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Jon Stanhope’s Phony Support for Heritage

By Rob1936 - 31 October 2010 19

We live in one of Ainslie’s heritage precincts and were recently told that the ACT government planned to put a recycled 1970s-style concrete-and-plastic bus shelter in front of a local, lovingly-preserved 1936 house.

We thought there must be some mistake and that Jon Stanhope – the Minister for Heritage as well as Chief Minster – and his Heritage Council hadn’t been consulted.  After all, Stanhope often enthuses about his passionate commitment to heritage issues.

But a letter to Stanhope produced a startling response from ACT Heritage Council Secretary Gerhard Zatschler.  He said his view was that the proposal was consistent with the precinct’s heritage values and indeed was preferable to the alternative design, one of the minimalist and unobtrusive glass-and-steel shelters, which have been appearing around Canberra since 2007 – and which are pretty much the design favoured in Australia’s other cities and in Europe.

The reason, he said, was that the proposed shelter was consistent with the design of other such shelters in the precinct.

A few of these monsters appeared locally in the 1970s and 1980s with of course no thought of how their brutalist design might fit in with the 1930s/40s architecture and streetscapes.

In the 1990s, the ACT’s Heritage Precincts appeared and since then you’ve been barely able to lift a paint-brush without the Council’s agonised and often bossy guidance.  This drives some mad but most residents of the heritage precincts like the local vintage charm – rare for Canberra – and are happy to accept the price.

Stanhope and Zatschler would be hard-pressed to find a single local resident who would agree with their daft view of this issue.

And their attitude suggests the ACT government doesn’t really care about our heritage precincts.  It’s inconceivable that the local authorities in for example Glebe or Middle Park would accept such horrible structures being plonked in front of their heritage buildings.

The ACT government has ignored local appeals to reconsider and works began last Wednesday – and only thanks to the efforts of a quick-witted local was the government deterred from also chopping down a magnificent 70-year old plane to construct the monster.

Over to you Greens and Opposition.

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
Jon Stanhope’s Phony Support for Heritage
colourful sydney rac 11:44 am 01 Nov 10

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

There’s an obvious solution.

Bulldoze the house.

+1

Rob1936 11:40 am 01 Nov 10

Riotact contributors: thanks for your comments.
Boo Boo and thumper: Nice in theory, but I don’t see why the heritage precincts should cost the taxpayer (Adshel, the bus shelter contractor, is prepared to supply either the inoffensive steel and glass versions or the concrete monsters for free).
I-filed: interesting intelligence
Deref: spot on
Housebound: The site for the shelter – corner of Cowper Street/Wakefield Ave is listed – any developments must be ‘sympathetic to the streescape’ – but the government via the Heritage Council has ignored this requirement.
Miz: people around our area would prefer a steel and glass shelter with adds to one of the concrete monsters
See Suttorbar’s separate new article with interesting pictures on this subject ‘If Stanhope and his Heritage Guru Zatschler Ruled the World’ http://the-riotact.com/?p=30557

Woody Mann-Caruso 9:15 am 01 Nov 10

There’s an obvious solution.

Bulldoze the house.

Thumper 8:03 am 01 Nov 10

Ugh mock tudor, is there anything more insipid?

Rendered concrete blocks 🙂

caf 12:11 am 01 Nov 10

Ugh mock tudor, is there anything more insipid?

Thumper 9:15 pm 31 Oct 10

Why not build sympathitic bus stops, ie, something that looks like it was built in the 30s?

I despair about this place, no forsight or courage in architecture, just ugly, boring square blocks and schools that look like 70s prison compounds.

Why can’t we have mock tudor, or even georgian or edwardian architecture? In years to come people will walk past it and think, yep, at least they took a punt and made the place look interesting.

I-filed 9:01 pm 31 Oct 10

Miz I agree with you. And I think the newer glass shelters are naff and quite boring, and anything but reflecting a pre-war aesthetic. The orange retro ones are an example the sort of excellent design that one would hope a creative city would have more of. Another anecdote: The first handful of the concrete shelters were accidentally placed with the opening straight onto the road, rather than pointed toward the oncoming bus – so commuters had to step outside the shelter in the rain to be seen … I’m not sure whether some of them are still placed wrong …

screaming banshee 2:25 pm 31 Oct 10

Reads as though you are more concerned about the location of the bus stop than the construction, yes?

miz 2:20 pm 31 Oct 10

Glad you saved the tree though!

miz 2:19 pm 31 Oct 10

Sorry, but I fail to see why Ainslie is so special that it can dictate public infrastructure style.

The bus stop will be on the nature strip, not your property.

I suggest that you may actually prefer the 70s retro one, to glass ones with large ads on it, (which is what you would get with a glass one – the rollout of the glass ones is contingent on advertising sales). Think of it as an homage to ‘eclectic’ if this helps your artistic sensibilities.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/bus-stops-lacking-shelters-go-begging/1617294.aspx

And please bear in mind that some areas of Canberra are still waiting for bus shelters (not to mention other infrastructure) – the roll out doesn’t seem to have reached my part of Tuggers yet, as for some reason all rollouts in this town seem to start in the Inner North. . . . the words ‘pipe’ and ‘smoke it’ come to mind.

housebound 1:33 pm 31 Oct 10

Stanhope and Zatschler would be hard-pressed to find a single local resident who would agree with their daft view of this issue.

Like that’s ever stopped them before. Watch as they protest too much. In my opinion, the ACT government places more value on new buildings and street art with plaques and the sponsoring politician’s name on them than on heritage.

More practically, if the precinct has been listed, look up the conditions on the listing itself (on the ACT heritage Register). If the listing extends to the streetscape, then you might find they have’t a leg to stand on (and like that always makes a difference, but it’s worth a try). In that case, the fact that something bad has been done somewhere else might be no excuse at all.

Deref 12:21 pm 31 Oct 10

Not surprising considering the abominations that have been foisted on Canberra in the name of planning. Those concrete pillboxes are more suited to Gunghalin – nothing could make it look worse – than one of the last remaining precincts reminding us that Canberra used to have planners who knew what a beautiful city was.

Pandy 10:32 am 31 Oct 10

What crap is this city coming too?

You need to get the residents association, WIN and the Canberra times onto this.

Then you need to point out to them that such shelters were built as a train stop in Bredbo:

http://www.nswrail.net/locations/photos/bredbo03.jpg

Stanhope will be larfed at.

Oh and a Google Street View link would be ever so handy of where this tree is situated.

I-filed 10:01 am 31 Oct 10

Gerhard Zatschler ran for the Marijuana Party in the 1977 federal election … so I guess he shouldn’t rely on himself for an account of anything that was happening in the 1970s! : )

On the issue – his advisors are right actually, there are several of those modern bus shelters around Ainslie, and it’s part of the “layering” of the suburb. A time warp isn’t a good idea. The shelters incorporated an interesting design illusion to save the material: they look thick because of the front opening sides, but the concrete is actually only two inches thick at the back.

boo boo 9:53 am 31 Oct 10

It would have made more sense in a heritage precinct to construct “old style” bus shelters such as the ones on Melbourne Avenue and Empire Circuit in Forest. Something sympathetic.

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