Architect revives appreciation of Goulburn's heritage | Editorial

When the Rural Bank opened in February, 1937, the Goulburn Evening Penny Post declared that it reflected the demand for banking services but also the district’s progress.

Today, as an architect proposes its conversion into a motel, we can just as easily say it manifests rising interest in the city’s heritage.

Crookwell architect Doug McIntyre applies fresh eyes to Goulburn’s historic stock. Quite simply, he loves it. Most of us do too but don’t always fully appreciate what is at our doorstep. Mr McIntyre is trying to change that by convincing owners that their buildings are an asset, not a fire hazard and accessibility nightmare, and that a little investment can go a long way.

His foray into shop-top housing is highly welcome. It’s returning vibrancy to the CBD and complementing the council’s beautification works and broader efforts to reinvigorate the city. We have new business coming to town, a flurry on infrastructure improvement and a growing cafe culture.

There’s no doubt Goulburn is growing but at the same time, it’s drawing people to the city centre. Several developers are realising this. Swish new apartments have been built near the Astor Hotel. Robert Rampton and his partners are constructing townhouses and a new motel on the old St Pat’s Primary School site. Over the road, developer Nicholas Daoud will soon start building apartments and a motel at the former Marian College site. In addition, Mr McIntrye is working on other apartment developments for the CBD.

All concepts have one thing in common; they’re fitting in with their historic surrounds. This doesn’t mean ‘fake heritage’ but structures that complement design and scale. We have seen too many ‘cowboy facades’ over the years that do nothing for heritage integrity.

It’s timely then that the council has just released a new draft heritage study, updating some worn-out documents. The study by Barker, Ryan Stewart recommends changes to the heritage conservation area, improved development controls and some new listings. It will soon go on public exhibition for 28 days.

If it only encourages shop owners to paint their buildings, that will be something.

All this aside, Goulburn could do with more motels close to the city centre, especially on peak weekends. Fortunately, these are becoming increasingly more common.