A Sydney developer has been fined $55,000 for illegally demolishing parts of a heritage-listed former sports club building in the CBD.
Standing between office blocks in Hunter Street, the six-storey New South Wales Sports Club was established in 1896, and became home to many of the state's sporting groups until it was closed in 2013.
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. Its Victorian-era facade and interior are both listed on the state heritage register.
Developer Alpha Nobis pleaded guilty to carrying out the building and demolition works without development consent between 2015 and 2017 and were ordered to pay the City of Sydney’s legal costs of $25,000.
According to council unauthorised construction and demolition works were undertaken to the interior and facade of the building, including the removal of skirting boards, cornices and a section of the ground-floor facade.
The columns, timber floors and a “clerestory lantern” — similar to a skylight — had also been removed.
The developer had also added aluminium windows, laid a concrete slab and installed particleboard flooring — none of which had been approved.
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.
“Buildings are given heritage listing to ensure they are protected and maintained for future generations,” Sydney 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.”
Earlier this year, the City of Sydney prosecuted builders Arcon Australia for illegal building and demolition works to the Nags Head Hotel on St John Road in Glebe.
The builder was fined $13,500 by the local court and ordered to pay the City of Sydney’s legal costs of $5,275.