By June Bullivant OAM
NSW State architect rolls in his grave – 200 years later his work faces destruction.
If Francis Greenway was alive today, he would be on the streets protesting about what the modern day State Architect is proposing to do to his work that has lasted for 200 years. Peter Poulet – the current State Architect – is not a designer of grand old buildings, instead he likes modern art, “A well travelled artist” as this story in the Daily Telegraph tells us.
The question therefore has to be asked why a fellow that has no experience in design becomes the State Architect in charge of the ‘Architects Office’. Of course, the answer is a very simple one. You have a NSW Government that does not believe in saving our heritage and wants to sell it at any price. And that the original State Officer Francis Greenway remains relegated to a $10 note.
Francis Greenway (1777-1837), architect, was born at Mangotsfield, near Bristol, England, son of Francis Greenway and Ann, née Webb. The Greenways had been stonemasons, builders and architects in the west country for generations. Francis was in private practice as an architect in Bristol when in March 1812 he was found guilty of forging a document.
He was sentenced to death but the penalty was later changed to transportation for fourteen years. He arrived in Sydney in February 1814 in the transport General Hewitt, and was followed in July by his wife Mary, whom he had married about 1804, and three children in the Broxbornebury.
This is what the community is facing NSW from the State Government, no longer is heritage a precious commodity to be saved for the future use of the people, but a treasure to be sold. It is ironic then that poor old Francis is put on our currency, for that is what is happening.
Peter Poulet presides over the work of the heritage destroyers ‘Urban Growth’, which is the development arm of the State, but managed by young inexperienced people who think that a visit by the Premier or minister to announce a grand plan of destruction, is the best thing ever. Urban Growth have lodged a development application with the Baird Government appointed Administrator at Parramatta which will see the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct sliced into three to sell off to the highest bidder.
The office of the State Architect – whatcha has been a powerhouse for 200 years – has been dumbed down. It has now been reduced to an artist’s studio, not a design of grand buildings in sight, and the NSW community are fighting for their very life to stop the destruction of their heritage for the history and the future economy of NSW and Australia.
The problem with all of this is that when it is sold, when it is destroyed by high rise buildings, there will be nothing left that can bring tourist revenue to Parramatta. If the politicians – including Geoff Lee the local member – had an original thought that was sold by someone like Francis Greenway, they could see what a potential tourism site this could be: a desired destination of tourists from all over the world and it would boost the Parramatta economy for many years to come. But no, Mr Lee has been advised (wrongly) that he will get the site World Heritage Listed after the site has been destroyed.
Not so, Mr Lee, not so.
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