The Bidura Children’s Court and Metropolitan Remand Centre, an iconic example of Brutalist architecture in Sydney, continues to be in the news, amid concerns about trespassers, building safety, and project delays.

Located in Glebe in Sydney’s inner west, the former courthouse was designed in the late 1970s in the Brutalist style by the NSW Government Architect’s Office. A multi-storey concrete structure that sits on a podium, the building served as a children’s court from 1983 until 2017.

Following its sale in 2014 along with the adjoining heritage-listed Bidura House buildings by the state government to Vision Land, both architects and heritage activists raised objections to the private developer’s plans to demolish the Brutalist building and construct residential apartments.

The sale of Bidura House was particularly a sore point, given the historical significance of the property. Built in 1860, this Victorian villa was home to architect Edmund Blacket, who had also designed it. The buildings were subsequently sold to the NSW Government, which turned the property into a children’s home. Bidura House was last restored in the 1980s and is currently in a state of disrepair.

The Sydney City Council, which rejected Vision Land’s first development application in 2015, sought heritage status for the courthouse building. The developer successfully appealed in the Land and Environment Court in 2018, with the court rejecting the Council’s argument about the building’s heritage significance, the impact on the State heritage-listed Bidura House buildings and the local heritage-listed Glebe Point Road Heritage Conservation Area as well as the proposal for adaptive reuse, which was considered economically unviable.

Vision Land’s $32-million redevelopment plans for 357 Glebe Point Road include demolition of the courthouse building, remediation, construction of a 7-storey residential building with 58 apartments, and 7 two-storey terrace houses, and conservation of the Bidura House buildings, which will be repaired and placed for sale as a single residence.

Vision Land’s new project at 357 Glebe Point Road

Vision Land’s new project at 357 Glebe Point Road seeks to create a sensitive new residential development (Artist’s impression courtesy Vision Land)

“Our design response seeks to knit sympathetically into the varied adjacent urban fabric, strengthening the existing streetscape along Avon Street, rejuvenating and activating Ferry Lane, and achieving a fine-grain response that is truly of its place. A combination of new terrace houses and residential apartments will enjoy high levels of amenity through open-plan living, quality finishes and harbour views,” Vision Land says.

Following public exhibition of the development plans and community consultation, the developer was granted deferred commencement approval in September 2023 subject to conditions being met and compliance ensured with the voluntary planning agreement within 24 months from the date of determination. This means Vision Land has until August 2025 to satisfy the deferred commencement terms.

However, locals say the children’s court building is facing a serious trespassing and vandalism problem. The Save Bidura community, which reported the state of the historic house and the courthouse to the City of Sydney earlier this year, said the properties were in “danger of demolition by neglect”, given the disrepair of the buildings, falling fences and broken windows combined with “escalating graffiti and kids playing on the roof”.

While Vision Land says they plan to begin conservation works at Bidura House next month, the courthouse building and its contents continue to attract the attention of vandals. The slow progress on the proposed redevelopment raises questions about whether the building’s adaptive reuse into residential apartments would have been a more practical solution given the ongoing housing crisis.

Image: Bidura Children’s Court | Photo source: