In June 2009 the City of Sydney decided the rezoning and development of panning controls for Harold Park would be done through a site specific plan. A specific LEP and DCP will be prepared and the city planners expect the process to take at least 12 months.
The Glebe Society met with Council planning officers in July and presented some preliminary views on acceptable planning principles which had emerged from discussions within the society and with interested locals. A summary of these is reprinted below.
At the meeting we specifically requested the planned technical studies be extended to include:
§ the issue of the track overhang of the canal. This is important to allow reopening of the canal access road;
§ a contamination report on the area between the light rail station and the Tramsheds. This is important for improved public transport access and,
§ a report on the feasibility of providing underground parking.
The Society supported biodiversity to be developed on the site. The areas around the Tramsheds and along the canal are especially suited for a biodiversity program. (Sydney University also previously raised the possibility of reinstating the creek to replace the canal.)
The Society expressed the view that the Tramsheds should be dealt with separately, with the focus on restoration for community use.
The Society asked for a wide variety of housing options to be canvassed because of the size of the site, which allows for variation in size and design. The site also has advantages because of its orientation and views, and is capable of answering many different community needs. These different needs should, however, be integrated to encourage interaction, but also be sufficiently separated to avoid problems of congregating.
The Society stressed the need to minimize impacts on surrounding resident, especially by controlling filtering of traffic into residential streets, and the need to provide benefits for surrounding residents as well as those on the site.
The Society emphasized the need to include Leichhardt Council and the residents of Annandale in these early consultations, and the planners agreed. These consultations are in addition to the formal exhibition period for the draft LEP, which gives residents a further opportunity to comment.
Summary of Glebe Society Preliminary Proposals for the Harold Park Site
Agreed that conservation of the Tramsheds is a major priority. It may be best to deal with them as a separate site, as in the City’s Urban Design Study. The trams in situ should be restored, and there should be interpretation of the site displayed.
Agreed Tramsheds are best suited to community uses. The cost of restoration meant services for the wider community, such as police and RTA, and also neighbourhood business, may need to be incorporated. The large area meant artists’ studios and performance space could be included. The space in front of the Sheds was suitable for related outdoor activities.
Agreed the Ross Street row of federation semis, no longer owned by the Club, should be preserved.
Open Space
Noted that an all-weather hockey field, previously promised but not delivered, did not have to be located at ground level as the surface is artificial. The land between carpet warehouse and viaduct is now owned by City and proposed for parkland, and additional open space was required for new residents on Paceway site as well as existing ones.
Agreed the paceway overhanging the canal should be demolished, and an open space corridor along the canal created including the area affected by 100 year flood.
Noted the site has good public transport connections (3 bus routes, light rail) but access and frequency, including pedestrian and cycle, needed upgrading especially near the Hill adjacent to the light rail station.
Agreed vehicular access should be via Ross Street from Wigram Road and via a reopened Canal Road (originally tramway) from The Crescent. Existing access across the park should be curtailed. Maxwell Road should be pedestrian and cycle access only, except for future dwellings to be constructed along Maxwell Road near the top of the escarpment.
Agreed the Ross Street corridor be upgraded for bikes and pedestrians to connect to shops and SU, and access to light rail needed to be more direct than recent disabled path.
Paceway and Housing
Agreed There should be a variety of housing types and sizes. Over-development on the Children’s Hospital model was specifically rejected. All development should be sustainable and energy efficient.
It was noted that University of Sydney had previously expressed interest in the site.
Agreed student housing was desirable, as it generated least traffic. Seniors housing, especially along the community integrated lines developed by the Benevolent Society, was also suitable. These and other forms of affordable housing could easily be incorporated because of the size of the site and good access. Design should ensure privacy but also encourage integration, especially in public spaces.
Agreed density of housing could be different from surrounding area in part: height could exceed existing controls along escarpment. However, building should not extend higher than the top of the escarpment, or impede views or impair amenity of existing residents at the top of the escarpment. Elsewhere on the site building heights should respect contours and orientation of surrounding area, reducing to 1 or 2 stories adjacent to Wigram Road and the Crescent.
Infrastructure and parking
We do not have sufficient information about utilities and services on the site, and nature of the ground, to make specific judgments about parking etc. Will need to ask the City to provide appropriate details and how these will affect development. However, there appears to be a rise in level toward the escarpment making this area safe from inundation, and excavation may allow some parking to be located underground. At least one space per dwelling. Visitor parking should be located on site and be adequate.
The combined development sites are by far the largest in Glebe and the effects must be carefully managed.
It is essential that the views of residents are widely and actively canvassed. The views and cooperation of Leichhardt Municipality, especially Annandale, should be sought in addition to those of Forest Lodge and Glebe. The plans should be exhibited at several centres for at least a month and the entire area letterboxed, and community forums held. An interactive website would encourage resident feedback.