Greenhays days numbered

Ward 3 Councillor Shae Foenander has called on the state government to step in to save Greenhays, one of the most historically significant homes in the Lower Blue Mountains which could be knocked down in coming days.

Concerned locals outside the historic home: Cheryl Young, Nola Forster, Cr Shae Foenander and Julie Forster.

Concerned locals outside the historic home: Cheryl Young, Nola Forster, Cr Shae Foenander and Julie Forster.

A private certifier approved the demolition of Greenhays (also known as Greenheys) on the corner of the Great Western Highway (409-417) and Churchill Street earlier this year. The 1853 historic home was built before the railway line was built.

In an urgency motion at the November 26 council meeting, Cr Foenander asked for council to look into how it was taken off the local heritage register and provide any advice on how to stop the demolition.

"I think it's sinful," she told the meeting. "I don't know what we can do, I believe it's probably too late and will be knocked down within days, but we've got to try something."

The development was able to bypass the council process through the use of a private certifier and after the state government took elected councillors out of the development process in 2017, she said.

"This change affected every council in Sydney. If we still had our powers I would call this before councillors. I am publicly calling on the NSW government to stop this process and reject this proposal. It is crucial we preserve our heritage. It's an insane proposition that must be stopped in its tracks."

The owners of the house applied last year to build 16 dwellings for seniors housing on the site. But it was refused by council and the owners withdrew their DA. They then went to Urban Approvals, an accredited private certifying authority, which in February approved the planned demolition.

A council spokeswoman previously said the demolition was approved under a state planning policy as a "complying development" - fast tracked by an accredited certifier.

"Council is notified of the complying development after approval has been granted. This is notification only. Council has no role in the assessment or determination."

Greenhays was removed as a local heritage item in 2005 after experts found additions and alterations had compromised its integrity. It last changed hands in February 1999, when it sold for $515,000. It was described as a 409 sq metre sandstone house with wide, tiled verandas, four double bedrooms, large formal lounge and dining room.

A council spokeswoman said the building's original character had been too heavily compromised to retain its heritage listing within the Local Environment Plan 1991.

"Notwithstanding that a number of detailed analyses have concluded the dwelling does not have sufficient value to merit listing as a heritage item, the council has maintained the position it does have significant character value and has requested the applicant consider the potential for retention or incorporation of the Greenhays building within the new development."

Cr Mick Fell said when development was "expedited at all costs" problems like this occurred, as well as the issues with dangerous cladding and apartments cracking that were being seen in the city. The motion was carried unanimously.

The Gazette has sought comment from the state government.