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.


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  1. Dorothy Warwick says :

    Just proves, once again, that our heritage items are perceived to be just ‘things’ that get in the way of development. Just because the main part of Woodstock is being retained, doesn’t mean that the other wing is of any lesser importance to its history. They just don’t ‘get it’ do they?

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