Architect who protected harbourside bush
Stuart’s long experience as a commercial architect was a boon to community groups who could not read complex architectural drawings. His ability and his generosity to explain them simply and clearly enabled lay people to understand the scope and consequence of proposed development.
In 1998, he helped found RASAD, a community group that replaced an earlier group advocating for appropriate development in the Lane Cove village. He served first as deputy convener and then convener until his death.
His philosophy that development should complement and improve the local built environment, sit easily in the natural world and provide real public benefit, informed a community. In big numbers, people spoke out against a series of inappropriate proposals, demanded change in others and refused to accept developers’ proposals that would have turned Lane Cove’s art deco village into concrete and steel.
Stuart’s concern for urban bushland and the natural world went back further. His first venture into bushland protection was prompted by news in 1970 that the local golf course wanted to double its size by annexing bushland, some of it at the bottom of his garden.
Community anger at the potential harm this would cause to local flora and fauna prompted a public meeting and the foundation of the Lane Cove Bushland and Conservation Society (LCB&CS) in March 1971. Stuart was a founding executive member and served as president (10 years) and secretary (12 years). He remained a member of the executive for the rest of his life.
Urban bushland was entering the spotlight and LCB&CS was a sign of the times. In the summer of 1971-72, Doug organised a large team of volunteers to survey the state of all Lane Cove’s bushland to identify sites suitable for regeneration. He drew maps of each site, checked ownership and created the first cohesive document the local council had ever had. This sparked an awareness of the value of local bushland and council responded to the call to maintain and protect it.
He never stopped working for protection, regeneration and best practice management of the local bushland resource. He also supported programs to educate the community, especially children, about the joy of bushwalking and nature observation. He was a contributor to at least one edition of Bushwalks Around Lane Cove, a guide that has had at least six new editions since its first publication in 1982.
Stuart was an executive member of the Lane Cove tunnel action group between 2000 and 2009 and council’s village advisory committee (2003). His contribution to the community was recognised by a citizenship award in 1997, Lane Cove Citizen of the Year in 2002 and a North Sydney community award in 2013.
Despite giving so much of his time to the community, his bedrock was his family. With Norma and three children, he travelled far and wide. When the children were young and money hard to come by, holidays were road trips camping and experiencing the challenge and beauty they found off the beaten track.
He taught his children to sail in the hope that they would share his passion, one he continued to indulge into his ninth decade. When his children left the nest, he and Norma continued the outdoor life, leading local bushwalks for the LCB&CS. He enjoyed walking tours in Europe and in 2009, in his late 70s he completed the Great Ocean Walk in southern Victoria.
Doug Stuart will be remembered for his integrity and the generosity with which he shared his time, energy and great expertise, not just with family and friends, but widely for the benefit of the community he loved.
He is survived by his wife, Norma, children Joanne, Tony and Michael, their partners and six grandchildren.
Douglas Stuart: 1932 – 2019