A piece of Benalla history — that had stood for more than a century — has been demolished because it ‘‘was obstructing the view of the Catholic church’’ according to Benalla Rural City Mayor Don Firth.
The shelter shed, from World War I, will be replaced with a car park.
Nigel Bowen, who has lived here for 55 years, said he was devastated by the destruction and is convinced there has been skulduggery.
A ‘‘shocked and saddened’’ Mr Bowen said the demolition team struck in the early hours of Melbourne Cup Day last week.
The shed, which was built about 102 years ago, was located at the former Benalla 31 Primary School (now St Joseph’s) on Arundel St.
Mr Bowen said he believed the demolition was deliberately planned for Melbourne Cup Day when residents would not have heard the works being undertaken.
‘‘Is this a case of skulduggery, mismanagement or vandalism? I am not sure, but I am certain that I am saddened by the loss of another piece of local history,’’ Mr Bowen said.
‘‘I am sure that there are many of us, like me, that didn’t see the small notice on the fence indicating that this was to occur.
‘‘Otherwise there would have been some objections and I am sure that many would also feel that such a notification is insufficient.’’
Cr Firth said the correct process had been taken for a demolition, after an application to remove the shed was put forward to Benalla Rural City Council by St Joseph’s Primary School.
‘‘If there’s a (heritage-listing) overlay of any kind and there’s a demolition to happen or a structure to be built, they have to advertise the fact on the building’s fence for 14 days, and this one was up for longer than that,’’ Cr Firth said.
‘‘Taking everything into account the shelter shed was obstructing the view of the Catholic church.
‘‘It (The church) is arguably one of the best pieces of architecture in Benalla and you could only ever see it from right in front.
‘‘They’re putting a car park in front of the school (where the shed was).’’
Father Peter Taylor said the church had followed correct procedures through the Benalla Rural City Council.
‘‘The agreement was to demolish the shelter shed and provide more car park space,’’ Father Taylor said.
‘‘In the long-term the car park will be to the benefit of church and community.
‘‘This will ease traffic congestion in Arundel St. The church believes in safety for the elderly and disabled.’’