Hawkesbury Heritage

Talking with Hawkesbury Business Owner Darren Pead about Windsor Mall

Darren Pead is committed to the economic health of the Hawkesbury, running Guy Stuff, Lollies 'N Stuff and Delicious Desserts – all in Windsor Mall.

He’s also passionate about how we present and promote our town centres, balancing renewal with enhancement of our wonderful heritage.
Council has spent the last three years developing a strategy for renewal in our town centres as part of our participation in the $18.75M Western Parkland City Liveability Program.

A hilarious early rendering of how the Windsor Mall renewal might look. No thanks.

Darren has travelled the world to look at how other historic townships put their heritage front and centre, and asks if we’ve gotten the mix right.

Embedded path medallions could be innovative wayfinding to guide walkers on a Heritage Trail linking Windsor Station to Thompson Square.
An example of a historic precinct done right - Temple Street in Boston

Recently the community has affirmed it wants the rotunda and the gas lanterns preserved and restored in Windsor Mall, but Darren points to the huge proportion of the available budget being lost to just one aspect - uprooting and relaying all the paving, when repairs to the existing paving (badly needed - no argument) could unlock millions to get better value from the project as a whole.

I don’t want to see wrought iron seating replaced with sterile, Westfield-style bland street furniture.

The most recent iteration of the town centre renewal plan suggests bland, modern street furniture unsuited to a historic precinct.

A heritage trail could link Windsor Station to Thompson Square with medallions embedded in the pathways and an extension of heritage-styled lanterns down George St.

Darren and I would like to see the plan - otherwise excellent, given one more pass by Councillors to ensure that the money is spent where it will do the most good.
We sat down and had a chat this week and it makes for a fascinating conversation.


Council Committees and protecting our Heritage

Hawkesbury City Council has no less than 17 different Committees.

They’re a mess – some have been around since Noah. Some have forgotten the reason for their creation. Some took it upon themselves to re-write their own terms of reference. Some are chaired by Councillors, some are not. Some take in members of the broader community as voting members, some not.

Some of the committees do good work, and enrich the decision making processes of Council. Some… not so much. Each committee requires staff resources to prepare agendas, minutes, and convene meetings.

A proposal was advanced at tonight’s Council meeting to restructure our committees for the first time in decades. It was a great idea – it streamlines the number and remit of committees, taking on detailed feedback received by a Council review over the last year.

It ensured that our committee meetings were public and open to public address (they aren’t now). That agendas are pre-published, and that documentation was available in a timely way to Councillors and the public alike.

It promotes the importance of existential threats like floods and bushfires to become the concern of the whole Chamber – not just a subcommittee.

I agreed. Many times I’ve been in a committee meeting and thought 'I wish all my colleagues were hearing this'.

I disagreed on one critical point – the proposal, as it was moved, sought to abolish our Heritage Committee.

Our Heritage Committee, which I’ve been a member of for four years, carries a disproportionate weight for Council. HCC doesn’t employ a full-time Heritage Officer. The members of this committee are a rare and special fraternity of heritage wisdom, including scientists, heritage architects, historians, and planning experts. We’re very fortunate to have them give their knowledge to us around the year, completely gratis. Put it this way – if we had to pay for their advice, we couldn’t afford it. The work this committee does fills a huge gap that would be impossible to fill if the committee was dissolved – and the motion before me sought to do just that. It sought to amalgamate its function into a committee with no community representatives and which shared billing with Waste and Environmental Sustainability – fairly poor bedfellows.

So, when the vote came, and despite my support for committee reform generally, I voted for a deferral so we could talk as a group of 12 about a better outcome that both permits reform, and protects our unique Heritage (and this committee). I expect the matter will come back to Council before Christmas.

Picture: Summer Noon, Hawkesbury River; Arthur Streeton, 1896.

 

Here are the remarks I made to Council when this came up: