The iconic Sirius building in the inner-city Rocks area has been temporarily saved from being sold to private developers, after the Land and Environment Court ruled on July 24 that the NSW government’s decision to keep the building off the heritage list was invalid.
The famous brutalist-style Sirius was specially built for public housing tenants, following the successful Builders Labourers Federation Green Bans campaign of the 1970s.
The court ruled that former NSW heritage minister Mark Speakman did not properly consider the property's heritage significance in making his decision. This was despite a unanimous recommendation from the Heritage Council that the government protect the building.
The court ruling is a partial win for local residents, who had campaigned along with public housing tenants in nearby Millers Point, to save public housing properties in the inner-city from being sold.
Save Our Sirius chairperson Shaun Carter said: “This judgment effectively stops the gutting of the Heritage Act, which the minister sought to do. We are desperately short of social and affordable housing; let's now use it for what it was intended.”
The government claims that the building should be sold and demolished for a new private development, which would gain $70 million in revenue, allowing it to construct 240 new social housing units. However, there is no evidence that funds from sales of other inner-city public housing have been invested in new public housing projects.
The court decision will delay, not necessarily prevent, the state government from eventually selling the Sirius building. Carter called on the Premier to reconsider its future as the campaign to stop the sale continues.
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