An article in yesterday’s Townsville Bulletin (Fire danger forces Strand nuns out) confirmed the over-zealous stance of the Townsville City Council on heritage, which I’ve noted in a previous post. The Bulletin reports:
NUNS have had to leave a 100-year-old timber convent in the grounds of St Patrick’s on The Strand because of the dangers posed by fire, asbestos and lead paint…
…The Sisters of Mercy applied to council for permission to demolish the convent and to build a new $12 million building with public access areas in its place. The Townsville City Council knocked back the application.
Council instead saw merit in preserving the existing non-serviceable building for posterity and to that end rejected the Sisters of Mercy application.
So enamoured of the present building is the council, it is applying to have it added to the Queensland Heritage Register. If it was successful in having the building registered, the convent would become an architectural curio of no practical use.
Congregation leader for the Sisters of Mercy in Townsville Sister Marie said if it was registered the sisters would be left with no alternative but to lock it up.
The Council’s position defies logic and the wishes of the Sisters of Mercy, who you think would be in the best position to weigh up the competing concerns of the best current use of the site and heritage considerations. Why not extensively photograph or video the convent for the historical record, and then knock it down and build a new convent?