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Sydney councillors were torn over the demolition of Bathurst House at a Council meeting last week.

The development application of the privately owned CBD building was brought to Council over questions of the site’s heritage.

The 1920s building is situated on the corner of Bathurst St and Castlereagh St and is presently used for retail and commercial purposes.

The demolition of the eight-storey painted masonry building could commence subject to certain requirements, specified in the DA amendments.

The work, which would make room for a 16-storey building, must protect the heritage of other buildings in the vicinity. The adjacent four-storey Metropolitan Fire Brigade Building is a Heritage Item and is currently used as NSW Fire Brigade Head Quarters.

Bathurst House itself is not listed by The Australian Heritage Council and it does not appear in any statutory heritage registers, including Sydney LEP 2005.

Key Sydney sites that are listed on The National Heritage List include the Sydney Opera House, Hyde Park Barracks and First Government House.

The development application takes into account exterior detailing to ensure minimal effect to the fire station on 211-217 Castlereagh St.

The plans state: “Detail of the east facade shall be continued around this corner to present an appropriate relationship to the adjoining heritage item.”

The Planning Convenor for the Glebe Society, Neil MacIndoe, said: “Heritage significance is more than just appearance. It can be archaeological, but it is more often cultural and social.”

The Women’s League of NSW rented a portion of Bathurst House between 1925 and 1929. This was bought to Council’s attention as a socially significant factor.

The subsequent report responded with: “Nothing in the remaining fabric attests to a historic significance of an association between The Women’s League of NSW and Bathurst House… Social and cultural heritage significance is important and can be interpreted in the proposed development.”

Councillor Doutney was one of two Councillors who voted against the development application being given consent without further amendments. “The city as I know it is disappearing before my eyes,” she said.

Along with Councillor Burgmann, Cr Doutney attempted to amend the motion in order to preserve our future CBD buildings with the following:

“That planning proposals to demolish any significant CBD buildings older than 50 years be brought to Council for consideration before detailed discussions to progress the proposal take place between Council planners and the developer(s).” The amendment failed to pass.

By Punam Vyas

  • richard thorpe

    I was at the meeting and raised the concerns to the Councillors. It appears that although torn, heritage cannot stand in the way of development.

    The development makes no sense environmentally and destroys heritage. Adapative re-use was not seriously considered, and engineers reports were so obviously biased to the developers who paid them.

    All I asked for was for an “independent” heritage report.

    That was too hard.

    Goodbye sydney, it was nice knowing you