Builders fined for illegal works to heritage building

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A construction company has been hit with a $55,000 fine by the Sydney Local Court and ordered to pay the City of Sydney’s legal costs of $25,000, after an investigation found they destroyed several heritage items in a historic Sydney building.

Alpha Nobis FM Pty Limited pled guilty to carrying out works without development consent at the 131-year-old NSW Sports Club building on Hunter Street, Sydney.

The building’s interior and exterior are listed as a heritage item with state significance under the Sydney Local Environment Plan 2012. The charges relate to unauthorised building and demolition works to the interior and exterior of the building.

The building is considered a rare and outstanding example of a highly intact original commercial Victorian exterior of high quality design, particularly noted for its elaborate use of decoration.

In October 2016, officers from the City of Sydney conducted an inspection and identified the following unauthorised building works:

  • removal of all original ceilings, skirting boards, cornices, decorative plaster features and plaster wall surfaces throughout the entire building that were to be retained
  • removal of the ground floor shopfront at 14 Hunter Street
  • installation of steel framing to the ground floor shopfront at 10–12 Hunter Street with differences to the approved details
  • removal of two cast iron columns and the original steel beam in the basement that were to be retained
  • removal of the clerestory lantern above level 5 that was to be retained
  • removal of original pipework and replacement with unapproved surface mounted PVC pipes on the northern (Curtin Place) façade.
  • installation of unapproved windows in various locations with unapproved aluminium windows
  • removal of timber floors on ground floor and the installation of a concrete slab
  • installation of unapproved flooring sheets (‘yellow tongue’ particle board flooring system) on levels 1 to 6

Although the building is now being repaired, some important pieces of original fabric and evidence of traditional building techniques used by the original craftspeople have been lost forever.

The City served a stop work order on the owner of the site IEA Investments Pty Ltd. On 26 September 2017, IEA Investments filed two appeals to the Land and Environment Court against the order. The works took place between November 2015 and 17 October 2017.

“Buildings are given heritage listing to ensure they are protected and maintained for future generations,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“It’s important that the City pursue legal recourse when the destruction of our historic built form takes place, to serve a warning to developers that heritage protections should be taken seriously.”

In March, the City of Sydney prosecuted builders Arcon Australia (NSW) Pty Ltd for illegal building and demolition works to the Nags Head Hotel on St John Road, Glebe.

The builder pled guilty to the charges and was fined $13,500 by the local court and ordered to pay the City of Sydney’s legal costs of $5,275.

For media inquiries, contact Belinda Wallis. Phone 0467 810 160 or email bwallis@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Paul MacKay. Phone 0436 816 604 or email pmackay@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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