The future of the landmark MLC Building in North Sydney is in jeopardy, after the removal of its prized state heritage listing.
The Land and Environment Court has ordered the NSW Heritage Council to strip the Miller St building of its status, after finding a decision to rank the structure as a heritage item was “invalid”.
The judgement is the latest chapter in a long-running saga surrounding the site.
The MLC tower was built in 1957 and considered an architectural “triumph”. Image: SMH.
Plans by Investa Property Group to transform the tower into a $509 million, 27 storey skyscraper were halted last year after Special Minister of State Don Harwin directed the building be listed on the State Heritage Register, following a recommendation by the Independent Planning Commission.
In a nutshell, it meant any demolition work could not go ahead.
The developers took action in the Land and Environment Court arguing the decision was flawed because the minister failed to take into account two considerations: whether the listing would render the building unusable, and whether it would cause undue financial hardship.
Investa Property Group hope to transform the tower into a $509 million dollar, 27 storey skyscraper.
Handing down her judgment on Friday, Justice Sandra Duggan said the two considerations were legally required to be taken into account under the Heritage Act.
“By failing to take those matters into account the minister acted in breach of his obligations in a material way in connection with the making of the decision to direct the listing, and as such the decision of the minister to direct the listing of the MLC Building on the State Heritage Register was invalidly made,” Justice Duggan said.
She ordered the decision to list the MLC tower on the heritage register be set aside and ordered that the building be removed from the register.
The building was the first to incorporate a glass curtain wall facade system.
The 14-storey Bates Smart & McCutcheon-designed building was completed in August 1957 and was the first high-rise building on the lower north shore.
Ahead of its time, it was fully air conditioned and housed a 320-seat staff canteen, two Squash courts, a theatrette, car park and 23 lifts.