Woolloomooloo Heritage Conservation Area | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Woolloomooloo Heritage Conservation Area

Item details

Name of item: Woolloomooloo Heritage Conservation Area
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Urban Area
Category: Other - Urban Area
Primary address: Refer To Map, Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney

Boundary:

Generally defined by Cowper Wharf Road to the north, McElhone Street, northern boundary of 70-104 McElhone Street, Brougham Street, northern, eastern south boundary of 30A - 34 Brougham St, Brougham Street, Butler Stairs, rear boundaries of 52-60 Brougham Street, Hourigan Lane, rear boundary of 90 to 108A Brougham Street southern boundary of 108a Brougham Street, Brougham Street, northern and eastern boundary of 120-130 Brougham Street, eastern and southern boundary of 132-138 Brougham Street, Brougham Street, northern and eastern boudnary of 232 William Street, William Street, McElhone Street, southern boundary of 250A McElhone Street, Dowling Street, southern boundary of 173 Dowling Street, Judge Lane, Forbes Street, William Lane and extension of this alignment to Palmer Street, Robinson Street, Crown Street, Sutton Street, McCarthy Place, Busby Lane and western boundary of 13-39 Riley Street, Haig Lane, Sir John Young Crescent and Lincoln Crescent.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Refer To MapWoolloomoolooSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

First settled by John Palmer in 1793, Woolloomooloo is significant as one of the earliest residential districts of Sydney. The rapid development of the area in the period 1850-1880 is demonstrated by the surviving rows of Victorian terracing of a modest scale and character. Remnant warehouses and hotels provide evidence of the port activities particularly in the early 20th century with the reorganisation of Cowper Wharf and the construction of the Finger Wharf.

The extensive redevelopment of the Woolloomooloo Basin by the Housing Commission of NSW in the 1970s is significant as it provided a new model for public housing based on the scale and form of Victorian development.
Date significance updated: 19 Nov 12
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Designer/Maker: Various
Builder/Maker: Various
Construction years: 1850-1980
Physical description: The Woolloomooloo Conservation Area is an irregularly shaped area generally defined by Cowper Wharf Road to the north, McElhone Street, northern boundary of 70-104 McELhone Street, Brougham Street, northern, eastern south boundary of 30A - 34 Brougham St, Brougham Street, Butler Stairs , rear boundaries of 52-60 Brougham Street, Hourigan Lane, rear boundary of 90 to 108A Brougham Street southern boundary of 108a Brougham Street, Brougham Street, northern and eastern boundary of 120-130 Brougham Street, eastern and southern boundary of 132-138 Brougham Street, Brougham Street, northern and eastern boudnary of 232 William Street, William Street, McElhone Street, southern boundary of 250A McElhone Street, Dowling Street, southern boundary of 173 Dowling Street, Judge Lane, Forbes Street, William Lane and extension of this alignment to Palmer Street, Robinson Street, Crown Street, Sutton Street, McCarthy Place, Busby Lane and western boundary of 13-39 Riley Street, Haig Lane, Sir John Young Crescent and Lincoln Crescent.

The land slopes from William Street to the Bay and there is a steep escarpment below Victoria Street offering views across to the CBD. The area is densely developed and incorporates one major park by Sydney Place and several pockets of open space resulting from the overlaying of the railway and tunnel access. The area is divided by Palmer Street, now a major traffic route.

The street pattern is essentially a grid layed out in the nineteenth century, however many secondary streets have been lost in the public housing redevelopment. The subdivision pattern has also been extensively eroded in the central part of the area. Pockets of Victorian (predominantly terrace houses) development survive throughout the area, concentrated on the periphery of the Conservation Area. There are also a number of hotels from the Victorian, Federation and Inter-war periods. Elsewhere late twentieth century public housing predominates, low scale in the centre of the area with multistorey developments along the Victoria Street escarpment. Remnant industrial developments mostly now commercial, recall port activities in the early twentieth century.

Street Ratings:
Bland Street: Mixed groups of small scale terraces, The Gunnery, Tilbury Hotel. Rating B
Bourke Street: Mixed, groups of 2 storey terraces, public housing, new residential, commercial. Rating B
Brougham Street: Mixed, terraces and public housing, Victorian to Post war period Rating A (south of Hills Stairs and Rowena Place) and C ( north of Hills Stairs and Rowena Place)
Corfu Street: Interesting single storey terrace. Rating B
Cathedral Street: 2-3 storey Victorian terrace Rating A
Cowper Wharf Road: 2-3 storey Victorian, Federation mixed use The Gunnery, Hotels, Public Housing, contemporary housing. Detracting Naval Parking Station, garages Rating A
Crown Street: Groups Victorian terraces and detracting development Crown Gardens Rating B
Forbes Street: Road closure, Victorian and Post - war public housing, Public School, detracting viaduct Rating A
Judge Street: 2 storey terraces, road closure . Rating A
Dowling Street: 2 storey contemporary, Federation Victorian residential, Hotels. Rating A
McElhone Street: Mixed , Victoiran terraces,post war housing, Day Nursery Rating B
Nesbitt Street: Side frontages: Rating B
Nicholson Street: 2 storey terraces, post war public housing, Tilbury Hotel, sub station. Rating B
Plunket Street: Post war public housing. Rating B
Reid Avenue: Day Nursery, vacant land Rating B
Ray Place: 2 storey Victoiran terraces Rating A
Riley Sreet - mixed, Victorian, Federation,Inter-war and infill development. Rating B
Rowena Place: 2 storey Victorian terraces Rating A
Sir John Young Crescent: side frontages, infill, detracting railway viaduct, Victorian Coffee Palace/terraces/ hotel Rating B
William Street: Federation and inter-war period buildings, infill Rating B
Wilson Street: Post war public housing. Rating B
Windeyer Street: 2 storey Victorian terraces . Rating A
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The condition of buildings is generally good.
Modifications and dates: Redevelopment for public housing 1975-1990s.
Further information: Boundary
The boundary of the Woollommooloo Conservation Area under LEP 2012 differs from its previous boundary under the previous instrument, South Sydney LEP 1998 in that it:
(a)excludes Victoria Street west which has been incorporated into the Potts Point Conservation Area;
(b)excludes the northern end of Brougham Street which comprises predominantly detracting buildings;
( c) includes the area bounded by Cathedral Street, Crown Street and Sir John Young Crescent that was covered by the Central Sydney LEP 2005; and
(d) includes 216 to 232 William Street

General:
Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Residential, Public Housing, Commercial
Former use: Residential, Industrial, Commercial

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the European invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

In the 1840s the name 'Woolloomooloo' was applied fairly indiscriminately to parts of East Sydney and Darlinghurst, as well as to the valley and the heights beyond. Part of the Woolloomooloo valley was originally granted to the Commissary General John Palmer in 1793 by Governor Grose. To the east, smaller parcels of land were granted to politically powerful men in the colony to build homes.

Palmer built Woolloomooloo House on his 100 acres in about 1801, and developed a reputation for entertaining. During the Rum Rebellion in 1808, Palmer aligned himself with Governor Bligh and consequently suffered commercial loss returning to England for a period to clear his name. While abroad, Palmer leased his land to Alexander Riley. Upon his return, in order to meet his debts, Palmer sold his Woolloomooloo Estate to Ann Riley, Edward Riley’s wife, in 1822. When Edward suicided in 1825, the Estate was tied up with two conflicting wills. The first division of the estate occurred in 1835. The seven beneficiaries of Riley’s Estate subdivided their properties from the 1840s. The first subdivision in the Woolloomooloo Basin occurred in 1842.

Development intensified with the gold rushes of the 1850 - 1860s. The area was significantly settled by the 1850s with a mixture of shops and residences, interspersed with fenced paddocks.

East of Forbes Street lay several estates that extended down the escarpment from Potts Point including E. Hallam’s grant, Judge Stephen’s grant and the Tusculum Estate. Judge James Dowling received an 8 acre land grant in 1831 bounded by William Street, Dowling Street and Victoria Street and built Brougham Lodge on his property. He allocated some of his grant for the formation of streets such as Victoria Street, Duke Street and McElhone Street. His estate was subdivided in 1846. Subdivision of A. Campbell’s Estate occurred in 1849 and included lots in Macleay, Victoria, Brougham and Forbes Street. Brougham Lodge was located on Victoria Street and was subdivided into 22 allotments.

The land at the end of Woolloomooloo Bay was largely composed of alluvial mud flats until 1863 when a sea wall was completed enabling the reclamation of land between present day Griffiths Street and the present waterline. The reclaimed land north of Griffiths Street was subdivided by the Crown and offered for sale in 1866.

By 1882, Woolloomooloo was one of the most popular and distinct divisions within the city. The streets were highly packed with modest worker’s cottages interspersed with a few earlier mansions. Post reclamation and the wharf construction also saw an unprecedented boom in the construction of hotels, brothels and other businesses in the district.

The Cowper Wharf at Woolloomooloo was subject to large scale reorganisation between 1905 and 1912 when the Finger Wharf was completed. Concurrently, a number of road widening and upgrading projects were commenced by the Sydney Municipal Council , which included the reconstruction of Cowper Wharf Road and one project which affected Duke Street, leading to the partial demolition of the buildings at the rear of the Frisco Hotel. The area underwent an intensification of maritime and shipping activities, and the pubs of Woolloomooloo played an important role in the social life of the area.

Social decline of the area was evident as early as the 1890s and continued through the first half of the twentieth century.

In 1968, a decision to prepare a comprehensive planning scheme for the whole of Sydney was made. An ‘intensive, integrated, multi-level development’ was proposed for Woolloomooloo. The road system was to be totally reorganised by removing lesser roads and amalgamating sites for large scale development. The port was to be redeveloped and residential buildings were to be restricted to the edge of the domain and on Victoria Street. The Woolloomooloo Redevelopment Central Plan was adopted in 1969.

Dissent in the local community grew and in 1972 the Woolloomooloo Resident Action Group was formed. This group suggested the acquisition of land in Woolloomooloo for medium density housing development as an alternative to the high density commercial development that was being approved. The resident group approached the Builders Labourers Federation to ban demolition. These protests were effective and in May 1974, the Minister announced that the Housing Commission would build medium density housing in Woolloomooloo.

In 1975, the Housing Commission began resuming property. Less than 7 acres were resumed, some terrace housing was restored and new dwellings were erected. By 1979, 68 dwellings were complete, with construction continuing through to the 1990s.

Woolloomooloo was first classified as a Conservation Area by the NSW National Trust on 27th October 1980.

The battle to save the finger wharf also continued into the 1990s, with the redevelopment of the wharf completed in 2000.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Residential-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Community facilities-
7. Governing-Governing Welfare-Activities and process associated with the provision of social services by the state or philanthropic organisations (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Woolloomooloo is one of the earliest residential districts of Sydney being first settled by John Palmer in 1793. The area grew rapidly after 1850. It is of historical importance in the growth of residential Sydney. Remnant warehouses and hotels provide evidence of the port activities particularly in the early 20th century with the reorganisation of Cowper Wharf and the construction of the Finger Wharf
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Associated with a number of prominent architects including George Leslie Grant, Ernest Lindsay Thompson, Copeman and Lemont, Spain and Cosh, Wilshire and Hodges, and Samuel Lipson and Peter Kaad.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Significant for its historic terraces of a modest scale as well as its surviving hotels, most of which are architect designed, and early 20th century industrial buildings. The area now possesses a new coherent townscape based on the scale and form of the nineteenth century terrace.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The resistance of the community to redevelopment proposals in the 1960s and 1970s demonstrates the high regard for the area. Some sites have significance for identifiable groups including Plunket Street Public School, St Columbkilie Church, Juanita Neilson Community Centre, Woolloomooloo Day Nursery and the existing hotels.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Modern social experiment. The scheme developed under the control of the Housing Commission of New South Wales and resulted from the unprecedented agreement between the Federal Government, the State Government and the Sydney City Council.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Representative of a Victorian inner city suburb with later development overlays in the Federation and inter-war periods, as well as in the post - war period particularly with its 1970s public housing.
Integrity/Intactness: The area has a low level of integrity due to extensive redevelopment in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS (Generic Conservation area policies) 1. Protection of Significance (a) Subdivision - Retain Victorian subdivision - Do not allow further amalgamation of sites (b) Key Period Significant (Contributory) Development: - Retain 1 Storey Workers Cottages - Retain 1-2 Storey Victorian / Federation terraces - Retain Victorian / Federation Public Buildings - Retain Victorian Federation / Inter-war Shops/Hotels - Retain small scale of early development - Maintain building alignment - Retain form - Retain finishes and details - Reinstate verandahs, front fences, lost detail - Additions to rear not to exceed ridge height and retain original roof form - Discourage front dormers (c) Other Significant Development: - Retain Public Housing of the Post War period. - Retain intact industrial development pre 1940s - Do not exceed scale - Limit redevelopment to existing volume 2. Redevelopment of Non Contributing Sites - Encourage reinterpretation of Victorian Subdivision - Respect scale and form of significant development - Respect building line of significant development - Encourage rendered and painted finishes - Encourage contemporary detail - Provide landscape screening - Limit carparking access from street 3. Enhance Significance of Area - Retain residential usage - Maintain and enhance street planting to unify streetscape - Encourage render/paint finishes to detracting developments - Interpret Victorian street pattern and subdivision - Enhance vistas - Provide landscape screening to detracting sites 4. FSR and Height Controls Controls to reflect desired future character of area. - Revise height controls to reflect scale of significant development and encourage retention of significant development. Maximum FSR along Victoria Street Escarpment 9 m. - Revise FSR controls to encourage retention of significant development. Maximum FSR south of Cathedral Street. - Maximum FSR for Conservation Area 1.5 : 1. - Groups 1-2 storey Victorian terraces should be protected by FSR 1 :1. (Crown Street, Bourke Street, McElhone Street, Brougham Street and Riley Street. 5. Boundary Adjustment - Review Conservation Area boundary in relation to RTA demolitions along Palmer Street. 6. Potential Heriage Items 224-226 William Street, Westminister Hall. Inter-war period flat building with intact ground floor shops. 7. Other Recommendations - Contributory buildings should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement should be prepared for contributory buildings prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to such buildings and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls. - Neutral and detracting buildings should where possible be enhanced. Replacement of such buildings should be in accordance with the infill provisions of the relevant planning controls.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012C7114 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes
South Sydney Conservation Areas2003 Architectural Projects P/L  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Subdivision Plans ZSP : Subdivision Plans ZSP : D2/4-158, W16/1-150
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenNSW Department of Lands Metropolitan Detail Series of Maps
WrittenWeir + Phillips2008Heritage Review of Selected Streets within Darlinghurst

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2421506
File number: S047440


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