Plans for a new crossing over the Hawkesbury River at Windsor have drawn criticism from the Australian Institute of Architects.

NSW chapter president Joe Agius says in its present form the scheme would have adverse impacts on Thompson Square.

“This is the oldest urban space in Australia and the last remaining space laid out by Governor Macquarie.”

Agius says the preferable option at Windsor is for a bypass, as advocated by local community groups for some years.

“The scheme proposed by Roads & Maritime Services has the benefit of reinstating the bridge approach on one side of the square and removing the unsympathetic diagonal road across the square.”

However, the AIA is concerned that in its present form the scheme does not address the civic value of Thompson Square.

“This is an opportunity to upgrade the amenity and design of the square from a heritage, landscape and pedestrian perspective,” Agius says.

“If the scheme proceeds the new bridge should be low and narrow and restricted to two lanes.

“The proposed roundabout on the opposite side of the river is over-engineered and unnecessary.”

Agius says that the State-level heritage protection held by Thompson Square for 30 years should alert all government agencies to minimise the negative impacts of any new work.

“The present scheme is the result of a failure of the process of government engagement with the community.

“Agencies need to look beyond their own narrow interests and consider the ways in which their projects impact on community values.

“Bypassing is an alternative option that has worked successfully for other historic precincts such as Berrima,” Agius says.