Where:  Vienna Cottage, 38 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill

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“Killing us softly with your pong”

“killing us softly with your pong”

“$$$ + politics = over development”



Best seller:

Graffiti on this hoarding in front of one of the many high rise apartment buildings that are being built along Victoria Road, Gladesville expresses some of the rage, disgust and grief that people are feeling about the rampant, unsympathetic over-development in our midst.

Would you choose to live smack bang on this footpath, inhaling toxic fumes, and hearing trucks roar past interminably?

The authors have attributed blame to Hunters Hill and Ryde Councils, which actually have very limited capacity to influence outcomes since the NSW government changed the planning rules.  Anthony Roberts, member for Lane Cove and Minister for Housing, Planning and Special Minister of State has his electoral offices just a few blocks down the road.

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Affordable rental housing

The Hunters Hill Trust fully recognises the need for affordable rental housing in Sydney and we are not opposed to affordable housing being located in the Hunters Hill LGA where the zoning is appropriate. As well, we are not opposed to Boarding Houses being built in Hunters Hill.

However a number of DAs for boarding houses have recently been submitted under the SEPP Affordable Rental Housing as a way of developing sites that would otherwise be too small and unsuitable.  We do not accept that this is affordable rental housing because there is nothing either in the LEP definition or in the SEPP to determine a rent cap that might be applied.  They will be rented out at the going market rate.

How far have we ‘progressed‘ since these affordable housing options were developed for low income families a couple of hundred years ago?

cottages in Blaise hamlet built in 1811 to house retired servants of Blaise Castle (Image: National Trust UK)

WH Lever built Port Sunlight village for his soap factory workers 1899-1914. 800 houses for 3,500 residents (Image:The Guardian)










There are many reasons why Council should reject the current DA for a boarding house at 2 Flagstaff Street Gladesville, including:

  • over development of the site
  • non-compliance with key aspects of the planning controls
  • location is an increasingly busy shopping area service street and unsuitable for this type of development
  • lack of alternative emergency exits and potential for disaster if there is a fire
  • adverse impact on the neighbourhood (not enough car parking, overlooking adjoining property, lack of architectural merit, would prevent potential amalgamation with adjacent sites to allow a more rational re-development of the site).

See the Trust’s detailed submission to Council.

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Looking at architecture: Hunters Hill day

Waiwera (image Wiki commons)

Charles Jeanneret

The National Trust is conducting a guided tour of heritage buildings in Hunters Hill that will focus on Wybalena 1895, Waiwera 1878-9 and Wyralla c1900 that were all built by CE Jeanneret.

When: 10:30am – 12noon or 1pm – 3pm, Tuesday 10th April.

Visit the National Trust website for tickets and further details.

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Resurgence of boarding houses: why?

NYC boarding house 1943 (Image: Esther Bubley)

There are currently two DAs at Hunters Hill Council for boarding houses in Gladesville and a bunch in Ryde, one of which, at 126 Victoria Road, Gladesville has just been approved by the Land and Environment Court.  I have never come across a single application for a boarding house in my local area before.

What’s happening?

Could it be a scam designed to twist the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP for the benefit of developers, allowing them to construct bed sitting rooms with their own kitchens and bathrooms and minimum off-street parking?

The Standard Instrument LEP defines a Boarding House as a building that:

(a)  is wholly or partly let in lodgings, and

(b)  provides lodgers with a principal place of residence for 3 months or more, and

(c)  may have shared facilities, such as a communal living room, bathroom, kitchen or laundry, and

(d)  has rooms, some or all of which may have private kitchen and bathroom facilities, that accommodate one or more lodgers,

but does not include backpackers’ accommodation, a group home, hotel or motel accommodation, seniors housing or a serviced apartment.

I don’t see anything about ensuring that the accommodation should be particularly for those on low incomes, for whom boarding houses were originally designed, nor any way that this could be policed.    There is a prohibition on strata or community title subdivision of the boarding house in the SEPP, however, I don’t see how the owner of a boarding house would want to build such a place unless they could rent it out at the highest possible rate.  Also, as others are finding out across Sydney, the potential for using the units for Airbnb rental is not policed.

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‘no’ to the Gladesville Planning Proposal

What do you think of having a 54 meter high building (approx 18 storeys with 280 units) at Gladesville shops?

The developer of the Gladesville Shopping Village (GSV) site lodged a Planning Proposal (PP) to Council seeking to increase the height and density allowed at the site. This was refused by Council. The developer took the matter to the State Government which has now said that the PP can proceed, subject to conditions (see the Gateway Determination).

Hunters Hill Council is now asking for community comments on how Council could change the planning controls and allow a building that is higher than what is currently permitted.

The Trust does not support any change that would increase the density of the site over and above what is allowed in the current LEP.  There can be no proper consideration given to changing the planning controls until a Master Plan is in place for the whole site.   Read the Trust’s submission to Council here.

We are deeply concerned about many aspects of the GSV saga, including:

  • poor quality of life for residents (see comments from elderly residents)
  • overshadowing and massive scale
  • adverse impact on pedestrians
  • lack of a cohesive plan with other current developments
  • pressure on local infrastructure
  • traffic gridlock
  • loss of heritage.

Community members are encouraged to send their comments  to before Tuesday 20th March.

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another Master Plan for Gladesville?

(image: NDIS)

The community has been increasingly angry and frustrated about the mish-mash of developments in Gladesville that threaten to create long term problems and reduce quality of life.

Hunters Hill Council has decided to develop a new master plan for Gladesville.  Whatever happened to the Gladesville Master Plan that was carefully worked out – with its pedestrian-only laneway, shops and cafes?

Councillors agreed that a new Plan will focus on:

  • Developing active frontages along Victoria Rd with appropriate connectivity into the Gladesville key site
  • Building an overarching vision for development of land, particularly between Pittwater Rd and Batemans Rd fronting Victoria Rd
  • Pedestrian access into and out of the site; including Investigating an above ground walkway from Trim Place into the Gladesville Village amongst other connectivity priorities into the surrounding residential areas
  • Alleviating pressure from increased traffic flows stemming from development in the Gladesville precinct
  • Developing a public pedestrian plaza along Massey lane with appropriate connectivity to the key site/shopping village and Victoria Rd

Read More »

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Boarding house proposed for narrow site

2 Flagstaff St Gladesville

Hunters Hill Council is currently reviewing a Development Application for the construction of a boarding house that would provide accommodation for 12 people and a manager on a narrow 450 square meter site at 2 Flagstaff Street, Gladesville.

Each person will have accommodation ranging from 15-25 square meters in size.  There will be parking for 4 cars.

Check the detailed plans and documents here.  Submissions on Flagstaff St boarding house DA 2018 1009 should be sent to by Friday 16th March 2018.

Read the Trust’s detailed submission about 2 Flagstaff Street here.

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