You are here: Home / Media / Revamp for Redfern ignores railway heritage - 13 February 2006

Revamp for Redfern ignores railway heritage - 13 February 2006

Bonnie Malkin SMH Urban Affairs Reporter reports SYDNEY may lose a large part of its railway heritage under plans to revamp Redfern and Waterloo, the National Trust has warned.

The conservation manager of National Trust NSW, Jackie Goddard, said the State Government's redevelopment plan, which it released on Thursday, threatened to destroy historic parts of Redfern and damage the suburb's unique character.

The plan earmarks disused railway land for residential, cultural and commercial development and includes the complete transformation of Redfern Station.

The Redfern Waterloo Authority, the body in charge of the project, is not obliged to adhere to heritage orders because it has powers to override the Heritage Act.

Ms Goddard said the trust was particularly concerned about the fate of the railway yards, tracks and warehouses in North Eveleigh, most of which date from 1887.

"We have been lobbying for a long time to retain the Railway Heritage Group's storage and workshop facilities and this wipes them out completely," Ms Goddard said.

"It also wipes out the fan of tracks that comes into the workshops area."

Ms Goddard said the plan, which aims to revitalise the area by bringing in 18,000 jobs and 4000 new residents in the next 10 years, failed to take into account Redfern's strong history of railway activity.

Any development should contain reminders of the site's past, she said.

"The whole area was built to house workers at Eveleigh, so if you don't have Eveleigh what have you got?"

Ms Goddard said the Government's plans for Redfern Station put the suburb's unique character under threat.

The station dates from the 1870s and was the site of the first double-decker tram trip in 1879. "When you look at the drawings for the railway station there's no sign of the history or place at all," she said.

"The concept drawings have missed that basic sense of place which is so important for everybody, particularly the Aboriginal community who have a very strong sense of attachment to place."

The trust would seek to meet the authority to discuss their concerns, she said.

The deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, Labor's Verity Firth, also spoke out against the plan.

Cr Firth said the decision by the Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, to rezone the Block for commercial use was "regrettable" and should be reversed.

The rezoning kills off the Aboriginal Housing Company's proposal to build 62 houses on the Block.

"With one stroke of the pen this innovative development has seemingly been abandoned," she said.

The release of the plan comes one week after City of Sydney council lodged a development application for the demolition of the Redfern Oval grandstand.

The move follows a controversial decision in November to turn the site into a public sportsground.

The resolution angered fans of South Sydney football club and the local Police and Community Youth Club, who wanted to replace the grandstand with a larger stadium and a commercial development.