Pandemic reprieve for Willow Grove demolition, Green Ban remains

Supporters of the Green Ban are monitoring the historic house from every angle. Photo: Save Willow Grove / Facebook

Defenders of the historic Willow Grove in Parramatta were disappointed with the NSW Supreme Court’s decision on July 16 to green light its destruction to make way for the Powerhouse Museum.

However, they are determined to fight on to protect the site.

While the construction industry has paused due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Greater Sydney and no work to dismantle Willow Grove can proceed, residents and unions are ready to defend and protect the site if that changes.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Maritime Union (CFMEU) reaffirmed its Green Ban to protect the site on July 16 and warned the government against using the lockdown to start the bulldozers.

CFMEU NSW secretary Darren Greenfield said the union stands with the community “to protect this unique and irreplaceable piece of local heritage”. He said builders “need to understand that the union will step in” if they try to start demolishing the heritage site.

“We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Parramatta and the NSW community in the fight to save Willow Grove.”

He also called on the government and Infrastructure NSW to “sit down with the community to find a way to build the Powerhouse without destroying this important heritage site”.

North Parramatta Residents Action Group spokesperson, Suzette Meade said on July 16: “Plan A has always been the passion and the power of the community and unions working together. In the spirit of Jack Mundey, a CFMEU green ban will save this site, and Willow Grove will remain ... The legal proceedings were always our Plan B.

“The people of Parramatta shouldn’t have to choose between our heritage and cultural funding — we deserve to have both, and the community will continue to fight for this.”

[Susan Price is standing in the City of Parramatta for election to council on the  ticket and is a member of the Socialist Alliance.]