Heritage in Sydney?

Sydney is a global city, and will continue to draw new people. However, it is also very young, and this needs to be remembered as we slap heritage orders on asbestos sheds.

Dick Smith came out last week with comments about restricting skilled migration in order to contain population growth. This no doubt was prompted by Kevin Rudd’s comments about requiring migration and population growth so that the economy could feed the starving, geriatric baby-boomer masses in years to come. We’re being told to expect growth from 22 million now to 36 million by 2050, and that Labor’s infrastructure spending will get us there.

All this got me thinking about what this means for our cities and suburbs. No doubt it means that satellite suburbs such as Parramatta, Hornsby, Blacktown, Liverpool and Penrith will be of increasing importance. Developer groups seem to think that greenfield development is most important, though it seems that not many people agree with them.

It appears to me that it’s important to build housing where people want to live. And the best indicator we have for that… house prices. This doesn’t just mean medium-density middle and outer-ring suburbs, it means that the physical nature of suburbs close to the CBD are set to change dramatically once we run out of brownfield sites such as Barangaroo, the CUB site and Greensquare.

Which brings us to the theme in the title, heritage in Sydney. The requirement for higher inner suburb density will need to be balanced with the desire to protect the heritage of every outhouse that has stood since 1950. Genuine items of heritage should be protected. However, I find it difficult to understand attitudes towards heritage demonstrated by attempts to preserve an asbestos ridden former tram shed in Zetland. You can find details here (given the curious format provided by Central you will need to flip to page 12, top left corner. I’m looking at the January 27 issue, I don’t know how they deal with archived issues).

European culture has only existed in Sydney for a very short time. Sometimes I get the idea that this makes heritage advocates nervous so they try to protect everything that doesn’t move, and some things that do. We should look at each case on it’s merits; evaluating the aesthetics, social history, uniqueness of the object and benefit to the community of retaining the item. If possible, the object should be adapted for continued use.

A ugly brick shed on a busy street corner… I’ll take a bit of convincing.


One response to “Heritage in Sydney?

  1. Pingback: Rethinking heritage in Australia « Translations

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