Australia’s major museum of arts and sciences in Sydney’s most evocative heritage building. Responsibility for facts stated is taken by Tom Lockley, PO Box 301Pyrmont

Bulletin 72: urgent!

On 21 June the Government put on exhibition a Concept State Significant Development Application for modifications to the Powerhouse Museum that they characterise as plans for ‘a revitalised museum at the heart of a vibrant Creative Industries Precinct’. Essentially, a SSD enables the Government to override all other developmental controls, including heritage considerations and Local Government requirements. 

There are 2187 pages of documentation, including 567 pages of Conservation Management Plan. It takes a lot of effort to get to the nub of the complex matters raised.

However, it is already clear that if approved, the SSD could enable the stripping out of the entire museum, apart from the fundamental structure of the original Powerhouse buildings and any items connected with this original use of these buildings. Nothing else is covered by heritage restrictions, so the ‘revitalisation’ could begin from this base, with the award-winning 1988 museum conversion demolished. The current heritage assessment states that the significance of the museum as such is purely local, and not ‘to a degree which warrants a [heritage] listing’ – and to most of us, this is utterly absurd, and we suspect the motivation of this assessment.


If you are happy with the idea of the remaining traditional areas of the museum being stripped out to prepare for a ‘Powerhouse’ (no longer called a ‘museum’) centred around fashion and design, you should say so. But if you believe that areas such as the Steam Gallery are world treasures, and you want the say the PHM’s Sulman award winning design and heritage adaptation retained, and you want a world-class museum of applied arts and sciences retained at its central heritage site, and you want precious financial resources spent on building on present strengths rather than destruction, you need to say say so, as soon as possible. If you have sent submissions before, eg to the two Inquiries, please emphasise your views by sending yet another series of messages.

Once more unto the computers, dear friends, once more. Stuff up the email box of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment via its Major Projects Portal with your submissions. IMPORTANT: be sure to indicate on your submission that you are against the SSD, otherwise your submission may be regarded as a comment. There is no need to write a long submission, a few sentences will do. Ask any questions of the PR firm Ethos Urban at its email . And get in the ear of any politicians you have access to: this total project is a travesty of democratic process, as has been shown over the years.

Please, whatever your opinions, act quickly: the closing date for the ‘consultation’ period is July 21. There are two remaining information sessions at the Powerhouse Museum, Thursday 14 July: 5.30 – 7.30pm  and Saturday 16 July: 11am – 2pm. (We are seeking an extension to this consultative period: if you would like to support this application email ).

We are working on another bulletin, with more information and detail, but for additional  explanation of the current complex situation, read Kylie Winkworth’s briefing document for politicians, attached.


For more information  See also:

Tom Lockley, 12 July 2022,( is the best method of communication if you have any comments, queries about content or corrections of fact, which are all greatly appreciated).

Tom Lockley

0403 615 134....