Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Macaria threatened by demolition


37 John Street

Macaria was used by Camden Council as part of its office in 1980s (Camden Images)

In 1970 Macaria was threatened with demolition by Camden Council when it was considering the re-develop John Street. The council had purchased the Macaria site in 1965 and was considering the construction of a new council administration building.

One definition of heritage is what is valued by the community and can be handed down to the next generation. Heritage is a political concept that changes over time. What one generation considers important is not what the next generation wants to hand on to their children. Heritage is a very disposable concept. One decade something is considered important, the next it is considered worthless.

In 1970  Camden Council did not consider Macaria worthy of saving.

 Camden's historic buildings might be valued by most of the community now, but it was not always like that.

In 1970 the Camden Historical Society wrote to Camden Council to re-consider the demolition of Macaria. (Image below)

Letter from Camden Council to the Camden Historical Society dated 31 August 1970 about the possible demolition of Macaria

 The councils reply stated:

The Council of the Municipality of Camden
Box 10, PO,

August 31, 1970
Mrs N Blattman
Hon Secretary
Camden Historical Society
57 Menangle Road

I refer to your letter of August 17, 1970, concerning the Council's reported decision to demolish the above property in the near future, and wish to inform you that it was considered by Council at its meeting held on August 24, 1970.

Council acquired the property some 5 years ago for the purpose of providing a suitable site for a future civic administration building. The question was raised at that time as to whether the property had any architectural or historic value, which would warrant its retention. Council's Architects at the time, who were connected to the National Trust of Australia, reported to Council that 'Macaria' had no historic or particular architectural value and that its retention on these grounds could not be justified.

However, Council decided to inform the Society that it had in mind to recover and re-use bricks and sandstone from 'Macaria' as far as this is practical, with a view to preserving the present character of John Street. You might rest assured that the views of the Society and others regarding the preservation of the present character of John Street, will be fully considered by Council when the time comes for the re-development of the 'Macaria' site to take place.

Yours faithfully,
J Mack
Town Clerk

Note: The loss of Macaria was this close! John Wrigley

The National Trust of Australia (NSW) considered Macaria in the 1970s.
Macaria was considered an important historic property in the 1970s by the National Trust of Australia (NSW)

Macaria in 2016 after Camden Council moved to new office premises in Oran Park (I Willis)

Macaria's heritage importance today

Today Macaria's heritage importance is recognised as being nationally significant.

The New South Wales State Heritage Inventory states:
For a house of this scale, Macaria is among the best picturesque Gothic houses in Australia. This, when combined with its importance to Camden, makes it a building of great significance.  A fine early townhouse of distinctive and interesting architectural quality, associated with an important figure of the town's early years.
The Australian Heritage Place Inventory states:
Built 1842. For a house of this scale, Macaria is amongst the best picturesque Gothic houses in the Commonwealth of Australia. This, when combined with its importance to Camden, makes it a building of great significance.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Leppington progress and development


76 Rickard Road

Brochure for the sale of 76 Rickard Road, Leppington

There has been a development application lodged by NRI Byron Developments Pty Ltd in April 2016  with Camden Council for a project at 76 Rickard Road. The project is for the construction of 3 four storey residential flat buildings containing a total of 250 apartments (1, 2 and 3 bedroom units), basement car parking, road construction, subdivision to create 2 lots and associated site works.

The proposal is to have 26 one bedroom units, 207 two bedroom units and 17 three bedroom units.

The value of the project is $85 million dollars. Currently the project has been referred for environmental assessment.

The heritage assessment of the locality states:
The study area is located within the 3000 acres granted to Alexander Riley in 1816. The grant in part was a consolidation of earlier grants made in 1809 to David Bevan (700 acres in two grants), Samuel Foster (100 acres), and John Pye (200 acres)1 , and Riley's 500 acres. This extensive land holding was located at the junction of Cowpasture Road and Bringelly Road, both key routes to the southern and western fringes of the Cumberland Plain. 
British colonisation of the country south-west of Liverpool began in 1809, and continued in the 1810s under the administration of Governor Macquarie and his successors into the 1830s. This was undertaken by alienation of the land and imposition of the rule of law. In most instances, land grants were made to free settlers and former military men with the wherewithal to establish stock runs. The grants were therefore large in area and consequently the country was sparsely settled. The soils are generally poor, but the creek systems of South Creek and Cabramatta Creek sustained farming over generations. 
In 1821 700 acres were granted to William Cordeaux, a colonial Land Commissioner, on the Cumberland Plains near Denham Court (Roads and Maritime Services 2013:24). On this property Cordeaux built a hill-top mansion which he named ‘Leppington Park’ after a village near his birthplace. The locality soon adopted this name and became known as Leppington. From the original grants at Leppington smaller farm holdings were subdivided, and since then the area has primarily remained a community of small farms.  

The development documents state:
The site is located within the Leppington Precinct of the South-West Priority Growth Area (SWPGA). The SWPGA and the North-West Priority Growth Area are strategic locations identified for the provision of much of Sydney’s long term housing supply. The Leppington Precinct is projected to provide up to 7,190 dwellings to house up to 24,000 people at full capacity.
Leppington Precinct Plan
The Leppington Precinct forms part of the SWPGA and planning for Stage 1 of its development is now complete. Stage 1 of the Leppington Priority Precinct was rezoned in November 2015. The Precinct Plan developed by NSW Planning and Environment (NSW P&E) to guide its future development makes provision for:
  •  2,500 new homes; 
  • A new primary school and K-12 school; 
  •  A new community centre; 
  • Upgraded rail and road infrastructure; and 
  • New open space including playing fields and recreational lands. 
The Precinct benefits from proximity to Leppington Railway Station providing rail services along the South West Rail Link as well as a new ‘Major Centre’ within the Leppington North Precinct which provides opportunities for employment, shopping and entertainment.
Read more at Camden Council 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Heritage Protection at Camden Council

Macaria which was formerly the offices of Camden Council to 2016. The new council offices are at Oran Park.

Heritage Protection at Camden Council

At tonight's Camden Council meeting (25 October 2016) councillors unanimously agreed to ask council officers to prepare a report on the establishment of a heritage protection sub-committee. It was moved that any proposed  sub-committee might include councillor representativs, community representatives, independent heritage experts, and representatives of historical groups and other appropriate organisations.

This is the first time that Camden Council has considered forming a committee related solely to heritage protection that could include a range of representatives from council, the community and experts in the field.

The motion was moved by Councillor Cindy Cagney, who stated the she felt the committee should be about preservation and promotion of the local area. She talked about her experience on Campbelltown Council and how Campbelltown Council heritage committee helped community members and councillors around heritage matters.

Councillor Cagney mentioned similar sub-committees at Campbelltown, and other councils. She saw any sub-committee taking a broad role on heritage issues, from advising on a heritage palatte for buildings, to writing histories of important heritage items.

Argyle Street in Camden which was originally founded in 1840 as part of the Macarthur's Camden Park.  

Councillor Eva Campbell spoke in support and said that social heritage of the local area was also important and that it was often overlooked. She stated the heritage made up an important part of a community's sense of place.

In reply to an amended motion Councillor Cagney stated that heritage included natural heritage, cultural heritage as well as built heritage of the local area.

Dr Ian Willis gave a public address to the council early in the evening in support of the proposal. His address is as follows:

Camden Council Public Address
FROM: Cr Cagney
TRIM #: 16/300825

 I would like to thank the councillors for the opportunity to address the meeting this evening. I would like to speak in support of the motion put by Councillor Cagney.

 I think that a section 355 sub-committee on Heritage Protection is long over due in the Camden Local Government Area.

 A panel of councillors, experts and community members could give sound and constructive advice to Camden Council on local issues of substance related to local heritage.

 This could contribute to the Council’s knowledge of heritage matters within the community.

 The proposed Heritage Protection sub-committee could allow stakeholders a platform to voice their concerns around any proposed development that effected any issues concerning heritage in the Local Government Area.

 The proposed Heritage Protection sub-committee could seek the view of external experts on contentious heritage matters within the Local Government Area.
 The proposed sub-committee could provide considered advice to Council on matters of heritage concern to the community.

 Perhaps provide more light that heat on matters of community concern.  Such advice might lower the noise levels around proposed development around heritage issues that have arisen in recent months.

 In 2010 I wrote an article that appeared in Fairfax Media which I called ‘Heritage, adismal state of affairs’. It was in response to an article by journalist Jonathan Chancellor about the neglected state of Camden’s heritage lists.

 In the article I quoted Sylvia Hales view expressed in the National Trust Magazine that in New South Wales there had been ‘the systematic dismantling of heritage protection’ over the past five years.

 I also quoted the view of Macquarie University geographer Graeme Alpin who wrote in Australian Quarterly that ‘heritage listing at the local level does not provide much protection at all'’.

 I expressed the view at the time that there needed to be a ‘ thorough and considered assessment of historic houses’. And that  'the current political climate in New South Wales is not conducive to the protection of historic houses. Heritage is not a high priority'.

Six years later I have not changed my view.
 The proposed sub-committee could give greater prominence to the Camden Heritage Inventory, similar to Campbelltown Council and Wollondilly Council.

 In 2015 I wrote a post on my blog that I called ‘Camden Mysterious Heritage List’ in frustration after spending a great deal of time and effort trying to find the heritage inventory on the Council’s website. It is still difficult to find.

 In conclusion, the proposed Heritage Protection sub-committee would be a valuable source of advice for council and provide a platform for the community to express their view around heritage issues.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

More developments at the Camden Milk Depot

Camden Vale Milk Depot Saga

DA/2016/169 Camden Council

The District Reporter 24 June 2016 p3

There have been more developments in the saga of the Camden Vale Milk Depot story.

Sydney identities Mr Alan Jones and Mr Mark Latham have been drawn into the controversy. 

Listen to a conversation between Alan Jones and Mark Latham on Sydney Radio 2GB and read a letter to the editor of the Camden Narellan Advertiser by concerned resident Mr J Wrigley. 

Mr Jones has stated that he has received a stream of emails and phone calls on this matter and other issues related to the town centre development.

Mr Jones and Mr Latham paid a visit to Camden to inspect what the fuss is all about. Lee Abrahams from The District Reporter has published a story about their visit which has appeared in a recent issue of the newspaper. (24 June 2016)

It is advantageous that according to The District Reporter (11 May 2016) and reports in the Macarthur Chronicle (26 April 2016) the mayor's position on these issues seems to have shifted from her earlier statements about the development. 

Camden Vale Milk Depot (Camden Images)
The handling of this development application by Camden Council has been unfortunate. The notification for the original DA was not publicly advertised in the press and then there seemed to be considerable confusion around the publication exhibition period dates. 

The council's approach on this matter has done nothing to narrow the trust deficit that emerged in 2014 with the community consultation process for the town centre re-development.

The council's continued politicisation of these type of development matters is regrettable. The council needs to build confidence within the community.

Read more on the Camden Vale Milk Depot

Monday, 30 May 2016

Parramatta Heritage Under Threat

Member of the Parramatta Historical Society and National Trust Karen Brown says:
There are 1820s Francis Greenway Parramatta Female Factory buildings in the Cumberland Mental Hospital precinct in North Parramatta that are subject to Nsw Urban Growth rezoning and private sell off.

There is incredible colonial convict history contained within this 30 hectare site on the banks of the Parramatta River that many members of the public wouldn't even know exist seeing as NSW Health use the site as a mental hospital.

The local residents are trying to circulate interest in the sydney residents to attend a community rally to show solidarity and support to stop any new buildings being built and land sold to developers.

The government wants super lots sold to developers and built close to these old buildings. it's hard to show the Government that people care about its importance when many Sydneysiders don't even know these buildings are here to protect.

The North Parramatta Residents Action Group of only 100 or so people are trying to inform Sydneysiders of these plans and hope you will join us for a rally this Sunday 5th June, meeting at 11am at Parramatta Stadium carpark.

For more information about these issues go to

All images K Brown.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Development at Camden Milk Depot site

Development at the historic Camden Milk Depot site

DA/2016/169 Camden Council

The District Reporter 29 April 2016

A major development is planned for the historic Camden Vale Milk Depot site at 11 Argyle Street Camden at the entry to the historic town centre
The $8.8 million development was lodged in April 2016 by developer C Meitanis for five restaurants and a car park.

Camden mayor, Councillor Symkoviak has stated that it will transform the site into a restaurant precinct. (Macarthur Chronicle 26 April 2016, p13; Camden Narellan Advertiser, 11 May 2016, p7)

Not everyone agrees with the mayor.

A number of community groups including the Camden Residents Action Group, the Camden Community Alliance and the Camden Historical Society  have objected to the development. (Camden Narellan Advertiser, 11 May 2016, p7; Macarthur Chronicle, 26 April 2016, p.13; The District Reporter, 29 April 2016, p. 3)

Former Camden Council Mr K Hart stated in April that the development would completely change the entry to the town area. (The District Reporter, 29 April 2016, p.3)

Historian Dr I Willis maintains that the development does not conform to Burra Charter principles.
The Burra Charter states:
The Burra Charter provides guidance for the conservation and management of places of cultural
significance (cultural heritage places), and is based on the knowledge and experience of Australia
ICOMOS members. Conservation is an integral part of the management of places of cultural significance and is an ongoing responsibility.

Camden Community Alliance vice-president Ms L Idon stated that the development does fit with the historic centre of the town area. (Camden Narellan Advertiser, 11 May 2016, p.7)

The current industrial building on the site was opened in 1926 and was a milk depot of Camden Park's Camden Vale Milk Company. The plant was regarded at the time as one of the most modern for the scientific treatment of milk. The current building replaced a former timber construction that burnt down in 1926 that was originally built in the 1890s.

Read more 

Janice Johnson Back Then The District Reporter 1 April 2016, 8 April 2016,

Camden Vale Milk Depot, NSW State Heritage Inventory, Click here

The Burra Charter  Revised 2013 Click here  More information at the International Council of Monuments and Sites in Australia Click here

Proposed development for Camden Vale Milk Depot, DA/2016/169 Click here

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Elderslie Banksia Scrub - Critically Endangered

Elderslie Banksia Scrub (I Willis)

The Elderslie Banksia Scrub is listed as critically endangered under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

Elderslie Banksia Scrub (I Willis)

Common Species
Coastal banksia, Broad-leaf apple

Elderslie Banksia Scrub (I Willis)
It occurs on the alluvial sands in the Elderslie area and there is only around 13 hectares left of the scrub.

The biggest threat is from sandmining in the Elderslie area. The remaining remnants are vulnerable and threatened by invasive weeds.
Elderslie Banksia Scrub disturbed by local road (I Willis)
Recovery and Management
There has been efforts to re-vegetate the Elderslie Banksia Scrub at Spring Farm.

Rehabilitation of Elderslie Banksia Scrub (Microclimate)

Read more @

Office of Environment and Heritage Click here
The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act (NSW) Click here
Elderslie Banksia Scrub Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion - profile (OEH) Click here
Three ecological communities of the Sydney Basin Bioregion (Aust Govt, Dept of Environt) Click here
Spring Farm, (Dictionary of Sydney) Click here
Final determination as Critically Endangered Ecological Community under the Threatened Species Conservation Act (NSW)  Click here