Vaucluse mansion demolished, leaves legacy of heritage concerns on council

Vaucluse mansion demolished, leaves legacy of heritage concerns on council

The Vaucluse house built in the 1920s for Henry Arnott, barrister and son of William Arnott of the biscuit family. A century-old house in Vaucluse built for the Arnott biscuit family that was proposed for heritage listing has been demolished, prompting outrage from neighbours and Woollahra Council.

The owners of the 1920s-built residence were able to knock down the house after an interim heritage order was revoked by state Liberal MP Don Harwin, paving the way for a contemporary 16-room mansion.

Councillor Anthony Marano said the destruction of the house was devastating given this was a particularly fine example of one of the area’s few remaining houses designed by an acclaimed architect of the inter-war era, F. Glynn Gilling.

The Mediterranean-style residence on 1700 square metres was built for Henry Arnott, barrister and son of William Arnott of the biscuit family, and featured classic Gilling features such as an arched entry and windows, baroque parapet, twisted barley-sugar columns, decorative wrought-iron grills and a prominent chimney. An aerial view of the F. Glynn Gilling house as it was when it last traded in 2013 for $15 million. For decades it was owned by Haverick Meats’ John Andrews and his wife Mary until they sold it in 2013 for $15 million to Chinese-born King Fai Chu, a director of Great Wall International, and Xiaoyi Zhu, who owns the recently built house directly across the road, bought in 2013 for $6.7 million.

“It’s such a shame that the owners didn’t appreciate and value the heritage and beauty of this home,” said local resident Sarah Aitken. “Woollahra Council tried valiantly to save it.

“We must fight harder to protect these homes with architectural heritage and a place in our history. “ Get the best property news and advice delivered straight to your inbox.

However, it was Woollahra Council that originally approved the DA for a three-level house with a basement garage, a home theatre, a gym, a maid’s room, a library, various formal and informal living and dining rooms and a pool in 2015 after a heritage officer mistakenly approved its demolition.

An interim heritage order by Heritage and Arts Minister Don Harwin saved it in December 2019 and offered council time to assess the home’s heritage value.

The orders were extended a year later after heritage investigations found the property “retains significant fabric and legibility as a Gilling design”. However, a Heritage NSW spokeswoman said it was revoked on May 31 after the owners commenced legal proceedings in the Land and Environment Court.

Within weeks, the house had been flattened. All that remains of the heritage house is the panoramic view of Sydney Harbour. The DA that was approved in 2015 would have lapsed last year while protection orders were still in place, but the five-year deadline to start work was extended in June last year by the Department of Planning as part of the pandemic relief measures.

“Council is disappointed with this outcome which follows 18 months of work to protect the building,” said a spokesman. “There is currently a […]

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