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Developers win again in Watson

By sepi - 29 August 2008 33

The Chronicle brings news that the battle to retain Australian Heritage Village as a community asset has been lost.

The government has agreed to rezone this large block as a residential area, bringing a substantial windfall to the owner, developer Bob Winnell. Bob says the business was never viable, and says he is not in the business of subsidising unviable businesses. So why did he buy this block?

It is true that both Australian Heritage Park and the former Canberry Fair went bust in this location. But that was in the days when Watson was the end of Canberra, and the park was in a lonely spot across the one lane Federal Hwy. These days, with all the units nearly surrounding it, and Gungahlin just down the road, I think a nice big enclosed grassy area with a few kiddie rides, bbqs, antique shops, lollie shops, pony rides, ponds and a pub would go down a treat with the locals. (I still miss Clancy’s, the pub you could walk your dog to and tie them up outside.)

There are some formalities to go through, with the rezoning not quite final, but it seems that another community resource is disappearing. There is not a lot for families to do in the inner North, and I am sad that the Heritage Village isn’t getting one last chance to shine.

What’s Your opinion?


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33 Responses to
Developers win again in Watson
ant 7:56 pm 30 Aug 08

Any piece of land now is valuable for real estate. Snow bought an airport, and found he could make more by becoming a property developer. The burgeoning population is hungry for land.

miz 5:09 pm 30 Aug 08

This is sad. Must we ‘infill’ every spare space? Soon this city will be so infilled it will belie the ‘Live in Canberra’ marketing (not that I thought it actually gave a realistic impression anyway, unless you live in walking distance of LBG or a winery).

Felix the Cat 12:07 pm 30 Aug 08

Sepi – if you reckon the Heritage Village is viable then why don’t you buy the land and re-open it?

Years ago I went to Canberry Fair and rode the roller coaster, it was crap, one of the worst I’ve ever been on.

The pub Clancys was OK though, just not what Canberrans want I suppose. There does seem to be an oversupply though, of venues in Canberra that serve alcohol.

Deano 11:58 am 30 Aug 08

sepi said :

The real story is that the owner has deliberately chosen to do nothing with this site for 10 years. He has let it fall into wrack and ruin, and now uses the dilapidated state as a reason to turn it into housing.

Interesting theory but if the place was making money why would you let it run down? And why would you invest money in a place that wasn’t going to be profitable?

Presumably he bought it for a bargain price, befitting a block zoned for entertainment, and needing a lot of work. So does he at least have to pay a betterment tax or something for getting to build a new suburb on it?

Presumably the previous owners sold it to him for a fair price at the time for a block zoned for accommodation and entertainment on the outskirts of town.

He would have to pay a betterment tax as part of the rezoning but the tax is based on the current value of the land, not what he may have originally paid for it.

Sands 10:21 am 30 Aug 08

My first concert was watching the Choirboys at Canberry Fair one day. Best day ever.

sepi 10:19 am 30 Aug 08

The real story is that the owner has deliberately chosen to do nothing with this site for 10 years. He has let it fall into wrack and ruin, and now uses the dilapidated state as a reason to turn it into housing.

Presumably he bought it for a bargain price, befitting a block zoned for entertainment, and needing a lot of work. So does he at least have to pay a betterment tax or something for getting to build a new suburb on it?

simbo 9:55 am 30 Aug 08

Yep, I have fond memories of it as a thing what I visited when coming to my grandparents (who lived here in the 80s when I was a Wollongong boy)… Even loved the swan ride and the

On the other hand, nobody has been able to do anything with the site at all for about 15 years, so … it’s not spectacularly surprising that it’s turning into a housing development really…

Thumper 9:03 am 30 Aug 08

I used to put my kids on that dinky swan ride, they loved it.

Wide Boy Jake 5:00 am 30 Aug 08

I remember the Canberra Beer Belly Championship there on Australia Day 1988. Imagine if anybody tried to stage such an event nowadays!

Duke 12:29 am 30 Aug 08

Fond memories here of the Gravatron, the Swan ride, the Space Shuttle and the half-arsed rollercoaster. I was never old enough to drink in the bar.

Pandy 12:13 am 30 Aug 08

Build a bridge and git over it.

Deano 10:37 pm 29 Aug 08

ant said :

Canberry Fair was a lot of fun. I remember spending new year’s eve there, with a huge crowd of people, Goanna played the midnight spot.

Dude, Goanna broke up nearly 25 years ago. If the place hasn’t been a go’er in that period of time, its never going to be.

Granny said :

I always think that when a business I liked folds – why didn’t I go there more often?

The various owners of the business probably had the same thoughts.

Granny 10:33 pm 29 Aug 08

I loved Canberry Fair and the Heritage Village. We probably didn’t go there enough. I always think that when a business I liked folds – why didn’t I go there more often? And then it happens again, and I haven’t changed anything.

kean van choc 10:33 pm 29 Aug 08

I remember being very, very jealous at my (slightly) older sister being allowed to go the that Goanna NYE gig, Ant. Solid rock!

I do recall, though, catching the Uncanny X-men doing a free afternoon gig there once…

ant 10:11 pm 29 Aug 08

Canberry Fair was a lot of fun. I remember spending new year’s eve there, with a huge crowd of people, Goanna played the midnight spot. Later, I waitered there at Clancy’s, and learned some very useful recipes (lemon sorbet frozen into bowls, served, and then champagne poured over at the table for instance).

I was born that end of watson, we had the paddocks behind the houses, endless interesting expanses of grass and dirt and fences. I guess we can’t have stuff like that now, working families must have large houses and small yards, and their children must not enounter any risk or danger. Or fun.

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