Thursday, February 11, 2016

The significance of Sirius

You may recall our postings on The Brown Couch on 21 November 2015 called 'Get serious about Sirius' and on 4 February 2016 called 'Endgame for Millers Point?'. In the latter article we noted that relocating displaced Millers Point residents to the Sirius Building remains an option for Government, should they choose to pursue it.

You may also recall that the Heritage Council of NSW spent the last quarter of 2015 considering the heritage value of the Sirius building. Well, they have just placed the minutes of its meeting on 2 December 2015 on the Internet. Its members unanimously made a series of recommendations to the Minister for Heritage for the listing of the Sirius Building.

Members noted the association with the Green Ban Movement. The Sirius Apartment Building is an embodiment of the outcome of the Green Bans in The Rocks which also led to the creation of the Heritage Act 1977 and the Heritage Council. They noted the aesthetic significance and rarity in social housing context of the Sirius Apartment Building and the unique circumstances associated with historic events that occurred in this particular place. They noted the site is a rare physical remnant as a purpose-built social housing project in The Rocks area, as other accommodation reused private housing. They discussed each criterion in detail and requested that the historical and association links to the Green Ban Movement be added to the rarity criteria.

Members reached a unanimous view that the item does meet the criteria at a state level, based on information provided by experts. They agreed to recommend the listing to the Minister for his decision. They resolved that the Heritage Council of NSW:

- Considers that the Sirius Building is of state significance, for its aesthetic and rarity values
- Advises the Minister that the Sirius Apartment Building is of state heritage significance
- Recommends that the Minister direct the listing of the Sirius Apartment Building on the State Heritage Register
- Directs the Heritage Division to work with the Owner to prepare site specific exemptions in accordance with the Heritage Act 1977, for future Heritage Council recommendation to the Minister

The Council has also suggested the building could be "sympathetically" modified for new and mixed uses, so the Sirius Building could be lost to the public housing portfolio, and Sydney's social mix diluted, even if a heritage listing is achieved.

The residents of Millers Point await the Minister's next move.

You can read the complete recommendations here (see Agenda Item 5.2 on pages 6, 7 and 16).

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