The National Capital Authority (NCA) has now approved the demolition of the award-winning Anzac Hall and the removal of 140 trees as part of the Australian War Memorial’s (AWM) “early works” program. The NCA public consultation process resulted in a record 601 submissions from the community, of which only 3 supported the redevelopment proposal in its current form.
In response to the decision, #HandsOffAnzacHall campaign spokesperson and former National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Clare Cousins said: “Australia’s regulatory framework has failed Australians at every step of this abomination of an ‘assessment’ process. Supposedly ‘independent’ decisionmakers have been shown to be nothing more than toothless tigers dancing to the tune of their political masters.
“Expert advice on the significant negative heritage impacts to the AWM from demolishing Anzac Hall, as well as widespread community opposition, have been equally ignored.
“The Environment Minister, the Parliamentary Public Works Committee and now the NCA have together created an abysmal precedent that endangers every other piece of public architecture in this country.”
Institute NCA Submission Summary
The NCA “Early Works” approval process publicly outlined that “the early works that form part of the application include demolition, excavation, services relocation, temporary hoarding and tree removal” and that the “bulk of the Redevelopment Project including the construction of new exhibition spaces, research and arrival facilities will form part of a future works approval application”.
It was not immediately clear that the “Early Works” proposal included the demolition of Anzac Hall. To fast track the demolition of Anzac Hall before the NCA has even assessed the consistency of the AWM Redevelopment Project with the National Capital Plan, and if the project should even proceed as designed is another of a long list of failures of due process related to the project. Key comments in the submission included:
The Memorial has legislative obligations for the protection and conservation of its heritage values for all Australians as does the NCA in the protection of the National Capital Plan. While the Institute fully supports the goal of enhancing the Memorial and better commemorating our servicemen and women, all we are asking is that it be done in the right way.
The Institute remains dismayed by failures of due process in seeking to demolish Anzac Hall. We are equally concerned about the consequences for other icons if the AWM, a preeminent national institution, is permitted to disregard its heritage obligations by the NCA.
The Institute does not believe that these “early works” should be allowed to proceed, and in addition, we note that it is completely inappropriate to consider the demolition of Anzac Hall separately from consideration of the Redevelopment Project as a whole.
It is not right and proper, or in line with the NCAs statutory duties to consider any aspect of the redevelopment including the current Works Application without reviewing or approving the entire Redevelopment Project.
The NCA must protect the National Capital Plan and withhold approval of the “early works” project. The $500 million Redevelopment Project must be assessed as a whole.
Action you can take to help save Anzac Hall
Time is quickly running out to stop approval being granted for the Australian War Memorial’s planned $498 million redevelopment, which includes the demolition of Anzac Hall, a young building and recipient of the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Architecture.
The Institute has launched a new campaign on social media inviting all Australians to show their support for Anzac Hall by sharing stories of their experiences with it.
It is easy to support the campaign with a quick social media post, like or share and we would love to have your support and for you to help spread the word across your social networks.