The Glebe Society is now able to say it has a strong and widely supported community position on acceptable development for the Harold Park and Tramsheds site.

This is set out in a resolution which rejects the proposal put forward by the Government Architect’s Office (GAO) in February and proposes, instead, 15 principles designed to address widespread concerns with that proposal.  These principles establish a bottom line from which we will assess future proposals and around which we will campaign as hard, and as long, as is necessary.

Because the future development of Harold Park and Tramsheds site is of such importance to our community and to the City, we wanted a robust and inclusive process through which we could develop a credible response to the GAO proposal.  We also need lots of local engagement in, and support of a consensus community position, if we are to be successful in influencing the final outcomes.

For these reasons we took a developing draft resolution on Harold Park and the Tramsheds to three meetings of Glebe, Forest Lodge and Annandale residents over the last two weeks.

A meeting of Glebe Society members was held at Benledi on 8 April with around 40 to 50 attending.  This meeting allowed members to assess the emerging Glebe Society position before it was more widely tested in the community.  It was a very constructive discussion and led to a few clarifying amendments to the principles.

I accepted an invitation from Jamie Parker to speak at a public meeting held by the Greens at Forest Lodge School on 12 April.  This meeting also had a very respectable attendance of around 130 residents.  I distributed copies of the Glebe Society resolution and highlighted some of the most significant issues.  Again, it was a very constructive meeting with a high degree of consensus emerging on core issues.  The Greens announced a set of six principles they wanted adopted by Sydney Council.  As these were all covered by the broader Glebe Society resolution, Jamie Parker moved that the meeting endorse the Glebe Society position.  As there had only been time to discuss some of the principles, this became a unanimous ‘in principle’ endorsement.  Participants were also invited to send comments to the Glebe Society, and many did.

Several amendments were made to the resolution on the basis of the views put forward at this meeting – most significantly relating to widening the traffic study and ensuring it included the impact on the Wigram Road/Booth Street intersection and a stipulation that any commercial/retail development in the Tramsheds be small scale and in harmony with the shopping strips in Glebe and Annandale.

The third public meeting was convened by the Glebe Society at St Scholastica’s on 21 April and around 200 attended.  The importance of this meeting was signalled by the presence of our local member Verity Firth who contributed to discussion as well as the Mayor of Leichhardt, Jamie Parker, who arrived for the latter part –having been at a Leichhardt Council meeting.  Meredith Burgmann was there for the City of Sydney as were several of the planning staff.

There was a high degree of consistency across the three meetings.  The Glebe Society’s public meeting was conducted a little more formally because it was the intent to finalise endorsement of the resolution.  This included putting a few issues to the vote.

One important matter on which a vote was taken related to the inclusion of affordable housing (for teachers, nurses, bus drivers etc).  The Glebe Society position of strong advocacy for this was overwhelmingly supported.  It would be a great loss to our community if such people are effectively forced out of the inner city and this part of Glebe.  Fortunately provision for affordable housing is City of Sydney, NSW and Federal government policy so this seems to be an achievable outcome at Harold Park.

The proposals around height of buildings, density, amount and configuration of open space, traffic impact and exclusion of large scale retail/commercial activities were all supported – albeit with a number of clarifying amendments.  We have put a lot of thought into designing a set of workable principles that will together reduce the height of building to acceptable levels both along the cliff face and the other perimeters, reduce the proposed density and deliver on a reasonable quantum of new public open space.

While a small number of people have argued for 100% of the site being declared public open space, a large majority supported our current proposal that at least 35% be formally dedicated public open space under the management of the City of Sydney.  We have argued this more modest target, not only because we think it realistic and attainable, but also because we think it a fair and appropriate balance between our need for more parks and playing fields and the pressure for more housing in the desirable inner city areas such as Glebe.  This will provide just over 3.6 hectares of public open space as well as allowing for considerable additional housing.

Some ideas and concerns could not be translated into workable principles (eg some concerns about height of buildings and traffic flow) but can be addressed at the later DA stage of the City’s planning process.

There was lively discussion of our argument, expressed in principle 9, that the heritage Tramsheds should be restored to public and community use by reimbursing the Club for what they paid ($2.2m) suitably adjusted for inflation.  It is clear that there is overwhelming support for the argument that it is fair and reasonable proposition – given the particulars of the means of acquisition and subsequent neglect of the Tramsheds .

This is a complex issue and will require careful work if it is to be progressed successfully.  We will be having further discussion with the City of Sydney and the NSW Government to explore options for the Tramsheds site.

We will now send these principles formally to the City of Sydney and generally publicise them.  We expect the Council to exhibit its draft planning controls around September.  We will assess them against these principles and campaign for changes if the planning controls do not measure up to this community bottom line.

As we expect a lengthy campaign extending to the DA stage after the site is sold, and as many residents have indicated their interest in developing options for future uses of the Tramsheds, the Glebe Society will maintain a network sharing information and ideas for those who attended the public meeting – as well as of course its members.

– Lesley Lynch, April 2010

Resolution agreed at public meeting at St Scholastica’s, Glebe, 21 April, 2010

This public meeting of Annandale, Forest Lodge and Glebe residents rejects the proposal put forward by the Government Architect’s Office on 17 and 20 February, 2010, and requests a complete review of the controls for Harold Park implied in that proposal so that it includes the following objectives and related planning principles:

Objective One: Acceptable density and building height

Planning principles

1. Limit building to the height of the cliff face at any point, or, in the case of the perimeter, to the height of adjacent buildings (excluding the height of the cliff in the Crescent)

2. Reserve at least 35% of the site as publicly owned, formally dedicated Public Open Space managed by the City of Sydney Council. (The Tramsheds are not part of this 35%)

3. Limit population density to what can be accommodated by building to the reduced height on the remaining 65% of the site.

Objective two: Environmentally sustainable, high-quality design

Planning Principles

4. Make all development, including the renovated Tramsheds, sustainable and energy efficient, and protect privacy, views and amenity.

5. Build all dwellings outside the 100-year flood limit.

6. Restore the Heritage-listed Tramsheds and forecourt to include (for example) community uses, gardens and bird habitat. Any commercial/retail uses are to be small scale and in harmony with uses in Annandale and Glebe shopping strips.

7. Make provision for affordable housing.

8. Hold a design competition at the DA stage to ensure a creative, best practice, environmentally sustainable result. The judging panel is to include community representatives.

9. The Tramsheds- the heritage centrepiece of the site – are to be restored to public and community use by reimbursing the Pacing Club for money paid by them for its acquisition.

Objective three: Attractive, Usable Public Open Space

Planning principle

10. Design the 3.67 hectares (35% of the site) of Public Open Space to: visibly and coherently connect with other existing and proposed open space (including proposed open space on the Crescent and the Hill); be safe and secure; be sunny with minimal overshadowing, and to include active recreational areas (including an all purpose playing field)

Objective four: Safe, easy access, improved connections and minimised additional traffic impact on  surrounding streets

Planning principles

11. Vehicular access is to be via a reopened Canal Road and a new intersection at Minogue Crescent. Vehicular access is, under no circumstance, to be across parkland. Fully assess the wider traffic impacts, including the Wigram Road and Booth Street intersection in Annandale.

12. Improve connections with surrounding areas.

13. Encourage easy access for pedestrians and cyclists.

14. Provide adequate and appropriately located onsite parking, (including for bicycles) for residents and visitors to the site. Do not issue street parking permits to residents of the site.

15. Upgrade public transport, including access to light rail, and establish integrated ticketing.

This resolution will be forwarded to the City of Sydney Council immediately for consideration in the development of draft planning controls for Harold Park. We expect these planning controls to be publicly exhibited in September or soon thereafter. We will assess them against these community developed objectives and principles and respond appropriately.

Dr Lesley Lynch
The Glebe Society Inc
23 April 2010