The City of Sydney has launched an urgent investigation into the illegal demolition of the heritage facade of Hensley Hall, a former boarding house, in Kings Cross.

Singapore-based developer Roxy Pacific began construction last year to build high-rise apartments on the abandoned Hensley Hall site. Council did not approve changes to the Edwardian façade on Bayswater Road, built in 1912, but majority of the frontage has been torn down during work on a new tower block. Only two thin features of the façade remain upstanding with the support of metal girders.

The approved plans for the new development showed Roxy Pacific would retain the terrace, update the twin-terrace facade and add an eight-storey building to house 44 apartments (with prices starting from $850,000 for a one-bedroom unit).

“The city gave development consent for the demolition of the existing contributory building at 37 to 41 Bayswater Road, which did not include the Bayswater Road facade,” a City of Sydney spokesperson said in an official statement.

“It appears some elements of the facade that were to be retained, have been removed. The city is currently investigating its unauthorised removal and considering the heritage impact of the work undertaken.”

Speaking to Broadsheet, Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Society president Andrew Woodhosuse says “it is the only building of its kind in Kings Cross that is heritage-listed.”

“It has social, historical and architectural significance in the area, now 80 per cent has been taken down, which I say looks like a two-finger salute the community.”

Woodhouse says the group has asked council to intervene and have work stopped immediately, as well as imposing hefty fines and reinstating the facade with the 4000 bricks that have been stored away.

“I think [the] council should throw the book at the developers and the full force of the law should be applied, otherwise there is no point in even lodging a DA,” says Woodhouse.

“Clover Moore as Lord Mayor should rally her council resources and make a stand in favour of retention of heritage and not just pay lip service.”

Roxy Pacific declined to comment.

The Hensley development (which includes a ground-floor cafe) is slated for completion in December this year.

Subscribe to the Broadsheet newsletter and get Sydney’s latest, straight to your inbox.