The University of Queensland is trying to take down the one space it does not control at St Lucia. This is corporate theft from generations of students and staff. Students built the UQ Union Complex with their union fees and gave it a history that forms part of Queensland Heritage.
Here is a response from about Save the UQ Union Complex which comprises about 50 concerned students, alumni and staff:
“Staff and students of the University of Queensland have been regaled this week with an artist’s impression of the proposed new “hub” complex at St Lucia, being contested through the heritage listing process.
University management have published an outline of the plan that involves demolishing the long-time centre of student life built around the forum area, Schonell theatre, refectory and other student union buildings.
The plan is being opposed by a coalition of former and current staff and students and concerned community members. The group has applied for the precinct to be placed on the Queensland Heritage Register, arguing that the site warrants protection as a valuable Queensland cultural and historic place.
Chairperson of the Campaign to Save the UQ Union Complex, Jeff Rickertt, said today a preview of the planned complex was circulated this week to students and staff.
“This is a glossy prospectus that really lets the cat out of the bag on some aspects that had been foreshadowed earlier, and caused a lot of disquiet,” Dr Rickertt said.
“Firstly the university appears to be going for a total clearance of the site, leaving no vestiges of all that is valuable; secondly it affirms the university’s intention to commandeer much of the space for teaching and learning, which have never before intruded into the student hub area, and thirdly it sets up a marketing zone for entrepreneurial activity and service to industry, once again not activities ever before located in the student area.
Interview with Lee Duffield from Save UQ Union Complex
“The preview wilfully fails to explain why the site is subject to a heritage application and makes no acknowledgement of the architectural and historical significance of the precinct to the people of Queensland.
“It is astonishing that a university with more campus land than most of its peers and which touts itself as a global leader in creative problem-solving can’t seem to figure out a way to improve student facilities without destroying heritage of outstanding significance to the people of Queensland.
“They have adopted a crash-through approach reminiscent of the arrogance and stand-over tactics of the Bjelke Petersen era, the bad old days of the Bellevue, Cloudland and Her Majesty’s Theatre, when developers could destroy recognised heritage structures at will.
“Is UQ management actually attempting to bully the Heritage Council into submission?”
“The provocation will be a test for the integrity of the State’s heritage laws and its administration, and we have to ask: will Queensland be going back to those bad old days, or will heritage of State significance be respected and preserved?”
BACKGROUND: An application has been made for heritage listing of the student union complex based around the open-air forum on the University of Queensland St Lucia campus. It takes in the Schonell Theatre, the Union Building, Refectory, student services building and conference centre. The university management has moved on a redevelopment scheme to demolish this historically valuable centre, replacing it with a large complex used for different purposes – no longer to be student-run.
The State Department of Environment and Heritage is understood to be preparing a report and recommendation on the submission for protection of the centre, which is to go to the Heritage Council for a decision on whether to place it on the Queensland Heritage Register.
Please see the full Heritage application here: https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/land/heritage/register/applications#enter
Contact: Jeff Rickertt,
8 August 2019
Banner image: UQ Admin’s preview of new gateway to the University of Queensland re-imagined as a Student Hub.