Planning approval blow

“Important buildings like these historic Sydney sandstones should be used for public purposes, not sold off for the exclusive use of the privileged, Greens MP John Kaye said last week as final approval came for the Education and Lands buildings to be turned into hotels.

The 1915 Department of Education building above, designed by renowned architect George McRae, is to have three storeys built upon its sandstone majesty. Both it and the beautiful Lands building stand on Bridge Street, close to the tourist precinct of Circular Quay.

The Planning Department said the additional storeys would not add any height to the Education building because the space was already being taken up by lifts and other infrastructure.

Both buildings are expected to bring in up to $30 million a year to the government on 99-year leases to hotel operators. The decision “brings NSW closer to losing its public heritage”, Dr Kaye said.

“Selling off this symbol of public education is indicative of what this government thinks of its responsibility to NSW public schools and their students,” Dr Kaye said.

Educators and architects alike have expressed dismay at the decision to take the building out of educational use and to remodel the historic building.