This will be Berry Street

Berry Street is already a one-way on-ramp to the Warringah Freeway, north and south.

In a few years – if our popular and strenuous defence of the city centre is brushed aside by the road builders, the planners, the environmental, economic and social agencies, by the politicians and the courts – it will be the main on-ramp to the Western Harbour Tunnel, and by 2027 nearly all local traffic will be funnelled into this congested freeway on-ramp for the Beaches Link as well.

It doesn’t have to be like this!

The Committee for North Sydney has published a report showing the catastrophe that will be Berry Street. The report explains what is wrong with current transport plans for North Sydney, how it came to this, and what can be done.

In brief: Scrap the Berry Street on-ramps!

See what “integrated land use and transport planning” should look like, in our Issues article, Tale of two cities – in one CBD.

Improvement of North Sydney city centre depends on what happens to Berry Street
(It’s looking dire)

For the North Sydney Council, the future Berry Street is a traffic-calmed, pedestrian-friendly, leafy city street in the heart of a lively people-centred city.

For the state’s transport agencies, Berry Street is a one-way four-lane traffic sewer, a short-cut rat run to get regional and district traffic onto the bridge and into both the Western Harbour Tunnel and the Beaches Link tunnel.

Entry and exit for high-volume arterial highways should be via other arterials. That’s why Transport for NSW designed the Western Harbour Tunnel to avoid the Sydney CBD.

On the north side of the harbour, Transport for NSW took the cheapest and easiest way to access the tunnels: just treat the North Sydney city centre as a people-free transport interchange. Transport for NSW wants Berry Street to suck more and more traffic through the heart of the city centre.

In fact an interchange for all big arterials is being planned for the top of the hill. All Sydney Harbour Tunnel traffic already accesses the tunnel from this interchange.

This EIS map shows the proposed big roads on the North Shore. We’ve added the red circle at what we are calling the Northside Main Interchange. It’s where three tunnels (if they are built) will intersect with two freeways and three regional main roads, allowing all traffic to access all routes in all directions — enabling the Berry Street on-ramps to be deleted.

None of this is addressed in the EIS.

The most important issue for North Sydney — the impact of Berry Street as the principal northside on-ramp — doesn’t get a mention!.

Nor do road and rail alternatives, smart electric vehicles, changing commuting patterns, global warming and much else — see our news items at News in December, News in January and News in March.

Who is speaking up for the issues that really matter? And for the issues that will determine the future of the North Sydney city centre?

We’ve examined the plans for the two new tunnels and outlined the alternatives in a recent article in our Issues collection.

We call on everyone with an interest in North Sydney to join us in one clear demand. Design that main interchange to enable all traffic to access the new tunnels, and scrap the on-ramp at Berry Street.

A strategy for the whole city centre

The Committee for North Sydney has completed a strategic planning document called Five Big Ideas for the Future City Centre.

The strategy presents a long-term vision for the city centre, based on five integrated ideas. The five ideas work together, to guide the city towards a transformation from ‘an office park with through traffic’ to a living ‘place for people’. Read and download the strategy here.

The Committee for North Sydney supports the North Sydney Council in planning more improvements to the city centre, and invites all those with an interest in North Sydney to work together to fight for a better future.

Save the MLC Building

Familiarity engenders neglect and forgetfulness?

The MLC was THE pioneer in so many ways. If it is swept aside (to make room for a new building (widely panned by urbanists) it takes with it markers, symbols, records and memories that form an intrinsic part of the Australian story. Besides, for many, it WORKS. It looks good. It is well behaved. It plays an important role in defining the city centre.

Geoff Hanmer, President of the Association for the Committee for North Sydney, has assessed the significance of the MLC Building.

Read and download the document here.

And read the latest news in News in February and earlier news items.

The big picture

The Committee for North Sydney is focused on the long-term public good. We think that this involves open, inclusive planning that identifies goals for the city, and sticks to them.

As Elizabeth Farrelly said at our October AGM:

The Committee for North Sydney is focused on the big issues:

    • What drives the OVERdevelopment of St Leonards and Crows Nest — and how to stop it.
    • Why the city centre (already bleak, windy and congested) is losing, rather than gaining, public space and civic functions — and how to do better.
    • The importance of North Sydney making the transition from a business district (CBD) to a well-loved city centre — a goal supported by the community, by those who work in the city, and by business.

We’ve kept to that focus during the past few months – please take a look at our NEWS page.

We’ve had a well-attended AGM and a productive planning workshop. We’re actively planning our program for 2020.

It’s all about supporting good planning for North Sydney, and finding ways to work with the community and decision makers (state, local and business) towards much better outcomes.

Stay in touch

The Committee for North Sydney would like to hear from you, and to keep you informed of issues and events.

Please let us know what you think — just click on our email address:

Or subscribe to the mailing list by sending us your email here.

Better still: join us

We’re building support from the North Sydney community. The Association for the Committee for North Sydney is currently asking members to renew their annual membership, and encouraging members of the community to join the Association. Here’s the link.

Read all about it!

We’ve gathered together an informal library of documents, including links to documents produced by the Committee for North Sydney, planning documents produced by the North Sydney Council, and other relevant reports, articles and statements. You’ll find it here.

Reforming planning — we’re all for it!

The NSW planning system needs long-term reform, back towards the rule of law — less political, less litigious, less impenetrable — and towards open and expert assessment of explicit rules adopted through transparent public processes. It’s nothing like that at the moment.

The problem is… it’s not so easy, and when governments say that overnight they’ll make the planning system “quick and simple” they may be avoiding the core issues.

Historians have failed to explain to us that NSW’s only coup was when Governor Bligh was arrested because he insisted on adherence to a town plan! Ever since, the arm-wrestle between government and landowners has followed a predictable course.

The latest installment is to make approvals “quick and simple”. Despite (or because of?) the recent reforms, we are told that approvals are still slow, and nimbys still have too much influence. So, if investors still lack certainty, let’s make approvals quick and simple.

You’ve seen the announcements. Here is a brief paper on what it is about. And here is an even briefer version to fit into a confined space in the SMH.

Busting congestion? Try planning

Spot rezoning, deals, fast tracking, OVERdevelopment… Is congestion and loss of urban quality inevitable? Yes, on present indications. But not if transparency, probity and expertise is restored to the planning system.

Developers wake from dreams in St Leonards

The residents said OVERdevelopment – we’re OVER it!
The Independent Planning Commission agreed!
Is this the turning point?
Read about the details of this important decision here.

Have you heard about ‘value capture’?

It must sound good — Sydney Metro and Ministers are beginning to talk about ‘value capture’ a lot — but is it good for the North Sydney city centre? The answer to that question is here.

“Nobody has ever cared much about the North Sydney CBD and it’s always been a very deficient CBD in terms of public amenities and open space, public facilities, out-of-hours activities… What you’re hearing about improving the North Sydney CBD is basically just spin, and it’s minor, fiddly little improvements to what is basically a pretty appalling CBD… “

That’s not the Committee for North Sydney!

And it wasn’t said yesterday.

Jeremy Bingham, lawyer and one-time Lord Mayor of Sydney, made that statement in 2000, in an interview for the Council’s published history of North Sydney planning, marking 35 years after the adoption of the 1963 planning scheme. He went on:

“It has no heart. It has no central point. It has no civic spaces. It has no style. It’s a mish-mash. It’s a conglomerate of all sorts of things… You’ve got a whole series of half-baked things. And the flow of morning and evening peak hour traffic through there makes it a very difficult area… It just hasn’t had anything remotely like the level of planning and care and attention over the decades that it should have had…

“I don’t see the concern for the proper growth of a city, commercially, as being contrary to a concern for the residents as well. I think they go hand in hand.”

The full interview – ‘Jeremy Bingham’ in Margaret Park (Editor). Voices of a landscape: planning North Sydney. North Sydney Council, 2001, pages 14-17 – is available here (and in the North Sydney Council’s Stanton Library).

The Sydney Morning Herald covered the launch of the Committee for North Sydney

Senior journalist Jacob Saulwick reported on the launch of the Committee for North Sydney on 11 July 2018.

His insightful article was published online on Thursday 12 July 2018, and on pages 1 and 4 of the next day’s edition of the paper.

Here’s the link to the online story.


North Sydney Council called for alternative design options and community engagement

In a major move, the North Sydney Council has written to the Minister for Transport, calling for alternative design options for the over station development at Victoria Cross station, and further community engagement. The resolution adopted all-but-unanimously by the Council can be seen here.

How the Committee for North Sydney sees the future city centre

Thanks, Greg Hyde

The image at the top of the page — used in various forms on our publications — is a modified detail from ‘Sydney’, a large work by onetime-North-Sydney artist Greg Hyde. Thanks Greg for your support.

Thanks Friendlyware

Ralf Alpert, Waverton Precinct member and Founder and MD of  Waverton’s well-named Friendlyware, has been instrumental in getting us online. Friendlyware is a top-rated IT support company for Sydney’s small and medium businesses. Thanks Ralf!