A win for Pitt Street’s heritage

A row of Edwardian terrace buildings on Sydney's Pitt Street has been saved from demolition, following the National Trust's latest advocacy efforts to retain the historic shopfronts.

The design for a new tower located at 372-382 Pitt Street Sydney has been amended to retain the façade of the existing Edwardian Terraces. The original proposal planned for the complete demolition of the terraces, as they had no heritage protection and the developers saw no issue in their destruction.

The National Trust (NSW) completed an extensive submission outlining the benefits of retaining the terraces, drawing upon many local examples of successful historical building retention below high rise towers. We are happy to note that the amended design now retains the majority of the existing building façade, rather than continuing with the initial destructive approach.

What was the issue?

The original design for the tower completely eradicated the existing buildings. The Heritage Impact Statement for the proposal supported this decision, describing “The buildings have been heavily modified, are not rare or a good examples of their type” and specifying that alterations to the ground floor had reduced the significance of the buildings.

Terraces on Pitt Street have been saved from demolition.

However, as many of us know, just because a building isn’t in mint condition doesn’t mean it is not significant or valuable. The National Trust (NSW) recognised that the significance of a building is not completely eradicated by ground floor alterations, and saw the opportunity to promote the retention of these Terraces.

Our submission outlined the importance of the Edwardian Terraces in the interpretation of the historical commercial development of Pitt Street and the City of Sydney, and drew upon a number of similar examples for reference. Many beloved historical commercial precincts, such as King Street Newtown, Military Road Mosman and Oxford Street Darlinghurst, all feature terraces with modernised pedestrian shop fronts, and are not dismissed as ‘too modified’ to be valuable. It is more than appropriate to expect the same level of integrity when assessing the heritage value of the terraces along 372-382 Pitt Street.

National Trust (NSW) advocates the importance of adaptively reusing heritage places to ensure for their care and protection. The National Trust submission called for:
• Retention of the Terraces
• Appropriate adaptation of these terraces into the new design
• Reinstatement, maintenance, or refurbishment of the shopfronts as part of their integration into the new design.

What was the outcome?

Following the National Trust’s submission advocating for the retention of the Terraces, the proposal was redesigned to retain the façade of these terraces. The northern-most terrace is still proposed for demolition due to vehicular access reasons, however all other terraces are to be retained at a minimum of façade level.

What comes next?

The National Trust is supportive of the retention, but ultimately, more should be done than simple facades to maintain the historical integrity onsite. The National Trust is urging for greater depth retention, with all three stories of the existing buildings retained to the 6m depth, as proposed by The City of Sydney. We hope to see more outcomes that do not only promote facadism, but also further internal and structural integrity.

Further Information

If you would like to see the amended plans for yourself, please visit the City of Sydney Development Application D/2021/1504 to review the plans and reports. The amended plans are on exhibition until 08/08/22. We encourage you to make a submission on your thoughts about this new design.

 

Find out more about the National Trust (NSW)’s advocacy work.

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Jane Alexander

Author

Jane Alexander - M.ICOMOS

Jane Alexander, heritage advocate, archaeologist and built heritage specialist, is the Advocacy Manager at the National Trust (NSW).

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