Sirius heritage decision ruled invalid

The Land and Environment Court of New South Wales has ruled that the decision by the state government not to place the Sirius public housing complex on the State Heritage Register is invalid.

The verdict stated that the then Minister for Environment and Heritage, Mark Speakman, had not properly considered a recommendation by the heritage council to list it on the register.

Though the Sirius building remains unlisted, this ruling renders the existing decision invalid and the government has been ordered to remake a decision based on law. The case was brought to court by the Millers Point Community Association as part of the Save Our Sirius campaign group, chaired by immediate past NSW Chapter President, Shaun Carter.

Of the decision Shaun Carter said, “If not challenged, the Minister’s decision could have gutted the Heritage Act. An Act designed to lift factors like society and culture, above financial considerations when determining heritage. The win means a precedent has been created that strengthens the Heritage Act.”

“This was a win for Sirius, a win for the residents and local community, but as importantly, a win for all citizens of NSW. I am personally heartened by the incredible support of our architectural community. Your generosity in supporting our Court action, in turning up to rallies, tours and exhibitions has been nothing short of inspirational. This is the Institute and the membership at its finest, and I am very proud to have played a part in this glorious public advocacy. I sincerely thank you.”

NSW Chapter President Andrew Nimmo said “This was a wonderful example of crowd-funded community activism [that] the Australian Institute of Architects was proud to support.  It has raised the profile of architecture, architects and the Institute and that can only be good for our profession.”

The Sirius building, located at 38–50 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, was designed by Tao Gofers in the late 1970s for the Housing Commission. It was purpose built for social housing for families and older people, with level security lift access and built-in distress alarms.

Its design includes public spaces that encourage interaction between residents in its entrances, corridors and courtyards, and in its rooftop gardens and communal rooms. A combination of private and public spaces and a mix of different age groups have helped the residents of Sirius to form a strong and successful public housing community.

The full case verdict can be viewed here.

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