A bid to protect Glebe’s architectural past

A bid to protect Glebe’s architectural past

The City of Sydney is seeking to protect the historic Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre in Glebe following an independent heritage assessment.

Council has approved a planning proposal to heritage list the brutalist building at 357 Glebe Point Road and amend the development standards to provide for sympathetic development within the existing building as a local heritage item.

“Given the current risk of demolition, we are seeking urgent heritage protection of the building,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“The City does not have powers to list the site on the state heritage register, so we are calling on the Heritage Council to consider this.

“We continue to urge the Minister for Heritage to immediately place an interim heritage order on the building while its heritage significance is investigated.

“The NSW Government might be happy to sell off buildings of historical and heritage value to make way for developers, but we are going to keep fighting for their protection and maintenance. Buildings of significant architectural merit such as the Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre are a critical part of our city’s history and architectural heritage.”

Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre is a rare surviving example of a purpose-built remand centre and children’s courthouse on a site associated with juvenile justice and welfare since the early 20th century.

The former government site, which is now privately owned, is within the Glebe Point Road heritage conservation area. The site also features the state heritage-listed Victorian villa, Bidura House, designed by architect Edmund Blacket and built in 1857–1862.

Following a recommendation by the NSW Government’s Heritage Council, the City commissioned Robertson & Hindmarsh to conduct an independent heritage assessment of the Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre building. Completed in October 2017, the assessment found the building has local heritage significance for its historic associations, aesthetic, social, research and rarity value.

The assessment also found the building is potentially state significant and that is why the City is recommending reconsideration by the Heritage Council.

“Designed by the Government Architect in the 1970s and completed in 1983, Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre is a rare example of late 20th century architecture,” Director of City Planning Development and Transport, Graham Jahn said.

“The independent heritage assessment also found that Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre is capable of adaptation to many new uses. Changes could be made within the existing building while maintaining its heritage significance.”

The planning proposal will amend the height and floor space ratio standards for Bidura House and the former Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre building to reflect the existing buildings.

The planning proposal will be submitted to the Greater Sydney Commission requesting approval to place on public exhibition.

The City will also:

  • submit Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre to the Heritage Council as an item of environmental heritage of assessed state significance
  • request the centre be listed on the state heritage register and conserved under the Heritage Act
  • request that the Heritage Council recommend the Minister for Heritage place an interim heritage order on the building while its significance is investigated.

The National Trust of Australia and the Australian Institute of Architects have both recognised the Bidura Metropolitan Remand Centre’s heritage significance, but this does not offer the building any form of legal protection.

“Architecture less than 50 years old is at the greatest risk of demolition or being irrevocably altered, as their true cultural and aesthetic significance is yet to be widely recognised,” Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter President Andrew Nimmo said.

“The Australian Institute of Architects supports listing on the State Heritage Register of the former Bidura Children’s Court as a rare and fine example of late Brutalist architectural style.”

For media inquiries or images, contact Senior Media Advisor Angela Salt. Phone 0455 958 503 or email asalt@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, please contact Matthew Levinson on 0499 319 385 or mlevinson@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au