Whether a century-old Mosman mansion is a heritage-listed site or just another apartment development opportunity has become a topic of controversy among residents.
After hundreds of submissions, Mosman Council has decided to reject a $4.2 million development application proposal on several grounds to turn the historic 92 Raglan Street home, built in 1906, into a three-story complex.
The proposal was submitted by the property developer and owner of the house, who plans to bulldoze the mansion and renovate it into apartments featuring a pool, outdoor terraces and six car spaces.
A proposal to build an apartment block on the site has been rejected by Mosman Council and is now in the hands of the Land and Environment Court.
Mosman Collective approached the owner for insight but was refused comment.
However, the fight is far from over, with the decision now in the hands of the Land and Environment Court, which had an on-site inspection and conciliation conference on Tuesday morning.
Phil Burfurd, who is the head of the Mosman Conservation Group, stood among a group of silent protesters at yesterday’s gathering to convey the community’s disdain for the proposed development.
“The objective was to give some key messages to the commissioner for the land and Environment Court… there were some views that we thought needed, he needed to understand,” Mr Burfurd said.
“The council’s decision to reject the application, and a whole range of technical reasons. We believe these were acceptable mostly to do with height, and bulk and scale of the development on the site.”
Concerned locals attended a special on-site inspection conducted by the Land and Environment Court on Tuesday.
The community also expressed concern for neighbours whose lifestyles may be directly affected due to the renovations, particularly a woman who has been living next door for over 30 years.
“Between the two properties was a line of trees that was put up some 30 years ago, to provide them with privacy; under the development to excavate for underground car parking, those trees would disappear.
“With the trees taken away, there was a complete line of sight, lack of privacy between the two properties, which were really concerning her.. as well as the excavation of four meters for the underground car parking was inside a meter from the boundary fence..” Mr Burfurd said.
Records show the 118 year old home was purchased in 2019 for $5,313,750.
To save the building, residents put in an application for the property to be given heritage status.
A Mosman Council spokeswoman said the home had not met the requirements for heritage status during previous studies.
Still, the historic significance is certainly the focal point among concern from residents, so much so that Fiona Gracie, head of the Cremorne Conservation Group has joined forces with the MCG to protect the Raglan St mansion.
“In the case of Raglan Street, it has associative significance with Arthur Hale, who was the Mosman Council architect responsible for designing the building amongst other things, it has a direct associated significance with a person of significance.” Ms Gracie explained.
Hale was also responsible for designing iconic buildings such as Mosman Village Church, the Bathers Pavilion and the original Council offices.
“It has cultural significance because that type of building was the turn of the century, a middle-class society at the time that was coming into Mosman,” she said.
“And so it indicates the kind of dwelling that people of that standing would have been purchasing and building, particularly somebody like Arthur Hale, who would have been one of the preeminent architects of the time in the area.” Ms Gracie continued.
Ornate stained glass and a grand original staircase are just some of the historic features inside “Gargrave”.
Caro Webster – a previous owner who bought the house in 2007 and sold it in 2015 – says she and her family were heartbroken when they heard the property could potentially become demolished for new apartments.
“The home was my daughter’s favourite because she said it hugged you when you walked in … probably 30 friends and family who spent time in that house were mortified that it could be knocked down,” she said.
“There needs to be a balance between preserving what should remain existing and what needs developing… I mean, I know it’s not the grandest house – but it is pretty much now, because of the lack of those homes on Raglan Street,” Mrs Webster said.
92 Raglan St was built in 1906 and angry residents are vowing to fight against its destruction.