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SSC Newspaper : September 2010
By Bernadette Chua On one of the we est and windiest days this year, a group of angry Strath eld residents braved the cold outside heritage-listed Camden Lodge to protest against its proposed demolition. e protestors, who were joined by Strath eld MP Virginia Judge, had already collected 306 signatures on a petition opposing the demolition -- and underlining the community's deep concern about the loss of the grand home on Burlington Road, Homebush. Protestors say that a growing population in the inner-west and the need for be er infrastructure o en collides with the community's desire to preserve its architectural heritage. Marlene Doran, who presented the petition to Strath eld Council and has been leading the conservation campaign, says the council will lose credibility if it allows the demolition to proceed. "If council approves this development, they will be the laughing stock of the area," she says. Doran was referring to the fact that Camden Lodge is actually on the council's heritage list and, presumably, worthy of preser vation. While most people assume that heritage- listing a ords a certain level of protection, it does not. In Hurstville, for instance, the Mortdale Masonic Hall is facing demolition. It, too, is on the Hurstville Council's heritage list. e owners and demolishers are ... Hurstville Council. "Heritage is an important part of Strath eld," said Virginia Judge, the Minister for Fair Trading and the Arts. "And it's great to see the community coming together to back this cause." It is, perhaps, one of the most important questions facing the municipality: can heritage co-exist with the demands of a thriving 21st century growth area of Sydney? e question has been running hot since the Scene's last issue, when the paper rst reported the plight of Camden Lodge. On the other hand, it is vital that modern day Strath eld a racts investors, businesses and jobs in order to ensure its growing population can enjoy all the facilities at a vibrant modern municipality. The overall winner in the 2010 Strath eld Building Design Awards is architect Leonard Martin for his tasteful renovation of a house in Simone Crescent, Strath eld. e awards recognise the best residential and commercial building developments within the municipality and reward designs that are sustainable, well-executed and honour the building's integrity. Judges say the Simone Crescent house exempli es clean, modern design while preser ving the building's architectural structure. e architect says that his new design for the Simone Crescent house a empts to retain as much of the original structure as possible. "I worked closely with the builders, who were excellent," he said. Other award winners were Jay Lin, who received a Commendation Award for his home on Karuah Street, Paul Krivoshev who won the Residential Dwelling Category for his home on Nichols Parade and Walter Power who won the Industrial Category for his business on Cosgrove Road in Bel eld. Who will preserve our heritage? Renovation with taste Strathfield Scene 13 "Strathfield would have to be my favourite suburb in Sydney and I have a love affair with the area.” – architect Leonard Martin. THE BIG ISSUE www.ourstrathfield.com "I love heritage, that's why I bought this house." -- Ronney Oueik (pictured above), talking of Camden Lodge seen below before his purchase. Mr Oueik has since asked that the house now be demolished because it is dangerous. Others argue that striking the right balance between development and the preservation of historic architecture is what gives the municipality its sense of place. Patrick Wong, directore of technical ser vices, says the purpose of heritage listing is to preserve the heritage signi cance of buildings and to ensure any structural changes are sympathetic. "People need to live a modern lifestyle and have the ability to make sympathetic modi cation rather than live in a museum," he says. "We have a heritage advisor who can advise on how to come up with something realistic and achievable." Camden Lodge has become a test case in this wider debate. Although the house is on the council's heritage list, its new owner has asked for permission to bulldoze the house in order to build a new one. Ronney Oueik claims two stained glass windows were stolen from the property. He maintains that a structural engineering report says the house is structurally unsound and has to come down. " We've been waiting for council approval for the house," he says. "I got the best heritage architect (Robert Staas) to inspect the property and he said the building is unlivable and can't be xed." Ouiek plans to demolish the house and build a new home which is sympathetic to the heritage style of the 20th Century property. "I love heritage, that's why I bought this house but it is not safe to live in," he says. "I want to just remove the house and replace it." Residents are skeptical. e possible demolition of Camden Lodge has raised concerns about whether council has enough power to safeguard the municipality's signi cant buildings, and if not, what should be done. Real estate agent Steve Devine, of Devine Real Estate in Strath eld, says that although homes can be recreated in a sympathetic manner to the streetscape, heritage homes must be saved wherever possible. "Houses can be built or renovated to replicate heritage styles, but I would hate to see a heritage listed home bulldozed," he says. e future of Camden Lodge will be decided at the next council planning commi ee meeting on September 14.