Thursday, September 14, 2006

Woodhouse to report Commissioner

Local heritage activist Andrew Woodhouse intends to complain to the Attorney General over remarks made yesterday by a Commissioner from the Land & Environment Court.

New owners of the long-vacant Hungry Jacks site in Kings Cross are challenging Council's refusal of an application for a nightclub on the site. The owners have already retracted plans for a roof deck that would have been enclosed on three sides by the Funk House Backpackers which itself is opposing the application on grounds of noise.

In a press release yesterday Mr Woodhouse said:

"In the most extraordinary scene I have witnessed [in 15 years] Commissioner Hussey said blankly to a resident, an academic living in Carinthia, Springfield Avenue, giving his evidence on-site about noise problems,"Why don't you move?"

There was stunned, tacit outrage.

Then someone said ,"You're biased and looking for ways to approve the DA".

The Commissioner then rather rudely said to the owner of the business above the proposed pub, having heard evidence the building was not originally designed for such noise levels and didn't have sufficient acoustic sound proofing, "It's wishful thinking to expect such a building to be new".

In a 180 degree turnaround by the end of the afternoon's hearing the Commissioner was seeking criteria that would establish what "saturation point" meant in terms of too many such outlets.

We are lodging a formal complaint to the Attorney-general and Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the NSW Land & Environment Court."

On the other hand, a lot of us do wonder why these people concerned about noise move into the Cross. Another resident of Springfield Avenue made a submission supporting the application on the grounds that they had moved to the Cross because they like all the venue action and they couldn't see any further negative impact on their street from one more.

I have questioned the idea of an 'over-saturation' of licensed premises, arguing that the Cross has been 'over-saturated' for so long that it is part of the identity of the place. The saturation also brings benefits like plenty of security on the street, our new CCTV cameras monitoring crime and a concentrated, relatively small area for police to cover, allowing very fast response times in most cases. I also wonder whether each new club generates proportionately more people as much of their clientele is presumably filched from other clubs who are no longer 'flavour of the month'. Their $multi-million renovations only seem to work with the fast crowd for a year or so...

It's a hot debate in the Cross these days with the Lord Mayor firmly on the side of those who object to licenced premises.


GH said...

I agree that "over-saturation" is part of the identity of the Cross - as is for instance, Bourbon St, New Orleans, which has many more than 33 licensed premises on it's tiny strip and seems to get by quite nicely. Hugely successful as one of the world's major entertainment precincts and certainly popular with tourists. I wonder whether it has it's own share of ever-whining local residents (somehow I doubt it).

With regard to the Heritage Society's complaint, I'm thrilled that someone has finally and formally asked one of our own residents "Why don't you move?". While I wouldn't have put it in quite those words, I have never understood why anyone would live in an area they dislike so intensely and seem so unhappy living in.

Anonymous said...

I agree with GH. I moved to the area years ago since it is an exciting place to live - unlike St Ives

Why do people move to areas they feel the need to change?

Anonymous said...

I'm interested to know what the local Heritage Society's interest is in this particular DA? Does the conversion of the Hungry Jack's site into a nightclub impact negatively on heritage issues with the building? I wouldn't have thought so. Or what?

David said...

Our local heritage society seems to take a position on everything from dogs in parks to expressions of horror at any brothels in our area.

Perhaps more time should be spent on real heritage work by the society.

By the way, who are the members of our local heritage sociey?

Anonymous said...

I notice that when they are really needed, our Heritage Society are often not there.

For instance when a lot of locals were fighting to retain the neon signs on our strip (probably one of the more significant heritage items of the district), the Society was nowhere to be seen until the fight had been won by others and they were forced to reluctantly acknowledge the signs' signficance.

This is too often the case.

I also notice that the Society's work is often concerned with issues of morals rather than heritage. There is no connection between the two.

I don't know who the members of this Society are but a lot of their work has no right to be promoted under their Heritage Society banner.

Anonymous said...

Michael {editor} - I will not allow your blog spot to be used as a de-facto form of defamation boutique.

If anyone does not understand how a change of use can effect the changed characteristics of a heritage conservation area they can call me direct.

Although Hungry Jacks is just one site of many that has potential to despoil our area, the heritage society did not appear in this case or make a submission. I was an observer. To date this case has nothing to do with us.

As for the callow remarks about asking people to vacate their hoems for the sake of another pub, may I remind bloggers that residents have been here since 1834, well before any commercial existed? Most did not move into this area within the last 5 years. some have lived here since the 40s.

If people want to move them out they had better cough up the compensation!

And If anyone wants to doubt the validity of our membership base, I will happily show them the Court decision in which we intervened sucessfully after proving all our members legally exist.

If anyone does not understand how unleashed dogs running rampant 24 hours a day in a heritage-listed park can impact on its use and enjoyment by others I will happily explain it to them.

If anyone wants our submission on the neon lights issue I will happily give it to them. Our position is very clear and always has been: neon lights must satisfy the NSW Heritage Council criteria for listing - we found two. In this case the issues was taken up by other groups as well quite satisfactorily. We were very pleased they did so and congratulate them. However, we were nto tacit and made extensive submissions to Council at the time criticising Coucnil expert heritage person for producing such a cursory report.

This heritage society spends a lot of time and all its members' funds on heritage, nothing else.

We are, we admit, gimlet-eyed.

For example: St Johns Church, Darlinghurst, Jenner House, Ashton, Rockwall, Tusculum - all subject to big, complex, David-v- Goliath type DAs.

Then there are Heritage streetscape studies, heritage conservation area studies, heritage parks etc.

We put in more effort than people might first realise. We make at least 8 submissions at every council meeting on behalf of members.

We are ferociously independent and have no hesitation in taking on [and winning], in the mainstream and local media, campaigns against mega-developer companies with millions to spend on ads, big fat cats like Lindsey Fox, Australia's weathiest man, who just rips into a heritage-listed garden without the slightest thought for its significance and issues a legal statement "I know my legal rights", and we take on the NSW Heritage Council, the Minister for Planning, The NSW Land and Environment Court, the Australian Producitivity Commission [to which we made two submissions - one in Sydney and one in Melbourne [we put them right back in their box!]].Baron's restaurant was won in Council because we did the hard yards of research and
found the Court case that established the criteria for deciding the crucial issue - how to measure the social heritage significance of a building in a heritage conservation area.

All this IS REAL heritage work, apart form running local heritage tours.

We do all this with the support of the local community and our members - we have had real successes becase we know what we are talking about and we do not make extravagant claims.

We know the Burra Charter articles, the ICOCMOS ground rules, the NSW heritage guidelines and their criteria and we know how to do historical research and who how to apply it.

That's why we are the envy of our heritage soiceties, so nuch so, we set up a national Australia-wide heritae society umbrella group - we liaise and "talk heritage".

For all these efforts we receive no thanks and no money.

Our reward is simply knowing we have made a difference for future generations.

We simply strive to protect the past for our future.

We are happy to work in the background and support other groups if this helps.

I urge anybody to disucss these things of heritage interest with me before blogging on to whinge and make derogotary remarks about any group.

Thank you,
Andrew Woodhouse
Potts Point & Kings Cross Heritage Society
Ph 0415 949 506

Ph 0415 949 506
Do nto post blogs here.

The Editor said...

It seems free speech as practised on this blog is a no-no. I was just accosted on the street by the president of the Heritage Society, Andrew Woodhouse, who claimed the comments above were defamatory. I was told to remove them within 14 days or face legal action.

However Mr Woodhouse's comment in reply above is, on face value, a very concise and powerful rebuttal of some of the questions that were asked.

This is why free debate is healthy -- it's a step better than unconfirmed rumours which we all know run rampant and do damage.

This forum is a lot fairer than traditional media which can attack someone and yet deny them fair right of reply.

So I do not intend to remove this debate from the blog. It is the very reason it exists.

Lord knows I have received far worse flaming in comments (if you want to dig into the archives there are some pearlers, slander of the worst kind). But I have left these comments posted as they reveal more about the sad people who posted them than any lie they might tell about me.

Lighten up Andrew! Your work and your turns of phrase are too unique to be distracted by another feud!

The Editor said...

emailed today:

Dear Mr Woodhouse,

I refer to your threat of commencing defamation proceedings against me in relation to matters published on the Kings Cross Times blog.

In order that I may obtain further legal advice and properly consider your request to withdraw such entries from this blog, I should be grateful if you would:
1 -- identify the word/s which you claim to be defamatory;
2 -- advise what are the defamatory imputations that you claim may be drawn from the word/s.

I trust you will appreciate that blogs are now an essential part of the exercise of the right to free speech. This indeed was the right exercised by you when you issued your media release criticising a Commissioner of the Land Environment Court. If you can justify your claim that, in this instance, the exercise of the right to free speech has crossed the line into defamatory conduct then I would be prepared to consider your request to remove the offending parts(identified by you) from the blog.


Michael Gormly

The Editor said...

In reply to the above email, I received this from Mr Woodhouse. Subject: 'No'.

To: M Gormley

Under no circumstances are you to attempt to communicate with me. See you in court.


Anonymous said...

Well, well, well. Who cares if someone moved into an area 5 years ago or 100 years ago? If one rents or if one owns? All who meet national citizenship and residency requirements are allowed to enrol on the electoral roll.

In terms of various claims regarding compensation for those driven out by visual clutter etc - rent or buy a property in Pymble if you don't like it - it is a free country - use your democratic rights to protest if you don't like a DA - don't be immature about it. If not, move somewhere else - owner or renter - simple as that.

Furthermore, this country should be quintessentially about free speech. The puerile comments from some on this blog regarding certain possible legal matters are baseless, ridiculous and futile.

This blog is an embodiment of what makes Kings Cross so fabulous - colourful locals who contribute something of their personalities to the life of the community.

Think of the loud newspaper editors,even certain local activists with hair implants, old ladies who feed homeless cats, junkies asking for a spare bob, the groovy sax player on Darlinghurst Rd just to name a few.

Good on the Kings Cross Times and when are you coming back to print!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey! I've got a great idea for the over saturation problem in the Cross. We could put a glass roof over the whole of the main drag, maybe pop a couple of escalators in and then install 1 x Bed Bath & Towel, 1 x Sportsgirl, 1 x Storage King, 1 x Athlete's Foot, 1 x Tarocash, 1 x HMV Music, 1 x Target, 1 x Vodaphone store, etc. Get the idea? I could probably even come up with a new name for the new Cross! Crossfield? Kingsfield? I'll work on it)