By EMILY CONTADOR-KELSALL
Contention continues to rise over the future of the Sirius Building as state government bodies and the local community are locked in an argument over heritage, development potential and revenue.
Architect Chris Bosse released plans for the Rocks building last week that included the addition of balconies onto Sirius, adapting its current design.
The plans were commissioned by Urban Taskforce who asked Mr Bosse to create “a new layer for Sirius that respects the original design while improving amenity”.
While the plans have been applauded, architect and chairman of the Millers Point, Dawes Point, The Rocks and Walsh Bay Resident Action Group, John McInerney, does not think the
plans “do justice to the quality of the building”, which has long stood as social housing.
“[If Sirius was heritage listed] I don’t think it would ever be allowed to be changed to the extent that Chris Bosse has shown it,” he said.
The state government has been gradually emptying the Sirius Building alongside many other social housing tenancies in Millers Point. Mr McInerney told City Hub that the government has continued to “move people out the extent that there are only about 15 left in the whole complex”.
The building is an example of the brutalist school of architecture and was built to rehouse public housing tenants who were moved out of The Rocks during its redevelopment in the 1960s and 70s.
The resident action group is fighting to have the Sirius building heritage listed, which would affect any potential changes and development of the site.
A spokesperson from the Office of Environment and Heritage said the National Trust of NSW nominated the Sirius Building for listing on the State Heritage Register.
“In mid July the Heritage Council formally notified their intention to consider listing the building,” the spokesperson said.
If the building were to be listed, any proposed changes, including Mr Bosse’s design, would need to follow the approval process and would be assessed on merit, according to the spokesperson.
Despite the office’s consideration of Sirius’ heritage status, the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) does not support the Sirius Building being listed on the State
Heritage Register, according to a statement provided to City Hub.
The FACS statement said the reason for this was missed opportunity for proceeds to build new social housing.
Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard also opposes the proposed heritage listing, according to the same statement, because of its impact on the revenue from the sale of the site.
“Any decision to put a heritage order on it would reduce the value of the building and of course the multi-million dollar views which the government wants to turn into multi-million dollars worth of public housing.” Mr Hazzard said.
But Mr McInerney said he disagreed “with the presumption, that [heritage listing] will reduce the value”.
“I don’t see how Brad Hazzard’s office, presumably his office or him… how they can come to that conclusion.”
Also against Sirius’ heritage listing was Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson, who said in a statement that the taskforce is concerned “that state heritage listing will simply freeze the current raw, brutal look of the building and minimise the amenity for future residents”.
Mr Bosse’s design under Urban taskforce “demonstrates that the building can become more friendly in its appearance while respecting the original design intention,” according to Mr Johnson.