19 April 2024

Gold Creek heritage scare but developers sticking to community deal

| Ian Bushnell
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The remnant buildings of the Gold Creek Homestead site.

The remnant buildings of the Gold Creek Homestead site. It looks worse than it is, says Keyton and the Suburban Land Agency. Photos: Kay Beagle.

The developer of the Gold Creek Homestead Precinct retirement village project in Ngunnawal has reassured the community it has not demolished more of the site’s heritage buildings than agreed to in the development consultation.

Nearby residents were alarmed recently at how little was left, with some taking their concerns to social media and to the National Trust.

The Trust’s Eric Martin said the records needed to be checked to see if the developers had gone too far.

“There is genuine concern from the Trust’s point of view that it appears more has been demolished than what we understood was intended to be retained,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that heritage of Gungahlin is being eroded further.”

READ ALSO Work starts on Goodwin’s latest retirement village amid growing demand

But the Suburban Land Agency and developer Keyton, formerly Lendlease Retirement Living, said recent works were consistent with community and stakeholder consultation that informed the sale of the land in a nationally advertised tender in 2021.

The $80 million project will extend the Grove Retirement Village by 45 new two- and three-bedroom independent villas, and build a new three-storey aged care facility providing 124 beds.

“We understand that the recent works may provide the impression to the community that all associated dwellings on the site are being demolished. However, we would like to assure that this is not the case,” according to Keyton and the SLA.

They said the buildings on the homestead site were not heritage registered but were being retained to keep and rejuvenate the historically important characteristics of the site.

The original homestead, erected in the 1800s, had been retained and would be restored.

Keyton would keep the original elements and incorporate these into the new building but the existing roof would have to be replaced during restoration works.

Bulldozer moves in on the Homestead

The old kitchen’s walls will be retained.

The trusses and wall frames on the smaller building – the old kitchen – would be removed but these would stay in place temporarily to help support the walls, which will be retained.

The old slab hut was not habitable or safe for continued use so the timber had been removed and just the brickwork and chimney retained. But the timbers would be reused when the slab hut was reconstructed.

Later additions and unsafe and uninhabitable structures had gone, including modern-day brickwork, tiling, roofing and windows.

Keyton said the Gold Creek Homestead buildings and gardens would be sensitively restored, refurbished or reconstructed and activated.

The original homestead, kitchen wing, and slab hut would be restored or reconstructed into safe, accessible spaces surrounded by rejuvenated gardens.

Homestead remains

The chimney and brickwork is all that is left of the slab hut but the timber has been kept for a full restoration.

All the vandalism inside the building would be rectified to ensure the property was brought back to its former condition.

The homestead stone cottage would be redesigned to reflect community preferences, serving as a versatile meeting and exhibition space.

The homestead grounds would offer seating, open spaces for health and wellbeing activities, a bush tucker garden honouring First Nations tradition, and a yarning circle.

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The project has been delayed after construction crews struck a large amount of rock which took some time to remove with the use of heavy, and noisy, machinery.

“The good news is that we have completed the bulk rock extraction and there has not been any hammering on site in recent days,” a Keyton spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, in recent days we have discovered more rock in digging out service trenches, which will also require excavation.”

But this work should not take as long as the previous, more extensive extraction and removal, the spokesperson said.

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