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Trust worried Redfern Waterloo Authority Plan is on the wrong track

The following Media release was issued by the National Trust on 13 February concening the RWA Draft Built environment Plan.

“The National Trust has read the Redfern Waterloo Authority's recently released Draft Built Environment Plan. Although the Plan will need careful examination, we have a number of concerns about it,” said Trust Executive Director, Tina Jackson today.

The Plan indicates that a large part of Sydney's vital railway heritage may be lost, historic areas of Redfern may be destroyed and the suburb's unique character damaged.

Historic Redfern Station will be redeveloped to the point of being unrecognisable with residential, cultural and commercial development concentrated on these railway lands.

“The Redfern Waterloo Authority has powers to override the Heritage Act, something the Trust is very concerned about,” said Ms. Jackson.

“The Trust is particularly worried about the fate of the railway yards, tracks and warehouses in North Eveleigh most of which date from 1887. We have been lobbying for many years to retain the Railway Heritage Group's storage and workshop facilities. This Plan wipes them out completely, including the fan of tracks that comes into the workshops area without ever even mentioning them in the proposals.”

State Rail’s Annual Reports acknowledge: “State Rail is the owner of the largest collection of heritage assets of any government agency and is one of the leaders in heritage management.”

Although Eveleigh is a multi-listed heritage site, 12 specialist workshops have already gone. Only the large erecting shed (built in 1898) has remained in continual use for its original purpose for dismantling, repairing and reconstructing locomotives.

The famous historic, steam locomotives 3801 (‘the Hogwarts Express’) and 3830 are based in this building.

The Trust understands that in coming months there are plans to relocate both locomotives to a place where their use on the rail network will be limited.

The Built Environment Plan will see even this facility disappear when it could have been the site of the Eveleigh Railway Museum.

Queensland’s North Ipswich Railway Yards have been developed as a museum for Queensland’s heritage fleet of steam locomotives and railway rolling stock and Victoria is looking at a similar proposal at the historic Newport Workshops.

The Trust believes that any development should not only contain reminders of the site's past but also encompass elements of it in a meaningful way. Incorporating elements of railway use and heritage is a basic. The residential areas adjacent were built to house the workers at Eveleigh and the association between the housing and any development is critical.

“Redfern Station dates from the 1870s and was the site of the first double-decker tram trip in 1879. The plan's concept drawings have missed that sense of place which is so important for everybody, particularly the Aboriginal community who have a very strong sense of attachment to the place,” said Ms. Jackson.

In the Redfern-Waterloo area there are four National Trust conservation areas, 43 per cent of the total area is classified by the Trust and 205 buildings and parks are entered on the Trust’s Register.

These buildings and places tell the history of the people who lived and worked in the area and many of their descendants still live in Redfern-Waterloo. And of course Redfern is culturally vital for the aboriginal community and the many nationalities that live within it.

The revitalisation of older inner city suburbs such as The Rocks, Woolloomooloo, Paddington and Glebe was achieved through the hard work of active resident groups, the government and those bodies seeking to conserve our historic built heritage.

The Trust is hopeful that these earlier successful models could still be taken into account in formulating the Authority’s draft Built Environment Plan, and that respect for the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops, Redfern Station and National Estate Listed aboriginal housing area will guide the final development.

For more information: Kim Carter National Trust Media Relations (02) 9258 0131

Watson Road, Observatory Hill, Sydney NSW 2000
GPO Box 518, Sydney NSW 2001
Media enquiries: Kim Carter/9258 0131/0407 771 698
For Immediate Release: February 13, 2006