Bourke Street Police Station to a become a dwelling

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GSA Planning prepared a Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) to accompany a Development Application to City of Sydney Council. The proposal, which was designed by David Selden Design, involved an adaptive reuse of the former Surry Hills Police Station in Bourke Street to a dwelling, as well as associated alterations and additions to the heritage listed building.

Our clients, Mr & Mrs Tower (see Photograph above) were recently featured in The Sunday Telegraph for their successful purchase of the former Police Station.

LIVING in a police lock-up once occupied by some of the worst crims might seem unsettling — but not for Sydney’s Joe and Mona Tower.


They can’t wait to transform the 1895 Surry Hills cop shop in Bourke St into a house, but intend to keep reminders of its dark past. Apart from a luxury overhaul on their $1.9 million investment, they will keep the cell-sized rooms, the bars on the central corridor and the original steel back door. Even the original police station sign emblazoned in stone above the front door will remain. Cell shapes will be retained for rooms, including bedrooms and the kitchen.

Council documents stipulate that while original internal walls could be removed, some of the masonry had to be retained “to interpret the original cell space”. As much material as possible such as stones, bricks, joinery and metal is to be recycled and used to build the new house, documents state. And to seal the deal, a brass plaque detailing the site’s history must be installed on the facade or fence of the property before anyone moves in.

The Towers were fortunate to nab the police station as a new home as it was rare to find buildings like it now in Sydney, leading heritage consultant James Phillips said. Phillips, who created Eveleigh Markets from a blacksmith’s shop and updated the old buildings in the Royal Botanic Gardens, said the trend had started with the transformation of wool sheds around Pyrmont in the 1970s. “There’s not a lot left like this one and many of the easy ones have been done,” Mr Phillips said. “There’s only a few remnant industrial buildings being converted — it’s not something we see very much of now.”

The approval comes on the back of a raft of converted properties offered up for sale. A luxury architect-designed home in Beattie St, Balmain, is asking $2 million-plus and sits behind the original facade of a Sydney Mission theatre once used to show films to the underprivileged.