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The City of Sydney is set to review its policies on murals, street art and graffiti. The decision comes after controversy caused by the NSW Government and RailCorp proposal to build a City Relief Line. Had this been approved it would have resulted in the demolition of 39 Pine St, which has a mural pained on it.

The mural, named ‘Three Proud People,’ currently put forward for the
local heritage listing, is an image of the famous photo taken of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

As early as February there were concerns about the destruction of the artwork. Earlier in the year at Council, Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP spoke of the importance of street art and murals. She said: “The City has recently identified the ‘Three Proud People’ mural at Pine St,
Newtown for heritage listing as it meets the relevant criteria. This is the only mural currently identified for possible listing and the proposal is subject to a future LEP ammendment.

“There are no other murals included in the Sydney LEP Heritage Schedule, as none were identified as having historical significance through the city plan exhibition process or bought to the City’s
attention through other means, such as development assessment.”

During repeated meetings, Councillor Meredith Burgmann highlighted the
importance of protecting significant artwork. The time spent questioning the issue has been ongoing since February’s discussions. Dr Burgmann said: “Has any progress been made on investigating ways to protect significant public artworks of heritage significance as listed Local Heritage Items?”

Ms Moore claimed the issue has been taken into consideration and is still a work in progress. “The City Plan Development Unit has been investigating ways to protect significant public artworks in the City
Plan. This work will be reported back to Council.

“I share Councillor Burgmann’s concern to protect this important mural and have asked the CEO to finalise this report as soon as possible.”

The review will look at the ways in which to assess the commisioning and maintenance of street art and murals, in addition to managing unauthorised graffiti.

The policy will work toward Sustainable Sydney 2030 intiatives as it promotes the protection of heritage buildings. While the policy on the whole seems simple, it is complicated by the question of artwork on private property. Property owners might be set back by the costs of maintaining the artwork and desire to develop property may be compromised.The City Plan Development Unit review is charged with removing these grey areas.