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Braidwood Rounds: Heritage gutters drowned in cement attract flood of protest

Braidwood Rounds with Jill McLeod

On Friday afternoon, January 23, a group of Braidwood citizens took to the footpath and unfinished pedestrian crossing outside the National Theatre to express their disgust with the latest insult to their sensitivities concerning the ridiculously over-designed and poorly engineered second zebra project.

On January 10 a heavy rainfall had proved too much for the heritage street gutters now reduced to narrow channels under copious amounts of cement – so much cement in fact that the result is referred to as a heli-pad. And, indeed, so much reduction in the capacity of the gutters, that storm water invaded shops on the eastern side of Wallace Street which is a section of the Kings Highway.

Zebra crossing campaign spurs unwanted ‘remedies’

The story leading to the loss of integrity of the stone gutters spans many years. As far back as the early 1990s members of Tourism Tallaganda discussed the necessity to install a second zebra crossing on a section of the southern half of the main street. Unfortunately these early thoughts gained no purchase and it was following the establishment of the Braidwood Region Seniors Association in 2009 that the idea took hold once again.

Six long years of letter writing and representations, including the more recent involvement of the Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, finally lead to agreement that Braidwood would gain a second zebra crossing. The new crossing would stretch across the road between the National Theatre and the Braidwood Community Bank

A media release from the Monaro electorate office dated October 22, 2013 stated: “Pedestrian safety will be improved on the Kings Highway at Braidwood with a planned second crossing in the town centre, as a result of intervention by the Member for Monaro…”

Of course the wheels of any layer of government do not move speedily. Add the confusion as to the ‘ownership of responsibility’ for different sections of the road. My understanding is that the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) own the two centre lanes of the highway and the Palerang Council is responsible for the car parking spaces.

The General Manager of Palerang Council explained in the Braidwood Times dated December 10, “RMS has provided the funding but commissioned Palerang Council to undertake the project. As such, it remains Palerang Council’s overall responsibility to deliver the project … however RMS remains involved in approving certain stages of the project.”

During 2014 Council made drawings and information available for residents to view and comment.  The plans appeared to indicate reasonably modest cemented areas and did not mention the need for additional street lighting. It was the revelation of the necessity and the installation of additional ugly electricity poles and cables that finally broke the camel’s back

The group of Braidwood residents who were finally goaded into action are people who are proud lovers of Braidwood and appreciate the town’s important heritage values.

Heritage values undermined by overkill

Braidwood is the first town to be listed on the NSW State Heritage Register, the town, its setting and view cones having been entered on March 30, 2006. There are also four local individual entries on the NSW State Heritage Register – Bedervale, The Braidwood Museum. The Mill Centre and the Albion building.

The Heritage Council of NSW, housed in the NSW Government’s Department of the Environment describes the town as follows. “First planned in 1839, Braidwood is a charming and excellent surviving example of a Georgian period town. Set amongst rolling hills, Braidwood is a rare colonial town that retains much of its historic form and fabric today.”

The protestors request the following – the removal of the overkill cement areas, the restoration of the integrity of the stone gutters, the removal of the power poles and electricity cables and the restoration of the historic streetscape which has been much in demand as a film location.

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