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May 22, 2022

Lennox’s heritage shed saved

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‘Save Our Shed’ graffiti on the Lennox Shed recently. Photo Robyn Hargrave.

Ballina Council debated the future of Lennox Head’s shed of many names again at its last meeting, and this time the numbers came down in favour of protecting the historic structure.

Although most people agree the old picnic shed/pavilion/shelter isn’t a thing of beauty, it has come to symbolise a line in the sand between old and new Lennox, and has aroused strong emotions in both its attackers and defenders.

Councillors say they were bombarded by emails over the issue prior to their last meeting, with the majority urging the building to be retained.

Should it stay or should it go?

In a deposition before the meeting, Lennox Chamber of Commerce President Brad Pollard made a passionate speech urging the shed’s removal, saying the Lennox Village Vision needed to be completed as planned.

He said the pavilion ‘often smells, it’s limited, and it’s used far less than other open modern structures.’

Australia Day at the Lennox Beach Shed. Photo Robyn Hargrave.

Mr Pollard argued that the existing building was interfering with Lennox’s point of difference over other destinations, namely ‘the proximity to the ocean’, and that a more modern, airier structure would better suit Lennox’s future growth.

Speaking on behalf of the Lennox Head Heritage Committee, Robyn Hargrave reminded council that the shed was Lennox Head’s oldest public building, and was created as a result of community action commencing in the early 1940s.

A visitor drops in on surfing Santa at the #LovinLennox immersive scene, Lennox Shed, Christmas 2020. Photo David Lowe.

She said the building remained in demand as an all purpose weather shelter and gathering place for groups, takeaway lunches, holiday photos, meetings, bus tours, housie players and families, as well as becoming the ‘lunch shed’ for the Lennox Village Vision workers.

Ms Hargrave noted the strong social media response in defense of the shed.

She said in spite of criticism, there was more than enough ventilation in the existing shed, as it was exposed to weather from 270 degrees. Ms Hargrave said that solar operating or fixed panel skylights could be added, as well as art works about the heritage of the shed and the wider area.

Council convinced

Ballina Cr Kiri Dicker. Photo supplied.

After some debate, Cr Kiri Dicker’s motion to retain the Lennox Shed and make it part of the Lennox Village Vision Concept Plan was passed, with the support of all councillors except Cr Jeff Johnson and Cr Phillip Meehan. Cr Eva Ramsey was absent.

In a later interview with The Echo at the shed in question, Robin Hargrave said it was pleasing to see that councillors had listened to the community, saying there had been ‘a quiet groundswell of of people that had been really concerned about losing this facility, and the culture of what it means, to people in Lennox that have been here for a long time.’

‘It took two years, but it was very pleasing to see that the end result was a win for common sense.’

Robyn Hargrave outside the Lennox Shed. Photo David Lowe.

Ms Hargrave said that she believed the shed needed improvements (particularly the roof), but the underlying building remained sound after many years and modifications.

Heritage value?

Robyn Hargrave believes heritage is not just about beautiful buildings, but also the memories associated with structures, with the many names of the Lennox beach pavilion reflecting these different connections.

Ms Hargrave said her research indicated many businesses in Lennox Head supported the retention of the building, with promised opportunities for community engagement over the future of the shed and the surrounding park not being made available until it was almost too late, despite clear warnings of ‘pushback’ from the community over the issue.

So is this the final time the issue will be debated?

‘I think it was pretty conclusive this time,’ said Ms Hargrave, but she acknowledged the issue is unlikely to be settled before Lennox’s centenary year of 2022 is out, with new designs for that part of the Lennox Village Vision now needing to be prepared and approved.

The view from the Lennox Shed to the beach. Photo David Lowe.

As for the argument about the old shed being bad for business, and getting in the way of what makes Lennox special, Robyn Hargrave takes the opposite position.

She says the shed is a positive point of difference for Lennox Head, and a good springboard for visitors to local shops, especially in bad weather.

Ms Hargrave said she’s asked tour groups and businesses what they would do if the building was knocked down. ‘They said, we won’t come to Lennox any more.

‘It’s a drawcard!’ she says.

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