A century-old house in Vaucluse built for the Arnott biscuit family that was proposed for heritage listing has been demolished, prompting outrage from neighbours and Woollahra Council, Domain reports.
For decades, the mansion was owned by Greek Australian couple, John and Mary Andrews, until they sold it in 2013 for $15 million to Chinese-born King Fai Chu, a director of Great Wall International, and Xiaoyi Zhu.
They were able to knock down the house after an interim heritage order was revoked by state Liberal MP Don Harwin, paving the way for a contemporary 16-room mansion.
“Upon being told that the house was being pulled down, I raced up only to see the house being torn apart under the bulldozers,” Andrew Coroneo, who lives near the mansion in Vaucluse, tells The Greek Herald.
“I was dismayed to learn that the historic, heritage home of my friend and near neighbours Mr John and Mrs Mary Andrews had been destroyed, against all evidence that it should not have been permitted by the authorities involved.”
The Mediterranean-style residence on 1700 square metres was built for Henry Arnott by acclaimed architect, F. Glynn Gilling. It featured classic Gilling features such as an arched entry and windows, baroque parapet and a prominent chimney.
“It was truly a beautiful home, and obviously worthy of preservation as a representative, gracious “inter-war” family house, typical of the old Lower Vaucluse…” Mr Coroneo said.
In 2015, Woollahra Council originally approved the DA for a three-level house on the site after a heritage officer mistakenly approved its demolition. In December 2019, Minister Harwin issued an interim heritage order to offer council time to assess the home’s heritage value.
This order was extended a year later but a Heritage NSW spokeswoman told Domain it was revoked on May 31 after the owners commenced legal proceedings in the Land and Environment Court.
Weeks later, the house had been flattened.
“I hold the Council, the Minister or their advisers, or the Government itself responsible, or perhaps all of them,” Mr Coroneo said.
“Clearly, a “crime” and a loss to old Sydney, a creeping change, now so rampant in so many Sydney suburbs.”
In a statement, a spokesman for Heritage NSW said: “Council is disappointed with this outcome which follows 18 months of work to protect the building.”
“There is currently a review of the NSW Heritage Act underway. This outcome should be used as an opportunity to review the IHO process, and council staff have provided feedback as part of the review.”