In an endorsement of the NSW Heritage Act as a measure of protection for our precious heritage, the Land and Environment Court has made clear that our heritage is not for sale.
In a victory for the residents of Miller’s Point, the Court held that the Minister’s decision not to list the building on the State Heritage Register for reasons of financial hardship was invalid and of no effect.
“The Sirius Apartment building has high social significance, resulting from the Green Ban movement in the 1970s that was protesting the wholesale redevelopment of the Rocks and Millers Point. The building indirectly has come to represent the Heritage Act itself, which also arose from the same circumstances and a renewed desire to protect our heritage”, said Trust President Clive Lucas.
The National Trust listed the Sirius Apartments on its own register in May 2014 as part of its efforts to protect the built and cultural heritage of Millers Point. In reading his judgement yesterday, Acting Justice Molesworth noted that “Following the receipt of a nomination from the National Trust of Australia (NSW), the Heritage Council gave notice on 15 July 2015, in accordance with s 33(1) of the Heritage Act, that it intended to consider whether or not to recommend to the Minister that he direct the listing of Sirius on the Register.”
On 5 February, 2015 the Sirius Apartments were gazetted as being recommended for Listing on the State Heritage Register. The decision of the Minister not to list the Sirius building on the state Heritage Register and allow it to be demolished (for a high rise building) shocked the National Trust, and was described by National Trust President Dr Lucas at the time as “the most recent in a series of decisions damaging Sydneysiders ‘sense of place”.
Yesterday’s judgement made clear that our heritage is worth maintaining – whatever the cost. The Court ruled that the cost of maintaining our heritage “might be enormous, never cease, and cause the owner to suffer financial hardship, but however onerous, any financial hardship would, arguably, never be considered to be ‘undue’.”
In other words, protecting our heritage may cost money, but it is worth it. Along with providing housing for all members of our community, the protection of our heritage for future generations is one of the hallmarks of a civilized society. The protection of the Sirius building embodies both of these causes.
The NSW National Trust is proud to have initiated the process for listing of the Sirius Apartments on the State Heritage Register, and will continue to advocate for the building’s protection.
Dr Clive Lucas, National Trust President