Leave your good taste at the door 7.8.2011


The most recent beachside high-rise residential building to go up in town took me by surprise during the week – not for anything fantastic, just its blandness.

This Google earth shot shows the corner it occupies, opposite a little park above South Newcastle beach. Location, location, location and all that.

What a great spot to whale watch or count coal ships. (I had a letter back from a minister in the last state government after I whined about the fleet of them on the horizon: he said something like ‘there are only about fifteen ships at any one time now, not the forty or fifty there used to be so what are you complaining about?’…)

I heard a rumour that the developer of the building in the photo had wanted to paint it white but was encouraged not to. IMHO, it would have been better than the thing we’ve ended up with: a plastic-looking thing that will grace the corner for a century or so. Such foresight. Such Vision.

And segueing cleverly to another example of Vision, here’s a nice article by Greg Ray from the Herald, in case you missed it. Some of us have always wondered if there was an infrastructure project behind the plan to remove the Laman Street figs, and late last year, just after the first vote to rip out the fig trees, the project to turn the street into Anzac Centennial Place appeared.

It hadn’t been endorsed by the elected council, and to my knowledge still hasn’t. There’s no funding for the project so it’s about as real as the $2 million or so that will be used to do up the street once the trees go. It seems the plan is to make Laman Street look like an ACT car park – which would be very nice in Canberra, we just don’t need a street like that here.

Plane tree

 The pre-funding proposal that was written (here’s a link to a scanned versiondouble-click on the pages to read the patronising text) was alleged to have been done with the knowledge and acquiescence of the veteran community, so it was interesting what was told to Mr Ray when he contacted representatives: ‘…the president of the Newcastle sub-branch of the RSL, Doug Jackson, …said he had never heard of the idea. “Nobody’s approached us,” he said.

‘His two observations were that the sub-branch wasn’t keen on having any existing Civic Park war memorials shifted and that people might wonder if this big plan had anything to do with the council’s extraordinary enthusiasm for the destruction of the Laman Street figs.

‘The president of the RSL district council, Ray Bennett, told me he was aware of the council’s Anzac centenary memorial plan and thought it made sense.

‘”If they ever turn Laman Street into a mall it would be a good place for a memorial,” Mr Bennett said.

‘But he also volunteered his personal opinion that such a memorial wouldn’t require the destruction of the trees.

‘”The RSL has not been approached about the removal of the fig trees so I can’t speak for the organisation,” he said.’


And if you haven’t seen it already, don’t forget to have a quick look at the two Laman Street assessments done by Treelogic, available here or on the front page of the blog in the links at right (as usual, double-click to enlarge).

In 2008, the trees had  a useful life expectancy of 25-50 years and had mostly good or fair health ratings. Less than a month ago (Treelogic came back here?) they were judged to have a useful life expectancy of zero and mostly poor health ratings. To the untrained eye, they look the same today as they did three years ago. Amazing, isn’t it? I have no doubt one of my arborist fans will alert me to the way to pick the changes.



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2 Responses to “Leave your good taste at the door 7.8.2011”

  1. David Horkan. Says:

    I confess that I rather like looking at the ships (although not the building) as a former seafarer.

    It’s not like the old days when sewage was discharged directly through a vent in the side. If you didn’t take care with your position and timing when coming alongside an anchored ship somebody could be left with an upleasant cleaning job.


  2. ArchitectGJA (Ed) Says:

    It appears from those linked reports that the Laman Street Figs have seriously aged in redevelopment years. But there is a cure for that, it’s called creative design.

    Why is Newcastle promoting its international reputation that the only buildable land can be found under heritage tree roots or on top of precious Aboriginal archaeological sites? The entire Central Business District must be massively overcrowded with heritage buildings in full use and beyond their capacities, so obviously none are available for adaptive reuse…

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