Roxy-Pacific refutes media reports on Hensley

Property and hospitality group Roxy-Pacific Holdings has refuted Australian media reports that said it had demolished much of the historic facade of an inner-city building without approval.

The group said in a Singapore Exchange filing yesterday that it has been diligent in the planning, design and construction processes for the eight-storey Hensley development in Potts Point, Sydney.

This was to ensure "absolute respect for the original building features... with a commitment to preserving the history of the site and maintaining the safety of its workers and the general public".

Australian media reported this month that an investigation in August had found that an engaged column, spandrels and parapets between two gabled ends of the Edwardian facade were demolished without approval from The City of Sydney Council. Reports cited the council saying enforcement action was being considered, and Roxy-Pacific has been ordered to reinstate the wall.

The demolition has been described by locals as a "two-finger salute" by the developer to the community, in reference to two gables left standing.

Roxy-Pacific said in a statement it has been working closely with the council since receiving development approval to ensure certain original building elements were successfully retained or rebuilt.

While having to retain certain features of the facade, the development approval also allowed the removal of certain elements to create openings for apartment balconies, terraces and a two-storey entry void into the main building, it noted.

It said that as part of this adaptive re-use construction, which was approved by the council, parts of the facade will be rebuilt, along with the roof structure, to maintain its original form.

However, due to the age of the facade, all dilapidated timber and unstable masonry had to be either removed or retained. This is to ensure the completed building meets the Building Codes of Australia and Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) requirements.

It said: "Roxy-Pacific has consulted with the council and was advised that the works currently being carried out on site are in accordance with the development approval and council has no issues."

But the firm acknowledged it has been fined by the council for removing some items from the facade during the building process without development consent.

Roxy-Pacific said it reserves the rights to refute the fine under OH&S grounds. All works are continuing as per normal.

The Hensley development is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2017, with the headline 'Roxy-Pacific refutes media reports on Hensley'. Print Edition | Subscribe