On 15 June, the Glebe Society made a further submission in relation to the Stage 1 DA for Bidura. That submission may be viewed on the Glebe Society’s website (see https://www.glebesociety.org.au/?p=11471). Our latest submission was in response to an amended DA lodged by the developer which took into account some, but by no means all, of the recommendations made by Council in its response to the original DA.

We noted that the comments and objections contained in our original submission dated 4 December 2015 had not, by and large, been addressed in the amended DA. Those comments and objections continue to apply to the amended DA. Incidentally, the original DA has now been referred to the Land and Environment Court following its ‘deemed refusal’ by Council. A hearing date has been set for September this year.

One matter that was not dealt with by our original submission was the possible retention and adaptive reuse of the Remand Centre. In our most recent submission, we said about this:

The Glebe Society has never previously taken the position that the Remand Centre is worthy of preservation. This view is no doubt coloured by the facts that:

  • Many members of the Management Committee of the Society were present in Glebe when the Remand Centre was built in 1980, and campaigned actively against its construction. They have not previously been moved by arguments that it has any aesthetic merits.
  • It never really served its principal purpose as a Remand Centre (as we predicted at the time), although it has served its secondary purpose as a Children’s Court. Some parts of the building, such as the gym and pool, do not seem to have ever been used for anything.
  • It is understood that several attempts to find alternative uses for the building, notably by universities, have failed.

However, it is clearly the case that the retention of the existing building and its adaptive reuse would be a desirable outcome, since:

  • Local residents would be spared the huge impacts of demolishing a substantial reinforced concrete building and the erection of multi-storey towers. They would not be overshadowed or overlooked to any greater extent than they now are.
  • The Remand Centre is not visible from Glebe Point Rd directly in front of Bidura, and only a small portion is visible when viewed from the left hand, or northern, side of the frontage.
  • The retention of the Remand Centre would, at one stroke, eliminate almost all impacts on local residents, and preserve the heritage and historic aspects of the original Bidura.

The Glebe Society has now been provided with a copy of the Assessment of Cultural Significance by Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd prepared at the request of Council and dated 18 May 2016. That document makes a cogent case for the retention of most of the Remand Centre (in particular its building envelope and auditorium/recreation hall) on the basis that it is a good, though not outstanding, example of ‘Late Brutalist’ architecture, and has historical and social significance on a local level. Whilst the Assessment contemplates that substantial demolition might occur, the auditorium/recreation hall are considered to be of high significance, and should be conserved.

The reputation of Clive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd as architects and heritage consultants is probably second to none in Australia, and it is certainly arguable that their conclusions should be taken into account in considering the amended Development Application.

We will keep members posted as this proposal unfolds over the coming months.

Bidura Auditorium (Source: Jenna Reed Burns, ‘Heritage Assessment Bidura Children's Court’, February 2016; http://brutalism.online/documents/BiduraChildrensCourtHeritageAssessment.pdf)
Bidura Auditorium (Source: Jenna Reed Burns, ‘Heritage Assessment Bidura Children’s Court’, February 2016; http://brutalism.online/documents/BiduraChildrensCourtHeritageAssessment.pdf)