City News

Resident fights City over mural removal

Woolloomooloo resident James Argent is defying a council order to remove a mural from his McElhone Street property, and will most likely face legal action from the City of Sydney.

The artwork depicts Mr Argent’s dog, Colby, and was painted by local artist Marvin Stiel. But the council says Mr Argent did not have permission to commission the mural because the property is located in a heritage area.

Mr Argent, who works in the arts and events industry, said the time limit of his enforcement order expired on Monday. He is hoping a letter sent on his behalf by a senior advocate in the arts community, to the City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone, will convince the council to change its position.

He told City News he was not aware of the heritage conditions when he commissioned the mural, but said there was more to protecting heritage than just paint.

“There’s nothing racially offensive or inciting violence or sexually offensive about [the artwork],” he said.

“The fabric of the heritage is still maintained. Who knows where to start when they can tell you what colour to paint your house.”

Mr Argent now faces the prospect of being taken to court by the City to have the mural removed and a larger financial penalty imposed.

A City of Sydney spokesperson said planning laws do not allow consent to be given retrospectively.

“The City follows a common sense approach when dealing with street art and graffiti,” the spokesperson said.

“We recognise the potential artistic and social value of these art forms and seek to balance that with the community’s expectation that we protect our heritage.”

The Lord Mayor’s office confirmed a letter had been received from Mr Argent. The City did not confirm receipt of any other correspondence on his behalf.

A spokesperson for the City said Mr Argent had been asked to remove the mural in August and again in November, and that it aims to resolve the issue without imposing further penalties.

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