The former Our Lady of Mercy Convent in Clinton Street is regarded as one of the city’s heritage gems.
But a developer of an adjoining large apartment development has encroached on the building in breach of modified consent conditions issued in 2017.
It’s understood Nicolas Daoud reported the breach to the council and sought to remedy it through a further modification to the project lodged in August. The application also seeks to change the mix of apartments to 38 serviced types and 25 residential, and include a restaurant and three commercial spaces.
Councillors will consider this application at their meeting on Tuesday. While planners are recommending conditional approval, the council’s heritage adviser, Louise Thom does not support it
She described the former convent, chapel and entry garden as having high heritage value, a point also acknowledged in the developer’s conservation management plan for the site.
“These three components were considered to have the most heritage value and were subsequently retained when the rest of the site was approved for demolition,” Ms Thom wrote.
“The impact (of the encroachment) will be detrimental to the heritage significance,” she wrote.
The council in its original 2014 approval for the redevelopment allowed demolition of many of the site’s other buildings under a special clause in the Local Environmental Plan. The clause, relating to heritage conservation, was judged valid at the time, with planners saying it would result in overall positive outcome for the site and give the owner flexibility.
But a report to Tuesday’s meeting states the applicant moved the apartment building one metre west in recent time after discovering that the basement carpark’s location could disturb the convent’s footings and “zone of influence.”
Mr Daoud lodged the modified DA in August and on September 5, council planners asked that work cease because some aspects of the application had already started.
But the next day the parties reached a compromise “due to the advanced nature of works.” This left the building footprint as it was but reduced the obstruction of its veranda and roofline on the convent.
“It is considered that while the development is less desirable from a heritage perspective than that previously approved, design elements have been agreed to achieve an acceptable outcome whilst ensuring protection of the existing heritage,” planners’ report states.
These elements include landscaping next to the circular entry, changes to building material colours and paving along Clinton Street “to encourage a more active and attractive street frontage.”
Mayor Bob Kirk said the encroachment came to light after the building was well advanced.
“It’s not what was intended or what anyone wanted but now it can’t be ignored,” he said.
“We have to find a way to remedy the situation as best we can but clearly there has to be some price to pay.
“But we must be practical in finding a sensible solution given the advanced state of the building.”
Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6pm and is open to the public. It is also live-streamed through the council’s website.
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