Sirius building sale could sound death knell for Sydney Harbour landmark
If developers decide to demolish the building a smaller block must replace it. (ABC News: Taryn Southcombe/David Spicer.)
The views of Sydney’s skyline from the Harbour Bridge could soon change forever, after the criteria for the redevelopment of the landmark Sirius social housing building in The Rocks was announced.
Developers who buy the brutalist concrete building will have the option of retaining the existing structure, but if they choose to demolish it they will have to build a smaller block in its place.
New South Wales Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said the height restriction on any new building would give Sydney back its views.
“The maximum height of any building would be restricted to the height of the Sydney Harbour Bridge deck,” Mr Roberts said.
“This height restriction will ensure any building approved on the site fits in with the character of the surrounding buildings.”
The social housing complex with priceless views of Sydney Harbour officially goes on sale today, despite a three-year campaign against the move.
The Government hopes to raise $100 million from the sale, which it would use to bankroll more social housing to help 60,000 people on the waiting list for homes.
Community Services Minister Pru Goward said the sale of other social housing in The Rocks and Millers Point had enabled hundreds of new social dwellings to be built.
“We have been able to build between four and five properties for every house we sold in Millers Point,” she said.
“We’ve been able to build some wonderful properties in Penrith and Blacktown and all over the suburban area.”
But critics have argued most of that social housing is being built in the suburbs of Sydney, pushing low income earners out of wealthier areas of the city.
Dispute over whether Sirius’s last tenant was forced out
Campaigners have also argued to keep the building, which was built in the 1970s for low income workers, for its social and heritage value.
The NSW Heritage Council recommended the building be preserved, but the State Government did not list it on the Heritage register.
Only one resident remains in the Sirius building, 91-year-old Myra Demetriou.
The legally-blind tenant has led the charge against the sale, but will move into new accommodation in nearby Pyrmont early next year.
While Ms Goward said Ms Demetriou was “very pleased” with her new accommodation, Shaun Carter from the Save Our Sirius Foundation said that was not true.
“Myra has been forced out,” he said.
“She has been systematically bullied by the department, she has had her hot water turned off for four days under the pretence of maintenance.”
Community Services Minister Pru Goward farewelled the last Sirius resident, Myra Demetriou. (ABC News: David Spicer)