City News

Greens MP Slams NSW Government for Ignoring Heritage Site

BY LUCAS BAIRD

Prominent Sydney architect, Edmund Blacket, designed the Bidura house in 1857 when he was Head Architect at Sydney University. Photo: Clytemnestra

Greens MP for Balmain Jamie Parker has called on the state government to stop selling public land and buy the Bidura heritage site in Glebe to protect it from future developments.

This comes in the wake of a Land and Environment court case which saw a development appeal from Vision Land rejected because of Sydney’s height and proximity laws, not because of the proposed demolition of the heritage Bidura Children’s Court.

This prompted Mr Parker to call on the Minister for Finance and Property to buy the site back from Vision Land to protect it from “overdevelopment.”

“The government needs to realise that not only will it impose on the Bidura building but will demolish the former Children’s Court building which has significant value in the area,” he told City Hub.

The Bidura site was built in 1857 and was designed by prominent architect Edmund Blacket, the University Architect for Sydney University between 1854 and his death in 1883.

The NSW government purchased the property in 1920 and used it as an orphanage and school until 1977, when they built the Children’s Court behind the house. The government sold the Bidura Children’s Court earlier this year for $33 million.

“[The Bidura site’s] heritage value has been recognised not only by the City of Sydney, but also by a range of heritage groups that have seen it as a really important part of the area,” the member for Balmain said.

According to Mr Parker the government “should be protecting heritage sites like [Bidura], not ruining them with residential developments,” comparing the situation to the Minister for Environment’s decision to keep the Sirius building in Millers Point off the State Heritage List earlier this year.

Whilst Mr Parker is calling on the state government for action, residents like Allan Hogan of The Glebe Society have been left waiting until Vision Land submits another development application or sells the site to plan their next move.

Mr Hogan claims for the most part he believes the future of the Bidura site is in the hands of the Land and Environment Court and the City of Sydney council, and what they accept in terms of another application.

“At the moment we don’t know what they’re planning. We know what the Land and Environment Court said they can’t do, so presumably their new plans will have to deal with those constrictions.

“I’m not the court so I don’t know what decisions they’re going to make. But as the Glebe Society we certainly want to be sure that the heritage of the area is not ruined by a development that does not look after those concerns,” said Mr Hogan.

Development Director at Vision Land Nigel Fox said that the company wasn’t prepared to answer any questions regarding the possibilities of a future application at this time when asked by City Hub.