Archive | May 2013


There is a renowned heritage street in Bexley that holds many a fine residence… Victorian, Federation, Bungalow, Art Deco… a walk down Dunmore Street North is like stepping back in time. Bookended by classic main street shopfronts and churches up on Forest Road, down to the state heritage listed Seaforth Park at the lower end, the street and suburb it occupies are home to many splendid gardens as well, some immaculately pruned and tended, and some, let’s just say, a little rougher around the edges.

Look carefully at the jungle growing on a block at 26 Dunmore Street North. Between the trees and shadows you will find a hidden Federation masterpiece, waiting to be uncovered and have new life breathed back into it, like a dusty Rembrandt sitting unknown at the back of a museum storeroom. This house is ripe for renovation, and in the afternoon light stunning period features still shine and give away a hint of the extravagance waiting to be uncovered and brought back to their timeless beauty by someone with a keen eye for what constitutes smart ‘forward thinking’ real estate value and a worthy investment. Bullseye leadlight windows, turquoise Art Nouveau tiling, patterned brick archways, delicate balcony timber fretwork, this house has all the wonderful features of the period.

Federation homes were exceptional in their level of embellishment, quality of workmanship and attention to detail, as well as giving us our own national style of architecture; those on corner blocks were even more impressive as they were always built to suit the site, facing two directions to greet the outside world and often taking advantage of winter sun flooding through bay windows, while maintaining an air of coolness in summer with deep and richly decorated porches.

That’s the end of my real estate agent spiel; it may not be along the lines the agents are pushing this time, considering the land size of 1,176sqm lends itself to perhaps something of a different scale. As quoted from the Domain website by agents Raine and Horne:

“Property Features:

*Original 4 bedroom federation full brick home in need of TLC

*Potential for Developement (STCA)

*Situated on a corner position

*2 Driveways

*Level clear block of land

*Approx 23.4 metre frontage X Approx 50.2 length

*Family orientated area, with excellent schools, transportation, and ease of access to Bexley shopping village.

Will be sold at Auction!!”

A few years ago a corner parcel came up for sale with a similar unloved Federation home at the bottom of the street. What happened next was a little strange. Residents at the time were concerned for the streetscape and lobbied for the new owners to retain the house. It didn’t stand for long, and was levelled and replaced by a large gaudy modern home ‘in the Federation style’, complete with sandstone foundations and stained glass. Why anyone would demolish a Federation house to build a Faux-Federation I don’t know but the trend has spread next door to where an almost identical building has sprung up.

Don’t let the developers get this one. The street is too picturesque and historically revealing to be ruined by duplexes. Any astute heritage buyers, this is the one for you. For sale by auction, Saturday 1st June. Be quick…

Click on images below to enlarge gallery…


The suburb of Hurstville in southern Sydney has long been a place of change. From transport hub to shopping megalopolis to high rise residential, the city hasn’t been spared the throng of development engulfing many centres around metropolitan Sydney. But Forest Road, the busy main thoroughfare lined with Asian eateries and grocery markets, still retains glimpses of architectural charm.

I enjoy a stroll along the bustling strip, now clearly influenced by a generation of Chinese migrants. Here you will stumble across butchers selling budget chops, rock star Vietnamese bakeries peddling pork rolls to the masses, Bok choy and Choy sum falling out of little boxes outside grocery stores, golden roast duck hanging gloriously from shopfront windows, noodle and dumpling bars exuding sweet aromas. And as its backdrop, a charming mixmatch of Victorian and Federation style shopfronts and art deco facades, even an early underground shopping arcade linking Forest Road to nearby Westfields, rumoured to be the first outside the Sydney CBD.

The place is a hive of activity, a successful working class migrant story, and it oozes an air of Oriental resourcefulness and prosperity. It’s good to see the Chinese community interact on Forest Road, the way they meet, the way they banter and communicate with one another. Elders are respected and their company is relished. You see it anywhere people of Asian backgrounds congregate. I believe westerners can learn from this sense of social connectivity on show.

But drastic change is once again in the air. A backflipping council, who previously claimed they would keep the CBD residential-free, now has big publicized development plans on the agenda. This is already taking shape along the northern stretch of Forest Road, just along from that massive former Amcor factory development, at 127-141 Forest Road, where a gaping hole has recently appeared and swallowed up a row of little shops and restaurants.

One of these shops was the Chinese grocer occupying Advance House, formerly known as Swans Hardware, a distinctive Art Deco warehouse that has been on the redevelopment radar for some time. There was a legal stoush between architect-developer Nick Katris (who also happens to be a Kogarah councillor) and Hurstville Council, which ended up in the Land and Environment Court. Katris and Associates lodged the original DA with no intention of keeping Advance House in any shape or form, but met an obstacle when Hurstville council’s heritage advisor, Graham Brooks, nominated retention of the Art Deco facade, being a listed item under Hurstville’s LEP. According to the court judgment, ‘Mr Brooks considered that there was an inherent conflict between the heritage listing in LEP 1994 and the site specific controls in the DCP, which permit large scale redevelopment that may overwhelm the retained element.’

At least they have left the façade for posterity, although far from acceptable, it’s better than nothing. It is only a wall after all, is that any substitute for a true heritage building?

The facade the was Advance House

The facade the was Advance House



Article from the Leader, 2010

Article from the Leader, 2010

Katris and Associates approved development

Katris and Associates approved development. The heritage facade is a little overwhelmed to say the least.

Further along, opposite the railway entrance sits the Stokland (former Fosseys) building, a landmark example of an early department store, and quite an elegant example of its type. This council-owned building is now for sale, under a profit taking scheme to bulldoze and replace it with a small park standing over several new levels of underground shopping (that must be a first for modern-day planners; you can have a park, but it needs to make money, there needs to be a shopping centre beneath it!). The existing historic arcade is also at risk.

Stockland, former Woolworths, Fosseys art deco store, 1951. To be demolished by council 2013

Stockland, former Woolworths, Fosseys art deco store, 1951. To be sold and demolished by council 2013.

Hurstville Council, under pressure from the NSW planning department, now appears intent on bulldozing much more of Hurstville’s historic main street. Now it’s been revealed that village centres Riverwood, Peakhurst, and Penshurst won’t be spared either under new zonings set by Minister Hazzard, despite Hurstville Council trying to ‘funnel’ high rise into the CBD. How much will survive now that high rise development will be allowed to encroach into Forest Road and other centres. Many of these buildings are over 100 years old, in essence, an ‘old town’ streetscape that should be retained and protected rather than turned into glass and concrete high-rise.

There is nothing more soulless than new glass shopfronts supporting multi-storey units. Many of us prefer the rambling, human scaled, colourful, sometimes crumbling shopfronts of a Hong Kong style market, where street life abounds and takes on a meaning of its own. This won’t be the case with new mega-development from architect firms such as Katris and Associates, swallowing up any heritage, any vibrant colour that now exists on the Forest Road strip; heritage that has evolved over time to take on new generations, and suit their needs, and provide all that is required for a healthy shopping precinct to exist into the future.


It has been brought to our attention that a service wing of the Victorian mansion Woodstock, owned by Burwood council, is being demolished to make way for a new hall complex.

The service wing, dating from 1894, and adjoining toilet block, from 1981, are to make way for the 1.6 million dollar project commencing immediately, due for completion in late 2013, to be built by Rapid Developments. Woodstock itself is listed as a state-significant heritage asset, and known as the pride of Burwood, which makes it quite surprising that the attached period services wing can be bulldozed with little or no public consultation, and what seems total disregard for the completeness of architecture… The loss of this wing is subtractive to the overall Victorian era build of Woodstock, and diminishes the heritage feel of the structure as a whole. Washrooms and laundries were almost always placed in separate wings and although it was added slightly after the main 1873 building it does match in style and can be seen as integral to the structure.

The new hall has its own architectural style and I will let you be the judge of whether it befits a house of this historical stature or not. Certainly it will add to the amenity of the building which accommodates over 40 community groups including arts and fitness users and radio station 2RDJ-FM. However what is concerning here is the partial demolition of an important heritage building, and the way an ultra-modern hall can be lumped on to a Victorian mansion with what seems to be “heritage gay abandon”, completely convening the rules for state-significant listed properties. The new hall will crowd Woodstock and block one whole side from view.

The new hall, an artist's impression

The new hall, an artist’s impression. More pretty plastic people.

We asked for an Interim heritage Order to be placed on the demolition, but were denied by the NSW Heritage Branch due to the following (hardly satisfying) reasons:

“It is considered that an IHO for the site is not warranted; the reasons for this decision are outlined below:
· This matter has previously been assessed by the Heritage Branch and there has been no change in the circumstances of the approval or heritage assessment of the property;
· The heritage impacts of the proposal were considered in the DA process; and
· The main part of Woodstock is to be retained.”

A Brief History of “Woodstock” – 22 Church Street, Burwood NSW 2134

Mr. Edwin Penfold, one of Australia’s largest tobacco manufacturers, built Woodstock in 1873.

In 1914, Woodstock was sold to Mr. Keep, who renamed the mansion “Broughton”. The Keep family resided there until 1941.

The property was then transferred to Burwood Council for a short time until the Commonwealth Government acquired it in 1942 for use as Army divisional headquarters. After the war, the property remained vacant until 1949 when it was used as a migrant hostel until 1974.

In 1976, Sir William McMahon arranged a long lease for Burwood Council on the property and the council restored, renovated and converted it to the community centre it is today. It was officially opened by the Governor General, Sir Zelman Cowan on November 11, 1979.

Before his retirement from politics, McMahon the former Prime Minister and then Federal Member for Lowe, negotiated a sale, whereby the Council bought the property from the Commonwealth Government in April 1982 for $40,000.

The 100 square building set in several acres of land is home to at least 40 organisations and community groups. In a year, more than 80,000 people use its multitude of facilities. The building also houses the studios and offices of radio station 2RDJ-FM.

The name “Woodstock” was derived from Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England.