By LYDIA WATSON-MOORE
The campaign to save the Alexandria Hotel has scored a victory after the City of Sydney placed an interim heritage order on the iconic site.
The decision came following more than a month of community outcry over a proposal to demolish the hotel and replace it with apartments and commercial space.
Coordinator of the ‘Save the Alex’ campaign Ben Noblet told City Hub he was “absolutely thrilled” with the council’s decision.
“We’re so grateful to the council and councillors, particularly Irene Doutney, Christine Forster and Linda Scott, who supported our submissions,” Mr Noblet said.
Labor Councillor Linda Scott told City Hub that she was “very happy” to see the council acknowledging the community’s wishes.
“The Alexandria Hotel is an important community hub in Sydney and it’s great to see the community coming together to fight for it,” Clr Scott said.
The interim heritage order, applied on July 28, will lapse in six months unless the council “resolves to heritage list the building”.
A council spokesperson told City Hub that the temporary heritage order will “allow the City to investigate the heritage significance” of the pub.
The current hotel is 81 years old and is historically significant through its connection to Sydney’s blue-collar history and the industrial hub of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops.
Federal MP for Heffron Ron Hoenig wrote to City of Sydney councillors urging for the heritage order and had encouraged resident action.
“I encourage council to stay true to community sentiment and I urge local residents to remain vigilant in the fight to save the Alexandria Hotel,” he said.
Both Mr Noblet and other campaign head Alex Robinson said they thought the developer, Centennial Property Group, would likely appeal the heritage order.
The order came just days after Centennial Property Group took the ‘deemed refused’ DA to the Land and Environment Court.
This legal technicality, as seen in the recent Alice Street Newtown DA, allows developers to bypass council if the council does not decide the matter within 40 days.
When approached for comment on both the bypass and heritage order, a spokesperson for Centennial Property group told City Hub they would supply no comment, “as it is a matter before the courts”.
Mr Noblet said tthe residents were initially disappointed with the appeal to the court, but that it may have actually saved time.
“The developer would probably have appealed the decision anyway, if council had knocked it back,” he said.
However, Mr Robinson said there were still concerns with the move to bypass council.
“It sort of takes away the opportunity to have a public appeal against it,” he said.
While the heritage order is a small victory for the group, Mr Noblet said that the group would continue to push for permanent heritage status.
“We’re hopeful for permanent listing so that it makes development completely impossible. We want to it to operate as a hotel,” he said.
Mr Robinson said the group would continue to fight for the pub.
“There’s still a fair bit to do, but we just want people to get down to the Alex to celebrate this heritage order.”
“It’s the weirdest thing ever to celebrate, but we are!” he said.
The case will be addressed in court on August 18.