King Street Heritage Conservation Area | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


King Street Heritage Conservation Area

Item details

Name of item: King Street Heritage Conservation Area
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Urban Area
Category: Other - Urban Area
Primary address: Refer To Map, Newtown, Erskineville, NSW
Parish: Petersham
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney


All properties from 3-5 King Street and Forbes Avenue near Sydney University and Concord St that fall within the Council Area and have part of their boundary adjacent to King St (except at Nos 344-350 King St where the boundary is 50m from the boundary with King St), as well as including the following properties: No1 Longdown St, Nos 168, 193, 195, 197 and 199 Missenden Rd, Nos1, 3, 5 and 7 Hordern St, Nos1-3 Queen St, Nos 2-6 Brown St, Nos1, 1A and 8-10 Brown St, No1 Erskineville Rd, Nos 1-15 Wilson St, Smith Ln, Whitehorse Ln, No 600A King St, Nos 201, 203 & 205 Rochford St, No 1A Bray St & Concord Street near Sydney Park..
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Refer To MapNewtown, ErskinevilleSydneyPetershamCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The King Street and Enmore Road retail strip is of state historical, social and aesthetic significance as it provides an evocative physical record of significant historical phases which shaped the "New Town" from the late 19th to the early 20th Century, and has high regard in the community.

The retail strip provides evidence of the working class residential boom of the late 1870s -1880s, and the economic boom of the late 19th century, exemplified by the quality and quantity of late-Victorian period building stock. Many of the buildings are impressive reminders of the area's role as a civic, retail and entertainment hub. The continuous two and three storey facades and the general uniformity of scale in the area create a distinct visual impression and outstanding townscape qualities, particularly in the central King Street precinct. The consistency and relative intactness of the late 19th and early 20th century building stock is unique in the Sydney region and the State as a whole. A large number of Art Deco and Interwar period hotels demonstrate the highly populated, working class nature of the suburb in the early 20th century. The streetscape has high aesthetic value which is enhanced by the closed vistas created by street curves and by the views over the surrounding areas afforded by the alignment following the ridge line. Mixed retail uses, including delicatessens, and changes to shopfronts dating from the 1950s and 1960s reflect the strong influence of post-war migrants on the area.

The area has social significance due its high regard in the community arising from its vibrant mix of retail and community uses.
Date significance updated: 15 Aug 11
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1870-1930
Physical description: The character and description of the King Street Conservation Area can best be identified in three visually distinct precincts.

Precinct One follows King Street from near the intersection with City Road ( Nos 3-5 King Street on the north side and from Forbes Street on the south side) to its intersection with Missenden Road. Key elements that define this precinct include the two storey late 19th to early 20th century buildings with predominantly stucco facades, decorative parapets and suspended awnings. The massing, scale and materials used vary substantially, which is typical of the late Victorian to early Federation era.

Precinct Two follows King Street from its intersection with Missenden Road to the Newtown Railway Bridge. It includes all of the southern side, and the northern side from Missenden Road to Church Street. ( The northern side of King Street west of Church Street is located within Marrickville Council) The streetscape possess a similar, but more intact built form with predominantly three storey plus parapet buildings. The building height to street width ratio is much greater in this precinct and creates a strong sense of visual containment, street enclosure and sense of arrival. The area at the Railway Bridge is in direct contrast with the rest of the area as a large, open and uncluttered realm. This small and strongly framed area contains the Court House, Town Hall, Fire Station, Police Station and former School of Arts. The original trachyte and bluestone kerb and guttering still exist along the length of this precinct.

Precinct Three follows eastern side of King Street from the Newtown Railway Bridge to its intersection with the Princes Highway at St Peters. The buildings are still predominantly late Victorian, to early Federation, although there are some inter-war buildings as well as a number of infill buildings, some of which are inconsistent with the character of the streetscape. The tall chimney stacks of the former Brickworks in Sydney Park remain a significant landmark while original streetscape elements such as the trachyte kerb and guttering enrich the visual experience.

Street trees are not a characteristic feature of the street. Stone kerb and guttering (trachyte, bluestone and sandstone) still exists in parts of the street. The string of pearls under awning pendant lighting provides a consistent lighting theme in the street dating from the c 1930s onwards.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The Conservation Area is relatively intact and holds potential for further research into the processes of early settlement and urbanisation that helped shape the area. Buildings are relatively intact.
Date condition updated:14 Aug 08
Further information: 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: Mixed uses predominantly commercial and residential
Former use: as above


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.

With European Occupation of the Sydney region from 1788, the Cadigal and Wangal people were largely decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. However any evidence of traditional occupation of the King Street Area is unlikely to have survived the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The King Street Conservation Area formed part of the land grants offered by Governor Phillip between 1793 and 1810. The largest owners of the lands that are part of the conservation area include William Bligh, Nicholas Devine and Thomas Rowley. The early surveyors used the ridgeline as the boundary between the grants and their point of convergence is now the open space at the Railway Bridge.

From the 1830s onwards many wealthy families moved to the suburb of ‘New Town’ to build large villas and large estates. The introduction of the railway line in 1855 made the area easily accessible from the city and marked a new era of greater urban settlement and consolidation. Between 1850 and 1870 the area became a residential retreat from the congestion and unpleasantness of the city.

The processes of urbanisation accelerated between 1870 and 1890 due to the influx of immigrants attracted by the gold rush in the 1850s and 1860s, the introduction of tramway services from the 1880s and the economic boom that gripped the country in the 1880s. The King Street area quickly became a commercial and retail hub, reflected by many of its imposing buildings still remaining intact.

The importance of the area as a major route for motor traffic during the 1920s to 30s is reflected in the surviving inter-war garages such as the Rising Sun Garage and Malcolm Motors. Many of the hotels built during this period also provides evidence of the working class nature of the area.

The string of pearls under awning pendant lighting, that were installed from c 1930s onwards, provides a consistent lighting theme in the street.

The post war migrant influx into Australia and influence on Newtown is reflected in the mixed retail uses, including delicatessens, and shopfronts introduced in the 1950s and 1960s.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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. (none)-
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 Living in the City-
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 Development-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The area holds a significant record of important historical phases associated with the expansion of Sydney during the mid to late 19th century brought on by the introduction of the railway line in 1855 and tramway services in the 1880s, and the economic and immigration flux triggered by the gold rushes in the 1850s and 1860s. The high quality and quantity of commercial and retail buildings demonstrate the economic boom of the 1880s. The surviving garages dating from the 1920s and 30s also reflect the importance of King Street as a major traffic route. The number of hotels along the length of King Street shows evidence of the working class nature of the area. The post war migrant influx into Australia and influence on Newtown is reflected in the mixed retail uses, including delicatessens, and shopfronts introduced in the 1950s and 1960s.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The retail strip of King St and Enmore Rd exemplifies the economic boom of the late nineteenth century. The continuous two and three storey decorative stucco facades , particularly in the central King St area, create a distinct visual impression and demonstrate positive landmark qualities as a remarkable collection of buildings through almost the whole streetscape This is enhanced by the curved nature of the streets, narrow building allotments and the ridgeline topography. Collectively the buildings are a fine representative example of late Victorian and early Federation period commercial design, which have largely retained their form and original features.

The quantity and quality of building stock is unique in the Sydney Metropolitan Area and the state of NSW
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The local community’s esteem for the area is reflected in the high level of original building fabric remaining in the area and their involvement in planning for the future in the area, particularly through the South Sydney and Marrickville Heritage Societies. The area is also classified by the National Trust and is identified in the Register for the National Estate..
SHR Criteria f)
The consistency and relative intactness of the late Victorian and early Federation building stock is unique in the Sydney Metropolitan area and the whole of the State.
Integrity/Intactness: High integrity, particularly in first and second floor street facades.
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:

General A Heritage Impact Statement is required to accompany Development Applications involving changes to the external appearance of properties in the area, (unless deemed by Council to be of a minor nature and to not result in adverse heritage impacts), for alterations and additions to existing buildings and for demolition and new infill development. Buildings are to step down at the rear, to a maximum eternal wall height of 7.5m, to be compatible with the scale and character of adjacent residential areas in keeping with the built form pattern of King Street. Street trees are not characteristic of the street and should not be planted. Stone kerbing should be retained. With repairs/replacement to awnings and for new awnings "String of Pearl" under awning pendant lighting is to be provided, as is typical along the street. Off street parking must only be provided at the rear of buildings unless already existing. Signage is to sympathetic to the street, not detract from the architectural features of building, and in accordance with the relevant controls. Heritage Items and Contributory Buildings The original form, scale and detail of existing heritage items and contributory buildings shall be retained and enhanced where possible. There should be no alterations to the facades of heritage items and contributory buildings above awning level other than to reinstate original features. Resintatement of verandahs,verandah posts and balconies are encouraged but is to be based on physical and/or documentary evidence. Early shop fronts and external ceramic wall tiles to be retained and conserved. Vertical additions to heritage items and contributory buildings are not to be visible from King Street and the streets off it. Alterations and additions are to be carefully considered such that retain the intactness and consistency of the streetscape. . Neutral Buildings Neutral buildings should preferably be retained and enhanced, but may be replaced with a sympathetic replacement building. Detracting Buildings Buildings that detract from the conservation area should preferably be replaced by sympathetic buildings or alternatively enhanced where possible. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, shall not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with Council's controls. Development shall respect the low scale and modest predominantly Victorian and Federation character of the street. New Infill Buildings Shall respond to and not obscure the topography Be fine grained and fit its context Takes its cue from nearby contributory buildings within the street The heights of new buildings at street boundary is to be determined by the prevalent height of adjacent and neighbouring contributory buildings. Must respond to, and not obscure the topography of the area Must respect the predominant late Victorian and Federation character of the area Shall satisfy the following guidelines: 1.The street facades are to be divided into bottom, middle and top 2. The street façades are to give prominence to vertical bays created by attached piers and feature panels rather than the expression of floor levels 3. Windows and doors to the street facades are to be generally in a vertical proportion and are located within vertical bays. Wide horizontal recessed balcony openings are out of character with the streetscape and not supported. 4. If openings to the facades are not themselves in a vertical proportion they are to be framed by treatments which accentuate the vertical proportion of the bays which they are located 5. Shutters/ grills above the awning may be used if they are sympathetic to the required modelling of the façade 6. The masonry parapets are to have wall thickness similar to prevailing later 19th and early 20th century buildings , and the vertical bays should be reflected in the parapet. The height of the parapet is to be limited to the proportions of the façade. 7. Use of appropriate materials and colours - If face brick is to be used it is to be smooth faced and of dark brown/red colour ( not black!!) and not patterned or mottled.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012C 4714 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenKeys Young & Godden Mackay Logan1999King Street and Enmore Road Heritage & Urban Design Study

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: 2421485

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