Last night, the NSW Land & Environment Court overturned the highly contested decision not to include Sydney’s Brutalist icon, the Sirius building, on the state heritage register.
The decision comes after a long civic battle against last year’s ruling by NSW Heritage Minister, Mark Speakman, that the Sirius building was not a state-significant site.
Designed by architect Tao Goffers, the Sirius building has acted as social housing since the 1970s. Speakman’s decision to demolish the building to make way for 250 new apartments was met with passionate opposition from the likes of the Millers Point Action Group and the Save Our Sirius Foundation. Over $50,000 has been raised through crowd-funding by local residents alone, in a bid to save the building.
Despite far-reaching public opposition, the government has until now seemed intent on the decision to sell the land. Earlier this year, a cyclone-wire fence was erected around the site, following mass evictions of social housing residents from the Sirius building’s 79 units. The fence was a last-ditch effort to remove residents – such as the 90-year-old Myra Demetriou – who had refused to leave their homes.
Last night’s decision comes as a massive victory to those tenants, as well as to a large portion of the community who wished the building to remain standing.
However, the NSW Land & Environment Court’s decision is only a temporary coup for Sirius supporters. Although the Heritage Minister’s initial decision has been overturned for now, this most recent development does not secure the Sirius building a place on the NSW state heritage register.
The Minister, Mark Speakman, has been ordered to remake his original decision, which was initially justified with the claim that the addition of the building on the heritage register would place “undue financial hardship” on the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, which currently owns the Millers Point site.
Although the battle is not over, it seems that the Sirius building will remain standing for some time yet.