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Australia Residents lose Powerhouse Museum case

04:56  16 june  2021
04:56  16 june  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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Community campaigners in Sydney's west have lost a legal fight to protect a heritage-listed villa from being demolished as part of the NSW government's 0 million construction of a new Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta. The Land and Environment Court ruled against the North Parramatta Residents Action Group which had been fighting to protect Willow Grove, an Italianate villa built in the 1870s.

The Powerhouse Museum 's transport hall was scheduled to close for good on 30 June, four days before the NSW government called off relocation plans Katherine Lu. A surprise decision by the New South Wales government to cancel a fiercely controversial relocation of Sydney’s 140-year-old Powerhouse Museum has been hailed as a victory for community campaigners. But arts figures and local residents who contested the A.1bn (0m) plan to demolish the museum ’s current 1988 building in the city centre and create a new venue in a western suburb say the battle is not over yet.

Community campaigners in Sydney's west have lost a legal fight to protect a heritage-listed villa from being demolished as part of the NSW government's $500 million construction of a new Powerhouse Museum at Parramatta.

a man wearing glasses: NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin says the community overwhelmingly supports the Parramatta museum. © Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin says the community overwhelmingly supports the Parramatta museum.

The Land and Environment Court ruled against the North Parramatta Residents Action Group which had been fighting to protect Willow Grove, an Italianate villa built in the 1870s.

The government plans to dismantle and rebuild Willow Grove in another part of Parramatta to pave the way for the biggest museum in NSW on the banks of the Parramatta River - in addition to the existing museum at Ultimo which will be expanded and refurbished.

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The Powerhouse Museum is the major branch of the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (MAAS) in Sydney, the others being the historic Sydney Observatory at Observatory Hill

The construction union is standing behind furious Parramatta residents who have vowed to protect two Victorian period buildings from being flattened to make way for the new Powerhouse Museum . "We hope the Government listens to the people of this community, which are many, that are against the destruction of these buildings. "We will be here standing in defence of these buildings for whatever it takes into the future." Suzette Meade from the North Parramatta Resident 's Action Group said people would stand firm with the union.

The residents had challenged the planning approval on the basis that the environmental assessment failed to meet essential requirements designed to protect Parramatta's heritage.

In his judgment Justice Tim Moore noticed that there was no obligation for the government to investigate alternative sites for the Powerhouse Parramatta and that the proposed extension of the "Civic Link", a green pedestrianised public space, through the site made removal of Willow Grove necessary.

Justice Moore concluded that the government's environmental impact statement complied with relevant requirements and so the residents' legal challenge to it "must fail".


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The Powerhouse Museum was opened in March 1988, but the core collection belongs to the old Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum founded in 1879. Unlike the Parramatta development the building in Ultimo, constructed on the site of a tram power station, was intended to provide adequate It is, in brief, an appalling act of vandalism against our cultural heritage, being enacted at the whim of a small lobby group. The project will leave Parramatta residents with a gigantic white elephant and still lacking a credible museum . The attendances of the Powerhouse , which allegedly

THE POWERHOUSE MUSEUM ’S UNIQUE VALUES FOR NSW Many have commented on this Government’s seeming baffling ignorance of the importance of museums in general, and in particular, of what the Powerhouse Museum means to the NSW community and beyond. Upper house Labor leader Adam Searle told the house that the government's failure to produce signed approvals could amount to "maladministration, corruption or illegality" while Greens MP David Shoebridge said the NSW government used "public money to bankroll their election campaign.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union has imposed a green ban on demolition regardless of the court decision.

Suzette Meade, a local leading the fight to protect the site, said the legal proceedings were always the resident action group's "Plan B".

"Plan A has always been the passion and the power of the community and unions working together," Ms Meade said after the decision.

"The people of Parramatta shouldn't have to choose our heritage or cultural funding. We deserve to have both, and the community will continue to fight for this."

Greens MP David Shoebridge said he would be reading through the 130-page judgment to see if there were any grounds for appeal.

NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin said the government was "absolutely determined" Parramatta should have a world class museum.

"The community is overwhelmingly with us," Mr Harwin told 2GB on Wednesday.

"When council sold us that site it was derelict."

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