What is happening to public spaces in Hunters Hill?

The Trust’s concerns:

  • Special interest groups are being given special access to these places without proper consideration for the overall public interest.
  • Council is more concerned about being seen to save money than achieving design excellence – the new shed at Weil Park is an example of this.
  • Things are allowed to happen without any proper planning or oversight.  The debacle of oval No 3 at Boronia Park is the prime example of this.
  • There are also many unanswered questions about the Rugby Club’s plans for a clubhouse on the edge of No 2 Oval.

One small example of the lack of planning in our parks is the location of the bench near the Boronia Park play area – it faces away from the swings and slippery dips.  As a result it’s not a good place to sit if you want to make sure your grandson isn’t using the swing to murder his sister.

The Cricket Club’s proposal for Boronia Park is another more serious example of this lack.  Council is being asked to approve this, even though its own design review committee, the Conservation Advisory Panel, was scathing about it.  Clearly CAP was too polite in its language.  We should have called the thing the dog that it is.

  • Is this the best place for a storage shed when it’s right on the perimeter of the main oval in full view of everyone?
  • Would it be better located as part of an existing structure – for example as an extension to the existing grandstand?
  • Would be better tucked away near the water tank?
  • Is this the best location for park users for more barbeque facilities and picnic shelters?
  • Is a big area of painted concrete the most appropriate surface to be plonked into a grassy area.
  • Why would anyone build a dinky flower box in the middle of a park?
  • And is institutional yellow the most appropriate colour for a picnic shelter?

You could come up with more.  But, let’s face it, this proposal is in no way a considered, well designed response to a facility within a heritage-listed park.

We know that it’s possible to do a whole lot better than this.  The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and The National Parks and Wildlife Service are two bodies that properly manage the stewardship of public assets.  Take a look at how the paths and landscaping at Woolwich dock have been designed and compare that to the cricket shed.

The Trust urges Council to consider tonight’s proposal in the broader light of how Hunters Hill will be seen as a steward of public places.

We urge Council to take excellence rather than thrift as a proper goal to strive for.

Hunters Hill will be judged as to how well it has fulfilled its role as a guardian of Public Places when the inevitable question of amalgamation comes up.

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