By Brian Fuller, former convenor of the Heritage subcommittee, Bulletin 7/2023, September

The sign at the front fence of Bidura. (Image: Jude Paul)

Bidura, the heritage listed former home of architect Edmund Blacket on Glebe Point Road is now on offer for short term lease. There have been several Development Applications in respect of the entire property, which collectively have delayed any real action for necessary and appropriate repairs and maintenance.

The 2017 Concept Development Application (DA) was refused by the City of Sydney. The owners appealed to the Land and Environment Court, and the Court found in favour of the development to demolish the former Metropolitan Remand Centre (MRC) Building, whilst retaining Bidura House (based on its State Heritage Listing). In handing down the Court’s directions, Commissioner Dixon included a condition of approval for the House as follows:

  1. A Schedule of Conservation works for the Bidura House Group, including Bidura House, the annex and ballroom, supported by drawings and, where necessary, specifications, is to be prepared and implemented as part of any future development proposal that relates to the Bidura House Group. 
  2. The schedule is to be prepared in accordance with the recommendations of the Conservation Management Plan prepared for the site by GBA Heritage in September 2015 by a suitably qualified and experienced heritage consultant. 

This is not the same as ongoing repairs and maintenance prior to and during any subsequent DA processes.

Following the Court’s directions, the owner lodged a new DA in 2021, followed by an amended DA in early 2022. On each occasion, the documentation did include a schedule of works to the House, but it must be noted that the completion of significant internal works would be undertaken by any new owner in the context of that owner’s proposed usage. 

The DA is still awaiting approval by the City of Sydney.

In the meantime, the Heritage Council rests. The House waits … and waits.

A ‘FOR LEASE’ sign has recently appeared on the front fence. Given the state of the fence, one wonders whether the fence holds up the sign, or the sign holds up the fence!!

We understand from the Leasing Agent that the House (in total or in part) is available for a short-term lease (likely 6-12 months). In entering into a lease (even a short-term lease) the owner would be required to ensure the premises are in safe and habitable condition to satisfy occupational health and safety regulations. With the building occupied rather than vacant, the short-term nature of a proposed lease may hasten finalising the DA.