Community attempts to rescue bus shelter walling
by DAVID HOGG
5th February 2019
Concern on lack of consultation
A HUGE community effort has gone into mitigating the effects of a Public Transport Victoria (PTV) decision to reconstruct the 906 bus terminus at the bridge roundabout; demolishing a wall and damaging heritage stairs in the process.
This work is part of PTV’s ongoing future-proofing of bus stops in the area to allow for the potential introduction of bendy buses.
PTV handed the work over to VicRoads to manage as part of the bridge reconstruction and to be performed simultaneously to prevent the need for any further disruption.
VicRoads had been planning this work for some time and had applied to Manningham Council for an alteration to the original permit to include this work — a permit being required because of the heritage overlay applying to the site.
Manningham Council did not advertise this planning request, deeming it to be of minor nature, and in June 2018 they amended the original permit to include this work.
The Diary has learned from VicRoads correspondence that Council had referred the permit amendment to its heritage advisor and urban design team.
It was recommended that the works reuse as much of the existing stone work as possible and care should be taken to match the new stone wall in size, colour, arrangement and visibility.
The first that locals knew of this work was in mid-November when fencing was erected around the site and contractors began to demolish the existing heritage stone walling, which caused damage to the historic stone steps.
A group of concerned residents, along with the Warrandyte Historical Society (WHS), convened meetings with VicRoads and their subcontractors, reminding them of their community obligations and offered the pro-bono services of local conservation stonemason James Charlwood as a design consultant to oversee the rebuilding to the appropriate standards.
Warrandyte Historical Society President, Margaret Kelly, spoke to the Diary regarding the bus stop works.
“The Warrandyte Historical Society was disappointed that there had been no warning of the work to be undertaken on the bus stop wall (this would have allowed photos to be taken for archival purposes) or neither it or other community groups had been consulted on the project.
“This highly visible, central area of the Warrandyte Township Heritage Precinct is historically significant and the Society is concerned that any changes to any of the various elements should be in line with the relevant plans and guidelines.
“We were pleased with the community response and the quick involvement of individuals to try to ensure the best outcome,” she said.
Last year, WHS was successful in negotiating the fate of the Old Dairy with Council and Melbourne Water and are hopeful that this sort of consultation will happen again in the future.
WHS along with Warrandyte Community Association are meeting with Council this month to discuss heritage protection in Warrandyte.
Mr Charlwood has produced a comprehensive Concluding Report which is highly critical of VicRoads, the sub-contractors and Manningham Council for their inadequate provisions to protect the heritage assets.
A copy of the report is available from the Diary upon request.
Whilst to a layperson the finished result may look acceptable, Mr Charlwood is critical that the style of the new work fails to match the adjacent walling.
Others have commented that the diagonal cyclone fencing above the wall detracts from the overall look and feel.
And it is noted that despite all this work, nothing has yet been done to rectify the broken stonework rumble strip that separates the bus stop from the Yarra Street traffic.
It is not known whether further work is intended here, but it would be a shame to leave the broken stonework as is, as the surrounding area and roundabout have been rebuilt.
Theresa Dawson, who was a driving force behind the community initiative to preserve the wall told the Diary: “There are a lot of new people living here now who are more than likely unaware that the reason they are able to live in such a unique and beautiful suburb, in such close proximity to the CBD, is because of the tireless work through the 70s and 80s of the Warrandyte Environment League, WCA, many other diligent locals and the Diary, that acted impartially to present necessary facts to locals.
“We need to continue to honour the legacy of all these groups and individuals by standing up and carrying on their work if we wish to continue enjoying such a lovely village with rich history.”
The last 24 months have seen community groups defending heritage in the face of utilitarian progress and the Diary looks forward to reporting on the plans to help maintain cultural heritage.