The NSW Government has announced it was selling a further 175 dwellings in Millers Point, “a diverse range of the new property types that will include loft-style apartments, individual strata apartments and a number of multiple dwelling blocks to be offered in one line.”
Already the government has sold most of the 19th-century terraces it had owned since resuming them more than one hundred years ago, forcing out most of the residents who called these places home. Now it has begun to sell the workers flats. So far, only Sirius has escaped. To see the rate at which the government is emptying out and selling properties in Millers Point, open Relocations_2016 and switch between the two pages of this map which shows occupied, vacant and sold properties in January and May 2016.
The government has been promoting the exceptional heritage value of the workers flats in Windmill Street, the highest level of heritage significance a property can achieve. The extreme conditions being placed on those who buy these flats contrast greatly with the neglect these properties suffered under government ownership. The heritage significance of these workers flats will be diminished if the last of those who were part of its maritime community are forced out.
The one positive note in this announcement is that omitted from this round of property sales is Sirius, the great iconic building that commemorates the 1970s Green Bans, that demonstrates the power of workers and a community coming together and having an influence on their environment.
Sirius was recommended unanimously for listing as a heritage item of state significance by the NSW Heritage Council. The recommendation was made to NSW Minister Speakman several months ago, but no announcement has been made. Is this an unusually long period to wait for an announcement? One criterion for rejecting a Heritage Council recommendation is that it could cause undue hardship to the owner of the property, but this would not apply as Sirius is owned by the government. Are there other criteria for rejecting a Heritage Council recommendation?
In July 2016 the Telegraph reported, ‘Sirius is dangerously close to the wrecking ball, with NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman yet to make a final decision on whether it will stay or go.’ Read the full story here.
Recently a Green Ban was announced for Bondi Pavilion. It is interesting that Green Bans are once more in the news just as Sirius and its residents face their greatest threat, and this important monument to the Green Bans could be lost. Is it time for a conversation about Green Bans, Sirius and saving the Millers Point community?
Downshire Street, Dawes Point (Charles Walton, early 1930s, SL NSW)
At the time this photo was taken, Flo lived in the house at the left of this photo and her brother is one of those reading the paper. Flo still lives in Millers Point, but the government has begun the process of forcing her to move: “Ted (Flo’s husband) was one of the first arrested, along with Jack Mundey, when the Green Bans and community action saved the area from the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority’s plan to demolish the buildings and scatter the people of The Rocks and Millers Point. It was not the first time the government had such a plan for the area, and not the last time. (For various reasons, the government has attempted to evict the community in the 1900s, the 1970s, 1989 and 2014.)”