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Yesterday the Development Application to demolish the Sydenham Station Master’s cottage went before the Joint Regional Planning Panel. Four residents & a representative from Marrickville Heritage Society spoke to the panel against Railcorp’s application arguing that the cottage was a significant part of Sydenham’s history & was no different in architectural design to a number of heritage-listed Station Master’s cottages around NSW that have been renovated & retained. They also fought to save the 21 mature trees on the site.
The JRPP gave Railcorp one month to deliver a heritage (as opposed to structural) report.
A community member who attended the meeting said that the Solicitors for Railcorp argued that the DA was inappropriate for the JRPP & should have been decided by Marrickville Council. Perhaps they are unaware that all Marrickville Councillors voted against demolishing the cottage saying, “the preservation of this building is fundamental.”
Sydenham lost many of its buildings for the Third Runway. To lose yet another public asset & 21 mature trees is something that the community strongly opposes.
I wrote about this previously – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/report-from-the-gallery-–-5th-april-2011-part-2/
This was the Development Assessment & Committee Meeting. The following is my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine. Part 1 can be read here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/report-from-the-gallery-–-5th-april-2011-part-1/
117 Railway Road Sydenham – Crown Development Application by Railcorp to demolish the former Station Master’s cottage, remove 21 trees & remediate the land.
1 man spoke in favour of the DA: My house was constructed 6 years ago. I have sympathy for Railcorp because of my problems. My house was built about 12 years later. It had white ants, damage problems, family had ill health because of rising damp. The house is pretty dilapidated. The crux of my concern is the ‘do nothing.’ What do you do if you do nothing? The house is virtually unusable. A layer of soil was brought in which is standard today. It’s seriously contaminated land & trees have grown into that fill. There is no win/win on this. You are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
2 local women spoke against approving the DA: There are loads of reasons why Sydenham residents oppose this DA. We are concerned with potential heritage considerations. Sydenham lost much of its heart & was literally gutted when the Third Runway was built, so we don’t have much heritage left. Railcorp could use the $450,000 to remove the asbestos & remediate the soil. We have cargo trains, planes, cars & now Marrickville Metro. We don’t need more parking congestion or noise pollution. We would like Railcorp to hear us loud & clear that they have let the cottage deteriorate.
There has been no actual physical consultation with the community by Railcorp, no offer to meet, no assurance of any compensation if any property damage occurs. We all have this soil problem. Just put a layer of topsoil on over the top. 15 species of native birds live in these trees. The large trees provide a sound buffer from 6 railway tracks. We want the trees & the historical nature of the property retained. I have lived here since 1998. My son always had to be careful of the Station Master (living in the cottage). This house was last occupied in 2005.
A 314-signature petition from the Sydenham community to save the Station Master’s cottage was submitted to Council.
All Councillors were very supportive of retaining the Station Master’s Cottage saying the preservation of this building is fundamental. The new Marrickville LEP changed the zoning so that units could be built on the land, however it was felt that this property was overlooked. The asbestos is not a problem because the sheeting is intact. Neither Railcorp nor Marrickville Council have done a heritage assessment on the property. Many of the Councillors expressed that the property should be available for a business to allow public use.
There were 5 amendments. The Gallery was unable to read the screen so I think the following is to happen. Representatives from Council & the community will try to meet with the Minister, Council will do a report on the heritage value of the property & Council will refer the DA to the JRPP recommending refusal. Council will write a report that supports retaining the cottage. Because it is a Crown Development Application Council is unsure whether the community will be able to put in submissions to the JRPP. The vote was unanimous.