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SSC Newspaper : JUNE 2012
www.ourstrathfield.com.au Strathfield Scene 21 life "The development will stick out like a sore thumb, and will also ruin Strathfield's skyline." – Environmental lawyer Jack Singh The Homebush Theatre is one of Strathfield’s most iconic buildings. Built all the way back in 1924, what was once a bustling cinema has sadly become run-down. Designed by architect Charles Bohringer – who also designed a number of other cinemas such as the Old State Theatre on Flinders Street in Melbourne – the cinema quickly became the social and cultural centre for the local community. During the 1920s, Parramatta Road in Homebush was a popular residential location. And with the Arnott’s factory right around the corner, there was a large working population. “The Homebush Theatre was the place to go to on a Friday and Saturday night,” says resident Marlene Doran. “It was the place to catch up with people in the community – it was the liveliest place in Strathfield. Filled with shops and restaurants, it was the place to be seen.” The theatre changed hands several times before closing in December 1959. The building was then converted into the Homebush Ice Rink before being converted into the Niterider Theatre Restaurant and then renamed the Midnight Star Reception. In 1996, the site closed. "Despite this, the corridor has all the attributes to support urban renewal, given it is well-serviced by public transport services and with Homebush train station and the Bakehouse precinct just metres away.” And the developments have to start somewhere. Stephen White, another town planner involved in the project, says the development will be a beacon for more high- rise apartments to be built along Parramatta Road. “The Strathfield Local Government area is one of the fastest-growing suburbs in NSW,” he says. “By utilising the site, it will not only revitalise Parramatta Road but it will be able to provide housing for more people. “The provision of housing along the Parramatta Road corridor is critical to Strathfield Council meeting its housing targets and more, importantly, it will relieve pressure for the change in the suburban areas. “ We believe that greater heights can be allowed in this part of the council area as there will be limited over- shadowing impact on the existing residential areas.” But like any large- scale development, many residents are concerned that the development will destroy Strathfield’s residential character – leafy tree-lined streets with large houses and even bigger blocks of land. Or that it might create two entirely different Strathfields – one a towering city in the sky, the other in substantial homes worth the medium house price of $1.7 million. A concerned Strathfield businessman, who asked not to be named, says he’s surprised that a building of this size could be allowed to be built in Strathfield. “I have counted the height of many of the apartment blocks that surround the different stations in Strathfield and none seem to exceed more than 10 to 15 floors,” he says. “There is no building of this size in our area. Strathfield is not a central business History of tHe HomebusH tHeatre It was the place to catch up with people in the community – it was the liveliest place in Strathfield. wHat are your tHougHts about tHis proposed development? Head to ourstrathfield.com.au and leave your comments. district and a building of this size doesn’t belong in our area. A development this size should be built in places such as Zetland or Alexandria, which would become a natural progression from Sydney ’s CBD.” According to building information research firm Emporis, some of Sydney ’s residential buildings are at heights of around 150 metres. The tallest tower at the Homebush development will be just over 100 metres. Strathfield resident Jack Singh, environmental lawyer and author of Sustainable Development and Environmental Issues, said he was unaware of the proposed development before the Scene spoke to him, and is outraged about the proposed height of the site. Singh says apartments should not exceed the current height of Strathfield's local environment plan. “Apartments shouldn’t be more than eight storeys high, so as to compliment other existing buildings,” he explains. “The blocks around the station are about eight storeys high and they work well. “The development would stick out like a sore thumb, and it would also ruin Strathfield’s skyline. In addition, to this Parramatta Road is already incredibly congested and the development will affect thousands of residents.” Huxley says the town planners and architects are working with Strathfield Council to review the local environment plan to allow for the development. “ We are working with the council and the local community to reassess the current planning controls for the precinct as part of the council-led review of the Strathfield local environment plan,” he says. “ While the new plan is still under consideration, we believe that there is a scope for much greater density and height along Parramatta Road.”