Knock ‘er down… no, wait

Filed under Heritage & Historical, Letters ~ by Editor on  6 Jun 2019

The future of Parramatta’s historic Roxy Theatre will be decided at an appeal hearing in the Land & Environment Court June 12 to 14, 2019.

The iconic Roxy Theatre in Parramatta, built in 1930, finds itself centre-stage in what will be Parramatta’s Civic heart, the proposed Civic Link – a pedestrian-only green belt connecting Parramatta Station to the river, inspired by Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas.

A Concept DA for an office tower that would destroy all but the upper part of the once 1,923-seat theatre’s auditorium was recommended for rejection by the Heritage Council of NSW and formally rejected by the Sydney West Central Planning Panel last September. (diagram attached)

The DA states, erroneously, that the auditorium would be fully restored and that the theatre’ s shell would be untouched. In fact all that will remain is the upper part (Dress Circle) of 587 seats, a token of less than a third of the theatre’s original capacity of 1,923 seats-and no stage or back-of-house facilities whatsoever. (diagram attached)

The Roxy Theatre Action Group urges Local and State Governments to offer incentives for the owner, K Capital Group, to give the Roxy back to the people of Parramatta.

In such a prime location, the Roxy is ideally positioned to be fully restored to its original grandeur, and to become Parramatta’s very own Opera House, capable of staging blockbuster musicals and live events of any kind.

A stunning heritage theatre, fully restored and used for its original purpose, as opposed to “adaptive re-use," is the ultimate outcome for such a significant and iconic building as The Roxy.

Such an outcome will only remain a possibility if the rejection of the DA is supported in its entirety by the Land & Environment Court. If not, this golden opportunity will be lost forever.

Melbourne has retained and fully restored all five comparable theatres as fully functional live venues—the Capitol re-opening as recently as June 2019.

Sydney, our Premier city, has demolished the Regent and the Plaza (although the shell remains) and restored the State and Capitol.

Robert Fox

President, The Roxy Lyric Theatre Action Group

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