Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What of the Hub ?

I'm not sure how it escaped the Mayor's attention, but last October, Marrickville Council thankfully rejected a development application to convert the Hub in Newtown to a 3 story combined retail and commercial premises. The full details, including plans, are on pages 303-323 of the Council Minutes (34MB - beware - and see comments below for download instructions). The text regarding the decision reads:

File Ref: DA200800185
Application to carry out alterations and additions to convert the Hub
theatre into retail space on the ground floor and two levels of open plan
commercial office space above. Four (4) submissions were received in
response to Council's notification of the proposal. A submission was
also received from RailCorp advising of certain matters, such as noise
and vibration and stray currents from railway operations, that should be
addressed in the assessment of the application. The proposed
development varies from the maximum floor space ratio prescribed
under Marrickville Local Environmental Plan 2001, and the applicant
has submitted an objection under State Environmental Planning Policy
No. 1 in support of the proposed variation. The proposed development
fails to provide car parking in accordance with Marrickville
Development Control Plan No. 19 – Parking Strategy. Council’s
Heritage and Urban Design Advisor does not support the proposed
development as the subject proposal equates to substantial demolition of
the existing building and will result in the loss of a significant social
icon, which is located in the centre of a key heritage precinct. The
application is recommended for refusal. The application is referred to
the Committee for determination due to the prominent location of the
site, the local significance of the theatre building and the excess gross
floor area proposed.

The Hub is now available for short term lease - presumably while a follow up DA is being prepared. Thanks to the anonymous tipster who pointed this out on the Newtown Eyesores post.

The Hub is a Newtown icon and deserves a better future than being chopped up and diced out like a piece of meat. Hopefully the owners can come up with better plans than that.

What should become of the Hub ? Is there room in Newtown for another live music venue, so close to the Enmore and Factory ? Do we bring back the skin flicks ? Is an ice-skating rink the answer ? A permanent artisan's market ? Are there any proposed short term uses ?

Your thoughts please !


  1. kiddies' indoor play centre - Newtown certainly seems to have a significant potential client base that is cashed up and needs somewhere to go.

  2. Hate to say it, but Anon #1 is right. So avant garde, no? Maybe it can be filled with those punk stuffed toys they sell on at Ruben Rat.

  3. The link to the council minutes no longer works. What committee and what meeting was it, so I can find it? The council search engine... doesn't work.

  4. Shermozle - sorry - that must have been be a temporary file holder. It was harder than it should have been to find !

    then look for the Development and Environmental Services Committee from 8th October 2008, then the Business Paper. Most of the documents are a two step process to open.

    Let me know if you still have trouble.

  5. Ricardo GonzalezMay 9, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    Newtown needs a Latin Dancing club and the Hub would be the ideal venue. I can't see it taking too much work to convert from the current state.

    Ricky G.

  6. Another missed opportunity to re developed this eye sore. It's been languishing for more than ten years. Anything new must be better that what we've got at the moment. It's become a magnet for third rate graffiti artists, just about like the rest of Newtown. A couple of days ago some dimwits sprayed grafitti all over the post office, sand stone and all.

  7. Hi all,

    Im a interior design student and Im currently working on a project which involves different social issues such as homelessness. I have chosen to work with the hub and proposing the idea of creating a workshop centre for different social issues.

    The vision of this project is to bring people into the space and get involved in different issues in their ways. Like artist can come and exhibit their art work that might reflect on something they are concern about.

    I just want opinion of other people what they think of the idea.

  8. You asked for opinions, so be warned... but don't worry, my comment starts badly but becomes somewhat more constructive toward the end.

    So. I don't want to be mean, but I think a workshop centre for different social issues sounds like a place that no-one really wants to go to, doomed to scrape by on miniscule public grant applications whereby you have to follow up with another form that states what the outcome was; and when you inevitably write '120 people came, most of whom were friends or family of the artist, and nobody learnt anything' (except in a more positive and circumspect mode) your only salvation is that no-one reads the outcome reports from these things anyway.

    Perhaps I do want to be mean. Well no, I'd rather not because it's a good idea to do something socially useful with the Hub, and to attract a creative community, and to have an impact on social issues. I just think you're setting up the idea in the wrong way.

    First, it has to be an attractor. People have to want to go. Have live music, dance, art that just has to be good and provocative rather than necessarily overtly addressing a social issue. Craft markets, sure. Really good coffee. Whatever works. Don't overplan it; set up a structure that will attract things people want. No, I don't know how to do this.

    Then set up other systems that will ensure that new, unfunded, creative and worthwhile projects get space there. Set up the spaces so that they intersect, to bring people into useful collisions. Ensure that people are doing actual work in the space (not just exhibiting work done elsewhere), out in the open. People will come for one activity and be drawn into others.

    All of this is difficult to "design" up front. It has to be responsive, and co-designed by the people who use the space. Look up participatory design, there are good frameworks for doing this. The problem is that as a design student you're expected to come up with a polished, finished solution and that's not what a problem like this needs. Talk to your lecturers and explain that the usual presentation mode isn't going to work for the design problem you have. Suggest that you present a design framework with a set of example scenarios/outcomes instead of a single result. Ask them for their own ideas on how to approach this problem from a participatory design perspective. If they baulk, then they're part of the problem ^_^ Go somewhere else or rewrite your brief to fit in the constraints of what they know how to teach.

  9. I would love to see the Hub turned into a theatre again, showing movies like The Old Valhalla did. The Valhalla is much missed, and the Hub has been dormant as an entertainment venue for so long, it's a tradgedy.

    Why not make it so that you can see a double or triple feature with a drink and some lollies for a few bucks again? Movies could be a mix of Commercial Arthouse and Cult films. Make the front part of it a sweet cafe, hanging local artists work for perusal and sale.

    The Hub is central with good amounts of foot traffic, near a performing arts school. I am sure that it would get a good influx of bussiness and become a boon to the local film marking and arts indusrty to boot.

    It would fill an arts niche, and not be in competition with the big Megaplex Theatres.

    Lots of people want somewhere they can roll their Jaffas down the ailses and enjoy a more intimate cinema experience. It would be very Newtown! Wendy.

  10. this is fucking dume they should just simply re open its a wast of good space for no good reason they losed it coz it was to close to houses and shit fuck so are the half dosent pubs on king st. eather use it or luse it it should just be turned in to a draculs lolz yeah a dracules that would b cool it would give the newtown freecks jobs they could just come as them selft\ to work and im not beng sercastick they could have a theater show and diner just fucking do somthing with it othere ways squoters are gonna end up in there. its an excelent venue just sitting there turne it in ot a lub lolz with a bar may b people wold sop treating the townie like one I dont know just use it may b play colt films once a week anithing is better then its current state

  11. who the hell ownes it the counsel or a person??? dose any one know ???

  12. It should become a fresh food market...Fresh veggies, delis, delicious foods of all descriptions...food outlets, fresh juice stalls, organic farmers market, and maybe have performance space for schools and local thespians...the council should buy it and manage it.....c'mon Mckville Council...pull your finger out....it is an eyesore and does nothing but attract drunks and homeless people....it is disgusting....do something!

  13. Newtown is the centre of the inner-west's entertainment district, and The Hub could easily

    Who owns it? How much are they expecting as a lease? How about bringing in an established venue operator such as Century Venues (just an example - I haveno affiliation) to run it as a performance space?

  14. The Hub deserves more. The Hub can be more.
    Imagine a cultural institution full of art, installations, and performing artists. An independent multi-subcultural house to converge, partake and perform in. A voice to create and reverberate the vibe of Newtown, the beat of the Inner West. Sydney will listen.
    Will you be there when It comes? I will. I will do more.

  15. it could really function well as a cinema/town hall/concert venue/reception venue
    they could put big windows/ door which can open onto the plaza in front for Arts fairs-the indoor outdoor feel, n have black out curtains which can block out all the light such windows/doors would allow into the Hall if it is used for cinema or concerts/theatre.

  16. can we not reflect on the history of this site and create a space that is beneficial to newtown's artistic community and the sexiness? i would like to see the site being used to host performance art and visual arts exhibitions that respond to the site and then it should become a new venue for arts and live music!

  17. OK. it is going to happen. everybody relax! as one of the owners i hear you all. we hope to reopen very soon.2011/2012

  18. My particular fantasy is for the Hub to re-open as a very special arty-cabaret-highbrow-lowbrow theatre with a down-at-heel vibe. Like the Bouffes du Nord in Paris or Wilton's Music Hall in London - as a venue for alternative opera and music theatre (Pinchgut), theatre (Bell Shakespeare, Company B and as well as alternatives) plus cabaret, burlesque etc etc. A building like that in a location like that has somehow escaped the Sydney property speculation madness is an opportunity not to be missed!

  19. Hi,

    Is there any chance you could send me a copy of the Development Application/Minutes, as it says the link has expired.
    I would like to see the Plans as reference for a uni project.
    My email address is: biancaisgro@gmail.com.
    It would be greatly appreciated!

  20. We remember the Hub as a picture theatre back in the 50s and 60s.

  21. I may have an interested party, how do i get in contact with the owners. my contact is info@rushcutterentertainment.com