NSW government architect Abbie Galvin has come out in support of the iconic MLC Building in North Sydney amidst an ongoing campaign by urban conservationists to have it heritage listed so as to prevent the proposed demolition of the structure. Describing the building as historically important, Galvin said the improvement of the area could be achieved without resorting to demolition.

Considered one of the most important mid-century modernist buildings in Australia, the MLC Building on Miller Street was designed by Bates Smart and McCutcheon in 1954. At the time of its opening in 1957, it was the largest office building in Australia.

Last July, Investa had lodged a development application with North Sydney Council to demolish the block on Miller Street and build a 27-storey A-grade office building designed by Bates Smart on the 6,650-square-metre site to offer over 74,000 square metres of net lettable commercial space.

The proposed $560-million development, which is targeting significant environmental goals including being North Sydney’s first net zero commercial building, would contribute to public space as well as improve access to the planned Victoria Cross Metro station, according to the developers. The planned development is one of many buildings designed to transform North Sydney, with the local council looking to improve pedestrian links and create more public open spaces, particularly on Miller Street.

However, following objections raised by heritage conservationists, the Heritage Council of NSW had recommended a State Heritage Listing for the building. Meanwhile, Minister for Heritage, Don Harwin has forwarded the listing request to the Independent Planning Commission and a review is expected in three months.

Investa had expressed their opposition to the potential listing of the MLC Building on the State Heritage Register, referring to an earlier decision by the NSW heritage council in 2013 not to list the building in the register as it wasn’t of ‘significance to the state’. Citing the additional financial burden on the company, and having explored various options for upgrades, extensions and preservation, Investa said that redevelopment of the building remained the only viable option.

According to Investa, the proposed redevelopment of the MLC Building has the support of the local community, businesses and council.

Image source: Investa