Relief and happiness washed over a group of Hurst Street residents on Wednesday morning as they gathered outside a home saved from the bulldozer.
Goulburn Mulwaree councillors on Tuesday night unanimously rejected a development application to demolish 22 Hurst Street and replace it with a near eight-metre high house neighbours had dubbed a "McMansion."
"I'm thrilled to bits," Bradley Street resident Carmen Fischer said.
"I won't have to look at that horrible thing staring at me."
She and husband Don's house backs on to the Hurst Street home. Like others, they joined a vigorous campaign opposing demolition and construction of a seven-bedroom, six-bathroom structure with basement car parking in the heritage conservation area. They argued it was "totally" out of character with the heritage precinct, would overshadow homes and did not meet standards in council planning laws.
Another resident, Margaret Kearns, was "elated" by the council decision. She extensively researched number 22's history as part of her submission and discovered it was the first house built in the street in 1889. Mrs Kearns, with neighbours David and Pauline Mullen, have called for the home's inclusion on the council's LEP and listing of Hurst Street itself as a heritage streetscape.
Mrs Kearns said the campaign had united the neighbourhood, some of whom were relatively new residents and hadn't previously met. When she discovered only five neighbours had been notified of the DA last October, Mrs Kearns successfully lobbied the council for wider notification and a two-week time extension for public submissions.
"We called two public meetings of neighbours. (Resident) Pamela Maple-Brown hosted us in her home and about 30 people attended both meetings," she said.
"...There's been a lot of work, a lot of research and a lot of worry (but)...I hope this sets an example of how Goulburn's heritage can be protected.
"...The DA was incomplete, inadequate and didn't address the issues."
'Reason to reject'
Council planners agreed and recommended refusal. A report stated the proposed neo-Georgian replacement did not promote good design and amenity or "orderly economic use of the land." Further, the DA did not address the proposal's impact on heritage conservation and significance, effect of earthworks and solar access on neighbouring homes, and was considered to be "not in the public interest." On the latter, planners said the applicant hadn't demonstrated impacts on heritage, bulk and scale, adjacent houses, the natural environment and streetscape, wouldn't have a negative effect.
"The proposal as designed does not complement, nor is in keeping with the streetscape and conservation area and will result in the loss of a valuable contributory item," the report stated.
"The application was not supported by the necessary reports for council to conduct a full assessment of impacts."
Planners had requested further information but the applicant had not responded.
Thirty-eight opposing submissions, 21 from Hurst Street residents, also highlighted "deficiencies." Many argued, and planners agreed, that demolition had not been adequately justified and that cracking in itself was not a reason. Mrs Kearns said there was no structural assessment or quantity surveyor's report detailing the cost of repair versus demolition. The applicant, Randall Dutaillis Architects, acting for owner Peter Arkcoll, had simply stated this was "not in the client's brief."
Felton Constructions had designed the two-storey replacement which the applicant said was designed to complement the heritage area. But residents variously described it as "an ugly and dominating presence in the street," "monolithic," and a "McMansion" pegged for an area with predominantly early Federation style buildings. Council planners too branded it "confrontational in appearance."
Some questioned the home's use, noting three large living areas, a grand piano and apparent upstairs function area and dining room to seat 22 people. There was also an underground cellar and gym.
"This is certainly not your typical suburban family home," Mrs Kearns wrote.
However the applicant told The Post it was designed as a family home and no other use was intended.
Submitters also raised the loss of garden area and maintained approval would set a precedent.
"The wanton destruction of a 19th century residence and associated landscaping in one of the most important heritage streets in the city is unjustified, unwarranted and goes against the values that the council professes to uphold," Mhairi and Peter Fraser wrote.
Planner acknowledged consent could result in the public having "little faith in the planning system and approval process."
Goulburn Heritage Group called for "urgent infill and redevelopment guidelines" in heritage conservation areas.
"These guidelines must ensure that all future projects in this area will uphold, rather than destroy, the architectural heritage of this city we value so highly," the submission stated.
Environment and planning director Scott Martin previously told The Post that this would be addressed through the development control plan.
Acting on last month's decision, the council will now investigate 22 Hurst Street's inclusion as a heritage item on the LEP as well as the street's listing.
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Mrs Kearns said while people needed more information on what this would mean, she welcomed the move if it resulted in access to heritage grants.
Meantime, Mr Mullen was heartened by the the fact the wider community also lodged public submissions.
"It sends the message that Goulburn residents fell strongly about heritage," he said.
"A unanimous rejection of the DA was the appropriate response."
Cr Carol James and operations director Matt O'Rourke declared interests in the matter and left the meeting during discussion.
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