Since 1832, the Bathurst Town Square has undergone much transformation in response to meeting the differing and often changing needs, of the community. The Square has always been, and continues to be, a public space in the heart of Bathurst.
In the 1840s and 1850s the Bathurst community decided the future of their Town Square. They wanted it to be an active community centre, a place for education and entertainment, markets and churches – not the grand open plaza with a solitary church shown on the Town Plan.
Today, the Bathurst community again has an opportunity to shape the future face of their Town Square.
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Wish Upon a Square – Overview
Council adopted the Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the former Bathurst TAFE site as a strategic document in August 2015. The key aim of the CMP is to identify and manage the heritage significance of the former Bathurst TAFE site and the Bathurst Town Square.
Council released the CMP to the community as part of the “Wish Upon a Square” campaign held in conjunction with the Town Square exhibition held at the Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum between September and November 2015. The exhibition was produced by the Bathurst Town Square Group.
The aim of the “Wish Upon a Square” campaign was to provide an opportunity to share information about the TAFE CMP and ask for the community to share their vision for the future of the Bathurst Town Square.
A total of 99 submissions were received as part of the campaign. This document includes those submissions and provides a broad summary of the key themes raised in them.
The submissions will continue to inform the ongoing master planning of the Bathurst Town Square.
Wish Upon a Square – Summary of Submissions
- For the Square to become a vibrant and active community centre, showcasing local food, wine and entertainment.
- Removal of fences, car parks and walls to emphasise freedom of access. Allow pop-up stalls and an area suitable for multi-purpose use.
- Create a festival to celebrate the Town Square where local artists can sell their artworks.
- Remove unsympathetic additions to TAFE building including automotive body centre building. Develop existing parking area behind TAFE as market square, outdoor concert venue and cultural events etc.
- Businesses which now face out into George and William Streets could open out to the Square, creating some eating and coffee venues.
- Use of the fenced green area between the AFMM and the Post Office for suitable activities, and the adjacent Post Office wall for projected images.
- The former Bathurst TAFE site would be an excellent location for an ‘art and cultural centre. Artists in the Bathurst Region don’t have (at this time) a place to meet and paint.
- The TAFE building would transform into desirable living accommodation with car parking space at AFMM and Church Street.
- The space between the AFMM and the Post Office is a fenced lawned space that is ideal for small scale public events, perhaps for use as a periodic outdoor arts and craft market or collectibles swap meet.
- We have the opportunity to transform Bathurst Town Square into a pedestrian accessible precinct, a place that is not only ‘people friendly’ but also interesting to visit. To achieve this objective, the opening of old laneways as well as creating new ones should have a place at least equal in importance to plans that may be proposed for buildings and vehicle access and parking…Church street should be closed as a through street with the closed end replaced with a seamless pedestrian connection to King’s Parade… Laneways should incorporate the planting of trees and shrubs so as to offer shade and soften the visual impact of the surrounding brick buildings…The laneways could include:- A small scale 19th Century style children’s playground- Space to tell the stories of the Wiradjuri people, perhaps a tree carved artwork- A natural rock garden using historically and geologically significant rocks.-
Make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity to complete a vital and vibrant ‘heart’ and focus in Bathurst.
- There should be provision for small scale entertainment put on at weekends during summer holidays (preferably free or a small charge) and should be held at night time to enhance the use of the square.
- The TAFE building could be converted into multiple studio spaces to be rented out the artists and craftspeople of the local district. These studios should be open to the public so they can see artists at work and purchase works.
- The Bathurst District Historical Society is not adverse to the commercial use of the TAFE building, providing it is sympathetic to the buildings important heritage values.
- Renovate Headmaster’s Cottage for use by AFMM. The TAFE building needs sympathetic restoration – would lend itself to a mixture of cafes and retail spaces. Retain hall for public events.
- The whole Square as a fabulous heritage precinct with the ‘Wow Factor’ and full of life.
- The Town Square would benefit from having an electronic poster board for Council to communicate public announcements and upcoming events to the local community.
- The centre of the Square opened up with access to all – like a European town square with a ‘café culture.’
- Reuse the Telstra buildings as art gallery/arts centre so public art can be displayed on the large walls, eg film festivals. Reuse the Anglican Deanery as a kiosk or tourism hub.
- A high tech playground.
- A wholistic audio system be permanently put in place to support atmosphere development from buskers, concerts, street performers and passive instrumental music.
- A water feature using recycled water could be utilised to create an area to relax. The feature could be used as a centre piece for either comfortable day time eating areas or somewhere to create a relaxing atmosphere for patrons at a nice restaurant.
- The Square should be developed to keep an interest in the site by bringing public facilities into it: shops, food, things to attract…with more shelter. A modern approach with strong links to the past.
- For it to be a tourist destination spot. The TAFE building could be partly used to house Bathurst Museum and permanent and temporary exhibitions. Open up the laneways and provide a café atmosphere.
- Centre for teenagers fun with indoor climbing centre, arts workshops etc.
- We need a super rad sound system.
- Open laneways, more pedestrian access, fewer carparks, maybe some art work, plants, places to sit.
- Definitely would be lovely to see some ‘green space,’ areas for art to be exhibited and possibly a live music space. Like the idea of more alfresco dining.
- Rooms for community groups to use. Place for markets, buskers etc…perhaps a big chess set and hopscotch marked on paved area.
- Perhaps the old TAFE building could be used by Council.
- Make into offices, cafes, coffee shops etc like the QVB in Sydney.
- The Town Square be returned to Bathurst as a large, open area dedicated to passive recreation and surrounded by cafes, bars and quality retail shops, maybe including art galleries and craft shops. The area could become the focus of events in Bathurst such as the Winter Festival.
- For the Town Square is that of a vibrant, intimate city centre in a historically and architecturally interesting setting. With Green spaces, tree, sunlight, cafes in cosy sunlit corners and shaded summer places, elegant tree lined walkways/laneways/breezeways that link the out areas and streets. Where significant heritage buildings have been retained and adapted for re-use and new buildings have been designed to fit within their historic/heritage surrounds in scale, design and materials and where vehicular access is restricted and car parking is underground or outside the Square.
- Gradually the CBD will fill certainly not yet but high rise say 5-6 stories has to come into play soon as well. We have struggled to attract major lease holders like Myer or David Jones and that needs to be something to enhance our shopping precinct.
- Retain and enhance the historical building streetscape in Howick, William and George Street. Retain the facade of the TAFE building then redevelop the site as a boutique hotel, restaurants and retail area.
- The following suggestions for a child friendly community in the Town Square include: Edible gardens, accessible child friendly play spaces, seating areas with tables and chairs, shelter, accessible pathways that are linked to other areas, public art and sculpture, Aboriginal cultural designs, access to the arts and museums for everyone through displays, performances and workshops, close lanes/streets to traffic.
- Bathurst is one of perhaps only two cities in Australia to have developed around an identifiable public square and Council is to be congratulated on recognising its significance through its support of the successful submission to have it recognised formally by the NSW Geographical Names Board in 2010. The challenge, now, is to find ways of ensuring that this space becomes an active cultural, community and commercial heart of the city by providing a focus for daily activities, enjoyment and for appropriate public celebrations, performance and entertainment.
- Open back walkways so that residents are able to enjoy walking between buildings in the ‘Town Square’ area. Remove present fences. Install market stands and cafes.
- Dedicate or gift a section to the local Aboriginal elders.
- Make sure historic items and history is valued and promoted.
- Keep and maintain all the historic buildings and facades.
- Utilise Headmaster’s Cottage as an education centre for the AFMM. Develop old TAFE building as Bathurst District Historical Society use modern displays technology (interactive/3D/ holograph).
- To house vintage garments as displayed at BMEC in May by the Bead and Winecraft Guild and Bathurst District Historical Society.
- The TAFE site is such an integral part of Bathurst City Centre, to house our historic items is a must.
- There is a need for a venue that provides a focussed and comprehensive chronological or thematic narrative of the Bathurst Region’s historical development from pre-settlement times through to the present, and indeed, into the future. What better site for such a venue than somewhere in the Town Square.
- The Headmaster’s Residence lends itself to provide the extra space needed by the adjacent AFMM notably for public education programs, public forums, catering facilities and storage.
- The TAFE Building should become a museum dedicated to the history of Bathurst, from Wiradjuri time to the present day and beyond.
- The TAFE building could be devoted to the store of valuable documents, particularly video in its most current and useful formats…A small theatrette with large video screen, readily available to the general public and tourists to easily view the wealth of visual resources.
- The AFMM should be promoted and established as a bigger and better tourist attraction and a bigger and better museum.
- Could the TAFE building house the entire photographic collection as per ‘Snapshots in Time.
- The museum buildings and its precinct as a learnscape, an environment in which passive and active learning takes places and which can be adapted or engineered to facilitate this learning. For this learnscape to function optimally, be it called an interpretive centre the space could be…provided by adapting what is presently the temporary exhibition gallery…Include kitchen/catering facilities for functions which could be held in the AFMM or the Headmaster’s Cottage.
- An interactive science park in the AFMM precinct…that some or all of it is covered so it can be used in all weather. This area should also have picnic tables.
- Brick appreciation society formed and housed here. A flow on maybe from Graham Lupp’s work on architects and builders. A permanent display of this, map and buildings…Not a coffee culture please, but a learning and teaching one.
- Convert the Headmaster’s Cottage into an education centre linked to the museum. Maintain some parking for the museum. Expand the museum to encompass interactive material to enhance the experience for visitors.
- Proposed use of the Headmaster’s Cottage for AFMM expansion, including main entrance, gift shop, education area, office area and facilities, proposed new underground storage for AFMM and other BRC artefacts. Public toilets constructed behind Headmaster’s Cottage. Suggested use of at least one floor of the TAFE building for use by the Bathurst District Historical Society.
- Think about enhancing the historical and the AFMM and maximising the tourist potential. Attractive spaces, easier several hour parking, built spaces for activities may produce better long term results for Bathurst than crowding the space with new commercial buildings.
- The TAFE building offers the opportunity to be reinstated as an ‘educational facility’ by making it the site for a Heritage/Cultural Hub. Such a centre would tell the rich story of Bathurst’s history and heritage and act as a hub for all the other museums and heritage sites of built, cultural and natural environment significance.
- Make the Headmaster’s Cottage an education centre.
- The Headmaster’s Cottage be renovated for use of the AFMM to resolve some the problems with the current museum building. We propose that areas would be set aside for education purposes and storage, not just for specimens but also education material, temporary exhibition plinths and shop stock. The downstairs area of the Headmaster’s Cottage would suit a catering function with flexibility to serve school groups or more formal occasions.
- The TAFE building on William Street needs to become a mixed business venture: maybe apartments/offices upstairs, boutiques and services downstairs. A glass elevator on the outside – you’ll see the lovely 19th Century brickwork but be modern as well. The Old School Masters cottage: a café and education centre for the AFMM.
- Demolish Scout Hall, Telstra Building and Anglican House to open up Square.
- Every effort should be made to demolish the ugliest building in Bathurst, the Post Office and the Telstra Exchange behind it and relocate these services (Telstra Exchange to an industrial estate and the Post Office to one of the many new shopping complexes in the CBD) and make these buildings’ footprints a park connecting to the Square.
- Too many new blocks, ie 4. Better to have 3 new block configured to allow the centre of the space (left after returning the original TAFE footprint) to be kept open, inner spaciousness for public rest and congregating. Maybe the centre area could be called “Foundation Park” or “Foundation Stone Park’ in that it would be in close proximity to the foundation stones of the TAFE.
- The Town Square is one composed of our precious historic buildings, the stories that are part of that precinct and the open areas and walkways that encourages dense public use and enjoyment…this does not include the physical and visual impairment of modern 4 storied apartments or commercial offices.
- If we are serious about a Town Square we should be looking to increase not decrease the open spaces and green public areas. The existing square has over 50% open space and this % needs to be applied to the TAFE precinct as well if a coherent Town Square is to have any integrity going forward. The Square will become an historical mapping exercise rather than a contemporary reality.
- There exists at the moment a perfect opportunity to create an intimate open space ideal for small gatherings…There should be no additional buildings being put up to replace those buildings that are proposed to be demolished.
- Partial integration of King’s Parade with the rest of the Town Square by closing one end of Church Street. This could allow for creation of a pedestrian area in part of the street, so that people can cross over safe from traffic.
- A large underground carpark should be established with Church Street used as possible entry and exit points for the carpark. If a mass transport system was ever built in Bathurst, when the city was a lot bigger, an underground transport hub should be established under the Square.
- Eliminate traffic and parking apart from some dedicated disabled spots. Make all ‘lanes’ walk ways with sufficient cover to enable a walk in any weather through the precinct.
- All the recommendations in the CMP seem eminently reasonable… would like to see sympathetic restoration and preservation of the TAFE building and Headmaster’s Cottage and steps taken to facilitate pedestrian flow through the Town Square building.
- The Church land comprises All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Walshaw Hall, Diocesan and Cathedral Offices and Church Bar Facility, the Deanery and Scout Hall and includes by law a necessary amount of parking….The closure of Church Street to a pedestrian walkway would prevent the vital ministry of funerals, baptism, and weddings taking place.” A Wentzel – 97“A much needed display area could be part of the building constructed on the cleared area behind William Street TAFE and linked to the western side of the present AFMM….Development should start with the construction of basement car parking under the whole site at the rear of the TAFE site.
- No bulky square buildings.
- The 4 storey building will overshadow the laneways and create a negative feel for people using the lane. Even if well lit at night time, it will still give a foreboding impression and people will be reluctant to walk down it.
- This looks more like a ‘development plan’ than a ‘conservation plan.
- Whilst we recognise that funding for the development of the Town Square may need to be supported by adaptive re-use of existing sites such as the Post Office building or Telstra building, the current CMP goes too far in suggesting the possibility of four storey development with described footprints. Early suggestion of such options, in terms of scale, will tend to direct thinking towards commercial development opportunities and potentially make the CMP a development plan rather than a conservation plan.
- An undertaking of any commercial lands that go up for sale within this area (of the Square) would see it grow into the future and leave a legacy.