Forward Boot Factory, Bondi

28 January 2014 .

The building was built by William Sidaway who began producing footwear in Bondi Junction in 1887. It was eventually acquired by the Bardon family who operated the factory until it closed in 1969. The Waverly Council acquired the property in 1984 and has undertaken structural works and repairs, spending more than $640,000 since 1995

 

Heritage Value

 

Waverley Council has listed it under the Waverley local Environment Plan 2012 as being of local significance, and it is also listed on the National Trust Register.  The building is of local significance due to the fact that it is a rare surviving local example of an early factory building. It is of architectural interest for its Late Victorian Free Classical styling. The building is considered to have historical architectural, aesthetic and streetscape significance. The integrity of the item is listed substantially intact and altered sympathetically.

 

Issues of Concern

 

At Waverley Council’s meeting of Tuesday 16 April 2013, a report was put to Council regarding the future of the Boot Factory site.  The report recommended, on advice from an independent consultant, that the vacant building be demolished in the interests of community safety. The independent expert advice is that:

 

“In summary, the Boot Factory building is in a structurally unsafe condition as the brick walls have continued to settle and rotate outwards and inwards, including increased cracking since installing temporary wall supports in recent years. Our $1,000,000 + estimate to repair the building, is not a rebuild nor modernisation, nor to make compliance with NCC 2013 BCAv1.

Sydney’s unprecedented rains and winds would continue to have a detrimental effect on the shell structure including continue to allow water to penetrate the structural timber floor beams including the already unsatisfactory foundations.

As it is not economically viable, and includes more structural bracing as time progresses, demolishing the Boot Factory building now will provide a safer adjacent community. “

 

In the light of this advice, Council made the decision to resolve to support the report’s recommendations at the meeting, which was again endorsed at an extraordinary Council meeting on 29 April 2013.

 

A DA seeking to dismantle the building is currently being prepared. Once the DA is lodged, it will be assessed against the provisions of the Waverley Local Environment Plan 2012 and Waverley Development Control Plan 2012. The application will also be assessed by an independent consultant given that it is an application by the Council and, as with all DAs, there will be a 28-day exhibition period when the community will be invited to comment.

 

The 120 year old building is much loved by the community and therefore this decision has led to a huge amount of concern.  According to Graham Quint from the National Trust it is the last 19th century building in Bondi Junction.

 

Council states on its website that it:

 

“recognises the historical significance of the site and its value, and formally resolved at its meeting on Tuesday 21 May 2013 that should the building be demolished, Council would:

 

  • save parts of the original building for future use
  • retain as much of the front courtyard as possible as open space
  • work with the local Historical Society and Library to preserve all existing photographs and other historical records of the building for exhibition.”

 

Council has been advised by its consultant engineers that because of the way the building is structured, it needs to be braced even if the building is dismantled following the DA process – as it seems it is not possible to either retain, repair or safely dismantle the building without the bracing in place. Bracing the building will also permit the preservation of building materials if the DA is approved.”

 

Recent Developments

 

A resident’s group has commissioned an engineer from Denis Bunt Consulting to prepare a second opinion on the structural soundness of the building. Dr Eric Smith has concluded that:

 

“There is insufficient evidence to declare the building is unsafe and requires demolition” and that “Remediation …. Is both practical and feasible”. 

 

Assessments as to how much it would cost to renovate the building vary substantially from several hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 Million.

 

For further information refer to Waverly Council’s website: http://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/building/current_projects/boot_factory.

 

Inheritance blog: http://inheritanceorg.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/old-boot-factory-skating-on-thin-ice/.

 

James Robertson’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald, November 28, 2013, ‘Report Shows Bondi Boot Factory not structurally unsound’:  http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/-2yaeb.html.

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