Gladesville hospital walk

Bedlam Bay community garden, Image M Flowers

Gladesville hospital, Image D Baglin

Peter Colthorpe, from Friends of Gladesville Hospital, led Hunters Hill Trust’s May walk.  He took 30 people through the site and introduced the main heritage buildings in the old asylum area, the foreshore and the cemetery.

Gladesville Hospital, originally known as Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum, was designed by the Colonial Architect, Mortimer Lewis.  The site contains many buildings that are listed on the Register of the National Estate.

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Latest edition of the journal

The latest edition of the Hunters Hill Trust Journal has been posted to all members.  You can also read Vol 56, No 1. May 2018 here.  It includes:

  • From the President’s desktop, Alister Sharp
  • Latest news on St Peter Chanel DA
  • New Local Planning Panels, Tony Coote
  • Save the Powerhouse
  • Fred Stamp (1926-2018)
  • Cultural heritage lottery, David Throsby
  • Mysterious George Hedgeland, Beverley Sherry
  • Battle to save Thompson Square, Windsor.
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Kelly’s bush: heritage conserved through protest

Image: NSW Portraits, OEH, 2018

‘Portrait of NSW’ 2018, published by Office of Environment and Heritage NSW celebrates the 40th anniversary of the NSW Heritage Act.  It recognises what has been achieved by community protest in the conservation of heritage and cites the Battle for Kelly’s Bush as an example.

Download ‘Portraits of NSW’ here.

Kelly’s Bush is now listed as an item on the NSW Heritage Register due to its ‘high local significance as a remnant of natural bushland located on the foreshores of the Parramatta River in Hunters Hill. The site has State significance as the site of the first “Green Bans” of the 1970s when a group of local residents enlisted the assistance of unions to oppose development of the site.’ See details of the heritage listing of Kelly’s Bush here.

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continued push to sell off church land

St Peter Chanel Church (image Wikimedia)

The Marist Fathers are pursuing their plan to create two 1,000 square meter housing blocks in the surrounds of St Peter Chanel Church, Woolwich.

Despite vigorous objections from the community and Hunters Hill Council’s refusal of their DA, the Marist Fathers have lodged an appeal in the Land and Environment Court to allow them to sell off the land.  This will damage the park-like setting which is is included in the heritage listing and part of the Conservation Area.

Here are the reasons that Council gave for refusing their DA.  Here is the letter of objection sent by the Hunters Hill Trust.

Everyone now needs to re-state their objections to DA 2017-1180 and send these to Hunters Hill Council clearly setting out what is at stake. Email: or write to PO Box 21, Hunters Hill, NSW 2110.  People who have previously sent written objections may be entitled to speak at the onsite conciliation conference on September 24.

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Military history of Hunters Hill

This month’s walk was our first look at the richness of military heritage in Hunters Hill.  We started at the War Memorial where our guide Rod Stewart explained its move from the corner of Ferry Street to its current location.  We inspected the rare German Howitzer – one of only six of its kind in the world – given to Hunters Hill in recognition of the great sacrifice residents had made in contributing more men per capita to WW1 than anywhere else in Australia!

HHT walkers (Image K Presland)

After a look at other military items housed in the Museum, we walked to the new memorial wall outside the RSL Hall which holds several plaques, including one made by Alan Somervillle, the sculptor of the soldiers on ANZAC bridge, and then we saw the Memorial Tree on Alexandra Street (who knew?) before arriving at All Saints Church.

There we were treated to a fascinating tour by Rev Michael Armstrong of the Church’s beautiful stained glass windows including those commemorating the fallen, including a rare set of windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by Morris & Co.  The touching human stories behind these beautiful memorials were truly inspiring.  A homemade morning tea provided for us by the RSL completed a fascinating and informative walk.

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Nowhere else in the world…

Powerhouse Museum (Image SMH)

No government anywhere in the world has ever moved a major state museum out of the city centre to a less accessible location.

Despite sustained community objections, AND universal support for a new museum in Parramatta, the NSW government has reportedly signed off on the ‘move’ of the Powerhouse Museum from its Ultimo location.

Why has the government has refused to release the business case?  In 2016-17 visitors to sporting events stayed for 2.6m visitor nights and contributed more than $909 million to the visitor economy. Cultural and heritage visitors stayed for 78.6 million nights and spent $12 billion.

NSW has had 25 years of over-investment in under-used stadiums which do little for jobs in the visitor economy. The last time Sydney opened a major new museum was in 1988 when the Powerhouse opened. 30 years later, it is ready to demolish this museum.  Why?   Ask the Premier here.   Get more info from the Powerhouse Museum Alliance.

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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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“Killing us softly with your pong”

“killing us softly with your pong”

“$$$ + politics = over development”

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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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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