Campaign to save historic Willow Grove enters new phase

May 18, 2021
Suzette Meade, spokesperson for Save Willow Grove. Photo: Viv Miley

The campaign to save historic Willow Grove in Parramatta from being torn down to make way for the new Museum of Arts and Applied Sciences (Powerhouse Museum) is ramping up.

The Save Willow Grove campaign is taking the New South Wales government to the Land and Environment Court over May 24–25 to argue the project should be stopped and the historic Italianate villa saved.

Meanwhile, a green ban remains in place thanks to the NSW Construction and Maritime union (CFMEU). CFMEU members have vowed to stand in the way of the building being demolished.

Support within the community to save the historic site is strong. Thousands of people marched in Parramatta on May 1 to support the green ban.

Save Willow Grove spokesperson Suzette Meade told a community gathering in Parramatta Park on May 16 that the fight is “two-pronged”. “We have a legal case coming up in the Land and Environment Court, and obviously we have our backup muscle, with the green ban.”

Meade said the legal case is costly, but it is being represented by an experienced barrister. “It is a very simple judicial case, where the government did not apply its own rules in planning [for the Powerhouse Museum].”

“This is a public interest case,” Meade said. “There is public interest everywhere in this [case], because this is our heritage. [Willow Grove] belongs to all of us and to the next generation as well, and that’s why we want to keep it here.

“This is a precedent case for heritage all over NSW. If the government is successful in being able to move heritage where they would like it to go — or [putting it] in a skip – then [this case will be cited] by any developer going forward.

“So, this is more than just about the future of Willow Grove, this is about the future of heritage in all of NSW.”

[Susan Price is running for Community Need Not Corporate Greed in the City of Parramatta elections. Save Willow Grove is encouraging supporters to attend the Land and Environment Court hearings on May 24–25 at 225 Macquarie Street, Sydney, at 10am.]

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