BAW Baw’s councillors approved three major construction projects in the region at their meeting on Wednesday, but not all of them were supported unanimously.
Above: signs, balloons and chalked messages outside one of the Mason Street buildings calling for them to be kept. The chalk reads "these homes are a big piece of Warragul's history"
First published in the 26 June 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy free from retailers across Baw Baw today.
The six dwellings at 8-16 Mason Street, Warragul, will be demolished to make way for a major new retail and residential development almost across the road from the Newmason building, which is now nearing completion.
Covered by a heritage overlay but not heritage listed themselves, the residences were protected because, according to the council’s heritage advisor, they were “good architectural examples in the
‘Tudorbethan’ style which was popular in the 1930s when they were constructed.”
That was the angle one of the residents of the buildings played on when objecting to the motion at the start of the meeting.
“There are cracks and creaks in the buildings, but that’s to be expected,” the submitter said.
“These buildings have lacked care, but are not at the demolishing stage.
“The units can be saved and history and heritage can be saved. There is charm.
“People walking past tell stories of their memories of the buildings.”
The submitter also presented a joint letter signed by opponents of the demolition to councillors.
What will replace the buildings is a modern, multi-storey mixed retail and residential building, featuring eight dwellings.
Warragul ward councillor Mikaela Power and Drouin ward’s Tricia Jones voted against the motion and Warragul’s Gerard Murphy was unable to vote on the motion as he owned properties adjacent to the site.
On moving the motion to allow demolition, Mount Worth ward’s Peter Kostos said the move would allow for progress.
“I think it’s fairly pertinent to note that this area is right in the middle of the business/commercial area of Warragul,” he said.
“With all due respect to the lady who lives there… there is a far better use for the land.
“In a heritage overlay area, if buildings like these need to be demolished to produce a far better outcome then it’s allowable.”
Above: An artist’s impression of what the new building will look like.
Fellow Mount Worth councillor Murray Cook said the new building followed the precedent set by the Newmason development.
“Newmason is setting a new bar for building within Warragul, if not the whole shire,” he said.
Warragul’s Joe Gauci said the developments on Mason Street were a sign “Warragul and Drouin are growing up.”
“Comments are made that we still have vacant shops in town,” he said.
“But Newmason is 100 per cent leased – people want new spaces. That collects people, that brings people to the town.
“Mason Street could end up being our main street as we grow out that way with future developments.”
Cr Power said she found the motion “a real struggle because I’ve known the buildings since I was a kid.”
“I want Warragul and Drouin to grow up but I don’t want us to leave behind our past,” she said.
“A town that forgets its past may not have a future.”
Councillors also approved the building of a restricted retail precinct on Hazel Drive in Warragul’s east.
The planning permit “for buildings and works associated with the development of a restricted retail precinct, business identification signage, and a reduction in the standard car parking requirements” was passed unanimously.
The site is 5.723 hectares in size and also abuts Queen Street on the way to Nilma.
Councillors said the location of the development would not damage Warragul’s CBD, despite the distance of the site from there.
“It is a different type of retail precinct,” Cr Cook explained at Wednesday’s meeting.
“It is designed that you drive there and purchase a different kind of product than you do at the heart of Warragul.”
And finally, the Sand Road freeway overpass has been approved by councillors.
“Yippiee, about time,” North ward councillor Deb Brown said.
The long-requested overpass will replace the present standard intersection, which sees cars crossing the freeway like it were a normal intersection.
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