Bays and Foreshores activity in 2016-7 has again been focused on attempts to influence the Bays Precinct (BP) Urban Renewal Project and, to a lesser extent, ongoing developments in relation Sydney Super Yachts Marina (SSYM) in Rozelle Bay.
Asa Wahlquist has been an active participant in the Bays and Foreshores activities this year.
1. Main Activity 2016-7
The range of activities has included:
- attendance at BP Community Reference Group meetings and workshops organised by UrbanGrowth NSW
- meeting with UrbanGrowth’s BP manager Paul Hedge and staff
- small meeting with commissioners of Greater Sydney Commission (10/11/16) to discuss its role with City of Sydney and inner west councils and in relation to the Bays Precinct
- ongoing liaison and planning meetings with other Bays community groups through the Blackwattle Cove Coalition (BCC), the wider Bays Community Coalition (BaCC) including Annandale and Rozelle residents and individual meetings with Pyrmont/Ultimo colleagues
- participation in public meeting opposing the relocation of Occasional Cruises Maritime operation to Bank St
- meeting with Premier Berejiklian’s transport and planning advisers in relation to the Bays Precinct and the Bank St decision and the general lack of meaningful consultation by UrbanGrowth
- TGSI Submission objecting to relocation of Occasional Cruises Maritime to Bank St site in Rozelle bay (also individual submission by Asa Wahlquist)
- attendance at SSYM Community Liaison Group meetings
- reports in TGSI Bulletin
2. Developments in Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Project
In October 2016 we heard the startling news that UrbanGrowth had won two major awards for their excellence in public consultation in the Bays Precinct Project. I reported on the widespread reaction of hilarity and rage within the community at this extraordinary news in the October TGSI Bulletin.
The unexplained resignation of David Pitchford, the head of UrbanGrowth, in late 2016 signalled a significant change of status and direction for the organisation and for the BP project itself. One can only speculate that the Government was not willing to support his vision for the White Bay Power station and adjoining foreshore redevelopment – and was perhaps generally dissatisfied with lack of progress.
It is safe to presume that ongoing tension with both Roads and Maritime Services and the behemoth WestConnex over transport planning – and of course the anger of developers thwarted in their bids for the White Bay Power Station/ foreshore development – were central to this outcome.
3. Sydney Fishmarket
The long running saga of the Sydney Fishmarket redevelopment has been a key issue.
David Pitchford’s last public announcement re the Bays was the startling news that the Baird Government had decided to relocate the Fishmarket to a new site on Bridge Rd opposite Wentworth Park. (November 2016). There had been no public consultation on this decision. There was no explanation for this relocation to a very constrained and technically challenging site which has huge construction, traffic/parking and foreshore access problems to overcome – and unclear implications for Wentworth Park. It will be a very costly project.
It would have been most interesting to see the bottom-line analysis of relative public benefit of this decision versus a redevelopment on the existing site (as previously planned) – with a lesser but still significant proportion of the large site available for the planned sell-off to developers for intensive high rise residential and commercial development.
The appointment of a highly regarded Danish architectural firm (3XN) with Australian partners in June 2017 following a competitive tender was positive news. It is just possible that an experienced and excellent architectural team may be able to come up with optimal solutions to the huge constraints on the site and deliver Sydney a splendid new Fishmarket – at a cost.
The CRG met with the architect at a workshop in August – which was later run for the wider community. The discussion was reassuring in terms of their vision and competence. However, they had no information as to the wider transport plans nor of the future of Wentworth Park – other than that the fig trees were untouchable and that the desired connecting of Wentworth Park and the new Fishmarket/foreshore would have to be over Bridge Rd. Public access to the foreshore would have to be at the highest level of the Fishmarket building.
We are optimistic the new Fishmarket design will be splendid. We are less hopeful about likely transport/traffic solutions and about access by the predicted 6 million people each year to the splendid building.
4. Relocation of Occasional Cruises to Bank St
We were totally surprised in July by the revelation (through a public development modification proposal) that the Government/UrbanGrowth had decided to relocate Occasional Cruises (the controversial Elias brothers operation) from its current location at B1 and B2 wharves on Bridge Rd to a site on Bank St which had previously been approved for the Heritage Fleet.
There was no mention of this proposal at meetings of the CRG though members consistently asked specific questions as to any developments re the site. It is now clear that UrbanGrowth, RMS and Planning had been progressing this proposal for a considerable time. One can only presume this was a Government approved or imposed stance.
The foreshore area is zoned public open space/public park and authorities have repeatedly committed to the provision of a public park on the site. Occasional Cruises has not been the best of tenants at its current site – as visitors to the Fishmarket can observe. There is a host of other amenity reasons why this is not an appropriate relocation.
Pyrmont residents are angry and managed to get 200 plus people to a public meeting within days of the information surfacing. Asa Wahlquist spoke on behalf of the Glebe Society and the meeting unanimously resolved to oppose the relocation. TGSI has submitted a formal objection to the proposal (https://www.glebesociety.org.au/?p=13148)
It is, however, more than likely that this is a done deal.
5. Industrial Operations to Glebe Island
Most recently the Government and UrbanGrowth have announced the relocation of Hanson’s cement mixing plants to Glebe Island and the continuation of Ports maritime activities on that site for at least 20 years. The relocation/consolidation of these plants to Glebe Island has long been mooted – but was in contention with other proposals for a hi-tech innovative precinct and of course the longstanding push from developer lobbies for intensive high-rise development on Glebe Island.
On balance this might be a good decision which will provide needed ports facilities and construction supplies close to the city and inner west – and will protect the site from the more rapacious developers for at least a few decades.
6. The Master Plan
In August the Government/UrbanGrowth selected an urban designer (FJMT) to develop the ‘Masterplan for the Bays Market District’ for the current Fishmarket site, the land along Bank St and at head of Blackwattle Bay on Bridge Rd and the waters of the Bay. It has now invited the CRG and the community to participate in consultation on this ‘Masterplan’.
We have contributed, and will continue to contribute, ideas – but as was very vehemently pointed out at the last CRG, it is somewhat of a sham in that the Government has already taken all the key redevelopment decisions about the uses for these sites. These consultations now can only be at the margins of these decisions.
Even more outrageous is the fact that we – and maybe even the design consultant – continue in total ignorance of the Government’s thinking (dare we say ‘planning’?) on transport options to manage the huge problems for the whole of the Bays – and these sites in particular.
7. Google departs White Bay
In April UrbanGrowth’s vision for a hi-tech hub on White Bay collapsed with the withdrawal of Google, with Government compliance, from arrangements that were well progressed. Google cited inadequate transport facilities as its reason. This would certainly have been a key factor. There were most probably other factors to which we are not privy. We await development on this very significant site.
TGSI focus for next year
We will continue to object to the selloff of public land for short term cash gains. We will try to influence the principles for the design of the Fishmarket and the Bays Market District. Key issues will be the inclusion of a significant proportion of affordable housing (closer to 30% than 5%) on any residential development, a general 30 metre foreshore setback for public access, protection of Wentworth Park as open space parkland, resistance to the currently mooted very intensive residential development on the current Fishmarket site, retention of the Glebe Island Bridge – and urgent release of the Government’s plans for transport and social infrastructure (schools, hospital space, sporting facilities etc) to cope with the large surge in population and visitors to this already congested area.