55 Hampden Road
The first Princes of Wales Hotel was built on this site in 1843. Its demolition 1967 created community uproar. A highway was to be driven through half the houses in Arthur Circus and both Kelly Street and South Street and the proposed widening of Hampden Road would also have removed all the houses between Colville Street and Waterloo Crescent.
A number of old homes had already been demolished, including most of those in Montpelier Retreat, to make way for high-rise residential apartments. As part of this plan, the modern hotel was set back to the proposed new alignment in Kelly Street.
The community rallied in opposition through the Battery Point National Trust, the Battery Point Society and the Battery Point Progress Association. The involvement of militant unions such as the Builders’ Labourers’ Federation and Transport Workers’ Union resulted in a green ban on all large-scale developments in the area. The media fairly sizzled with vitriolic backlash through these years!
Over the next decade, attitudes prevailed in favour of preservation. In 1979, a progressive Battery Point Planning Scheme was introduced. It was only the second scheme in Australia which sought to introduce elements of building conservation or rehabilitation as opposed to redevelopment. The scheme specifically opposed road widening at the expense of residential properties and encouraged slowing down rather than increasing the traffic flow. The proposed population expansion was also rejected.
It was a lengthy, intense and bitter process which was ultimately responsible for the peaceful village charm of today’s Battery Point, so loved by locals and tourists alike.
Battery Point is older than central Paris … which was demolished in the 1850s and rebuilt. You wouldn’t think of bulldozing any houses in the middle of Paris! These buildings here in Battery Point are 200 years old, and in our lifetime, they will grow older by another 60 years. So it doesn’t take long for something to get really valuable and two centuries is a substantial time. …
Battery Point is the golden goose! You can pluck a few feathers and it doesn’t look much different. But if you keep plucking feathers out, there is no goose left – or a pretty ugly goose!
– Ian Broinowski Battery Point resident