Cowper Street house demolition divides opinion

Four double-storey villas will go ahead, following Goulburn Mulwaree Council’s unanimous approval on Tuesday to demolish a 1930s house at 163 Cowper Street. Photo: file

Four double-storey villas will go ahead, following Goulburn Mulwaree Council’s unanimous approval on Tuesday to demolish a 1930s house at 163 Cowper Street. Photo: file

They’ve been termed “Lego boxes” and “out of character” in a mainly single-storey residential street.

But four double-storey villas will go ahead, following the council’s unanimous approval on Tuesday to demolish a 1930s house at 163 Cowper Street.

The developers, Chris and Marion Rowlands, plan to build two brick units facing the street, with another two behind on the L-shaped block.

Cr Carol James had no hesitation endorsing the project, saying there was demand for this type of housing close to town.

“The drawings look nice and it fits the area. I know they are two-storey but a lot of Californian bungalows have high-pitched roofs.”

Cr Peter Walker said while he took on board public objections, the houses were “very presentable” and fitted in with a long-term strategy to create more housing close to the CBD.

The neighbours had a different view. 

“Moving in the direction of the developer’s rents of these Lego boxes is marketing hegemony,” one objector wrote.

“First inland city status implies and recommends keeping the streetscape and other values and if this is eroded, little by little, this important status can be lost,” another wrote.

Another submission reminded the council that it was “under an obligation to preserve and maintain” the street’s heritage nature.

The DA attracted 13 submissions objecting to the impact on the heritage conservation area, the buildings’ scale and density, “loss of” privacy and view, tree removal, noise and traffic. But planners said the design, incorporating gables, hipped roofs and window awnings, with garages located behind and landscaping, offered “continuity” within the streetscape.

The Goulburn Heritage Group did not object, saying while it didn’t support “the needless destruction of old buildings,” it supported the development for its large open space between units and high architectural standard,” in contrast to “the current crop of tightly cramped villas that are currently degrading the inner charm of this city.”

The council’s heritage adviser initially argued the house should be retained but if demolition was supported, then the houses should be single-storey, the developer’s heritage study stated. However a council report stated that the adviser did not object, provided an archival record of the house was kept.

A heritage impact statement completed for the developers concluded that the house was not an outstanding example of the Californian Bungalow in Goulburn and only had a minor contribution to the streetscape. It also cited extensive cracking in and outside the house and a “parlous state of repair.”

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