Residents fire up over proposed apartment block / heritage house development at Sutherland

A proposed development at Sutherland, incorporating a seven-storey apartment block and a heritage-listed house, has met strong objections from local residents.

The house, which was built about 1917 and named Wallales, would be dwarfed by the apartment block alongside at the corner of Flora Street and Auburn Street.

An architectural firm, which leases the house, is among those who have made submissions opposing the development application (DA).

Prominent Sutherland Shire developer, Sammut Developments, acquired four properties at 110-116 Flora Street and plans to demolish three of the houses to build 46 apartments and a swimming pool, with two basement levels of parking.

The heritage-listed house would be renovated and extended to become the forty-seventh dwelling.

Construction cost is estimated at $20 million.

The site is just a block from where a DA was lodged in June for a six-storey boarding house.

The area was rezoned for high-rise in the 2015 local environmental plan, but an extra height allowance is being sought for the apartment block development.

Sutherland Shire Council has long planned for Flora Street to be a major pedestrian corridor between Kirrawee and Sutherland Town Centre.

An Auburn Street resident said the development “will block out the sun, any daylight and and breezes we currently receive...the trees and wildlife will disappear”.

“We like where we live and don’t want to see Sutherland become a concrete jungle with an oversupply of units,” she wrote.

A similar objection was made by another Auburn Street resident, who wrote, “I am against losing any of the wildlife such as the beautiful lorikeets, cockatoos and possums that reside within the area”.

Several residents complained about only two weeks being allowed for submissions, and not seeing the DA notice until a few days before the deadline.

‘One resident, who called the council to ask for an extension and spoke to a female staff member, wrote, “When I said I was calling to ask about a DA, she sighed and said ‘oh yeah’, in a very bored way, which basically set the tone for the interaction that followed”.

“When I explained the very shortened period of community consultation for this DA, she made no inquiries at all about the details, and just said ‘well you’ve got the weekend’, which did not answer my objection in the least.”

Residents raised a range of objections, including non-compliance with height requirements, overshadowing and being “out of character” with surrounding three and four storey unit blocks.

A statement of environmental effects in the DA said the proposed development “has been sensitively designed in terms of scale, proportions, composition and materiality to integrate with the existing and future desired character of the area”. 

“The proposed development introduces a modern yet contextually responsive building form that will contribute to the provision of high quality building stock within the locality, while also minimising environmental impacts.

“Further, the proposed residential flat building respects the adjoining heritage dwelling being incorporated into the broader development.

“Ultimately, this locally significant item will be preserved in conjunction with the proposed development, which will allow for its ongoing conservation and continued contribution to the Flora Street streetscape.

“The heritage listed dwelling will be generally retained as existing, with some minor alterations and additions proposed to ensure the ongoing functionality of the dwelling and upkeep of the heritage item.”

The DA document said “the need to conserve the heritage item has guided the design process”.

“An informal meeting was held at council, where various schemes were presented and discussed,” it said.

“The discussions and advice given (particularly regarding the heritage item) have informed this proposal.”

The development would require removal of 31 trees across the site.

Replacement plantings would comprise “tree shrubs and ground covers as part of the final landscape works”.

A statement from a heritage consultant, recommending approval, said the land was originally part of 62 acres granted to Thomas Holt by Crown Grant in 1862.

The house known as Wallales at 116 Flora Street, was thought to have been built about 1917 by William Evans, a grocer from Newtown, and his wife Emma Elizabeth Evans.

“The building has not undergone extensive alterations over time, but a new garage was added in the mid 20th century,” the heritage statement said.

”A DA for proposed use of the house as an office for Wesley Home Care was approved in 2002.

“The building is still in use as offices today, occupied by Business Artisan Accountants.”

The statement said the proposed development “has been designed in a contemporary architectural style and will be read in the context of other later three and four storey development along Flora Street”.

“The proposed setbacks will ensure the impact of its bulk and scale on the heritage item is minimised,”the document said.

“The proposed amalgamation of the lots will be in keeping with the development patterns of the day and will ensure the visual setting of the heritage item is retained.

“Modifications to the heritage item will not alter the primary building form or single storey character as seen from Flora Street as the modifications are confined to the interior and the rear.

“The retention and conservation of the existing building, even with the proposed alterations, enables the heritage significance of the item to be appreciated from the public domain.”

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