This section is a 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 documents .
Core documents: bad planning Vs visionary planning
Submissions to NSW Parliament on the two tunnels
Cammeraygal, a fascinating story
You can also find here the archived information, posts and documents that the Committee for North Sydney published from its inception in May 2018.
Fudging the facts on air quality
The NSW Chief Scientist commissioned a review of the impact of the Beaches Link on air quality. Carefully and guardedly written by independent and highly qualified scientists, it is a devastating critique of the Government’s honesty and rationale: just read the final paragraph.
Plain English version of the final paragraph: The Warringah Freeway is amongst the most polluted areas in Sydney. It is claimed that the project reduces air pollution. “This is only true if the predicted traffic reductions actually occur.” “It is reasonable to expect a high degree of additional demand induced by the project.” “The EIS does not explicitly indicate the sensitivity of the air quality impacts of the project on that induced demand, nor the magnitude of the potential error in predictions of traffic.”
Meaning: The traffic forecasts are dodgy and there’s no evidence that air pollution will diminish. The EIS cannot be believed. Read the report, and note the final paragraph: Independent air quality review of the Beaches Link EIS
Fudging the facts on water quality
Enormous concrete structures are intended to be placed in huge trenches dug in the harbour bed and across Flat Rock Creek Gully. An old contaminated tip site is intended to be dug up for a tunnel dive site.
How do we understand the implications if the formal government documents are not honest? It is shocking and unacceptable that Dr Bill Ryall has found that the WHT EIS is not scientifically credible. Read Dr Ryall’s full submission to the Beaches Link EIS here.
Fudging estimates of traffic congestion
The Planning Department (DPIE) commissioned an ‘independent review’ to critique what TfNSW wrote in the Beaches Link concerning ‘traffic and transport issues’. The Balgowlah Residents Group applied under GIPA to obtain the document.
For their ‘independent reviewer’ they chose the Bitzios transport planning consultancy. On the Bitzios website the firm’s ‘rapid growth’ is explained by a focus on solutions, on clients’ desires and on value for money. It is a remarkably frank statement that appears to mean:
“We work quickly and inexpensively to solve our clients’ problems by understanding what they want.”
You may now independently review the independent review and TfNSW’s responses: read it here. Or take our word for it:
Of the 66 relevant sections in the EIS, Bitzios commented on 42. Superficially it looks comprehensive.
Of course it is not comprehensive. Many of the 3000 EIS submissions found critical flaws, gaps and omissions in transport planning. Bitzios addresses only what is written in the EIS.
Bitzios asks questions, suggests clarifications, points to minor ambiguities, recommends extra modelling and calls for more data.
End result: TfNSW explains away every comment, often saying ‘It will be in the report on submissions’ or ‘We’ll do that at the time.’
In short, this is an example of lack of transparency, hidden policy making, bad planning, followed by token oversight.
Other core documents: bad planning Vs visionary planning
The Committee’s call to arms to Save Berry Street from its misuse as a freeway on-ramp and to restore its sole and proper function as a sunny, leafy, pedestrian-friendly city street.
The Committee’s assessment of the heritage significance of the former MLC Building at 105 Miller Street, North Sydney.
The Committee made influential submissions to the Independent Planning Commission on (1) the case for conservation (letter to the IPC), (2) The MLC Building in 2040, (3) The MLC Building Vs Alternatives and (4) The MLC Building Devalued (response to Investa’s submission to the Heritage Council). Read the combined document here.
The Committee’s integrated strategy for the North Sydney city centre, Five Big Ideas, July 2020 (and subsequent revisions).
The Committee’s submission on TfNSW’s grandiose landmark bike ramps (part of their ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge Cycleway Access Program’). We called for (and explained) an open, community design process to find an agreed solution. What’s the rush? It has been a long time coming, so let’s get it right.
Wollstonecraft Precinct Committee’s submission on Sydney Metro’s Crows Nest metro station development July 2018
Committee’s submission on the Concept State Significant DA for the Victoria Cross Metro over station development July 2018
Committee’s analysis of current city centre plans (‘Is this the future city centre?’)
Summary of ‘Is this the future of the city centre?’
Article by Jeremy Dawkins in SMH February 2019
UNSW article by Jeremy Dawkins on value capture March 2019
… and the items filed under the Issues tab: see list to the right ==>
Submissions to NSW Parliament
The Public Works Committee of the Legislative Council is conducting an Inquiry into the Impact of the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link. Submissions closed on 18 June 2021.
Submission of Committee for North Sydney
Submission of Wollstonecraft Precinct
Submission of Waverton Precinct
Submission of Edward Precinct
Submission of Bay Precinct
This is a succinct submission that should be of interest to the Public Works Committee. Here’s a taste, lightly edited, relating to the ‘consultation methods and effectiveness’ term of reference:
The consultation documentation is full of misleading language and diagrams. Important information, including the business case and design options, is not provided. The consultation documentation uses misleading language and diagrams, for example ‘freeway upgrade” instead of “motorway expansion”, traffic models called “do nothing & do something” rather than “without project & with project”. It’s an impact assessment that fails to present the impacts; for example, the motorway facility sheds are only shown in distant views and camouflaged green.
Submission of E J Nye and Associates
Ted Nye takes apart the EIS and gives strategic alternatives. He also shows through television news stories (Appendix C, p 22) why (i) accident-prone complexity and (ii) lack of alternative routes can both have dire consequences.
Submission by Dr Sid French (No 404)
Submission of Peter Egan (No 230 )
Submission of Genia McCaffery (No 146)
Submission by Dr Bill Ryall (No 448)
Submission of Hon David Kirby QC (No 155)
Submission of the NSW Auditor General (No 439)
The North Sydney Council has published an excellent summary of what is known about the North Sydney area as it was in 1788, about the people whose land it was (and ‘always will be’), and about the First Nations story since.
The monograph is Aboriginal North Sydney, by Dr Ian Hoskins, North Sydney Council Historian. It was first published in 2006, and updated in 2019. We make it available here.
The Committee for North Sydney recognises the land as that of Cammeray and his people (the meaning of Cammeraygal) and pays respect to Cammeray’s descendants and all First Nations people of the region.
Government plans and policies
North Sydney Council: Submission on the Beaches Link EIS March 2021
North Sydney Council: Report and submission on the Western Harbour Tunnel & Warringah Freeway Upgrade EIS, March 2020
North Sydney Council: Public domain strategy (Placebook brochure) 2019
North Sydney Council: Ward Street master plan 2019
North Sydney Council: Community Strategic Plan 2019
North Sydney Council: Placemaking policy 2019
North Sydney Council: Arts and cultural strategic plan 2019
North Sydney Council: Smart city strategy 2019
North Sydney Council: Visitor Economy Strategy 2019
North Sydney Council: Brief for Northern CBD Planning Study
North Sydney LEP 2013 (Amendment No 24) June 2019
North Sydney Council: North Sydney CBD Transport Masterplan 2018 [‘Draft’]
Greater Sydney Commission: North District Plan March 2018
North Sydney Council and Anson City Developers 1: Planning Agreement: Explanatory note
North Sydney Council: St Leonards Crows Nest Planning Study (precincts 2 and 3) 2015
Archived posts, documents and information
The Legislative Council’s Public Works Committee has now published all 576 submissions on the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link.
As in the case of the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link EISs, the submissions are overwhelmingly opposed.
Well done our community! These are rational, accurate, well-informed submissions, based on irrefutable evidence.
Over 500 high-quality submissions are opposed to the tunnels, for good social, environmental, economic reasons. See them here: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2767#tab-submissions.
The Facebook channel
Our Facebook page — not much more than a month old — is reaching 2000 people. OK, a lot of you don’t go near Facebook. And true, 2000 may not be a big population for the discussion of vital issues about the future of the North Sydney city centre. But these 2000 people are special: many are decision makers or connected to decision makers, or they’re active in their community and let the decision makers know what they think..
That’s enough for the decision makers to know that people care about these issues, and expect good planning and urban design. Our most widely shared post on Facebook was about the Chief Scientist’s submission to the Beaches Link EIS — expressing serious doubts about traffic forecasts and air quality predictions. Here’s the link. If you don’t look at Facebook, then here’s the link to the story on this website.
This community conversation matters. Please visit our Facebook page, #CteeNorthSydney. If you Like, Comment and above all Share to your network, you are sharing the facts, expanding the conversation and helping others join in.
What exactly is a “Say”?
What’s it worth?
How do you feel about “Have Your Say”?
The NSW Government wants you to Have Your Say. The North Sydney Council wants you to Have Your Say, again and again. When big issues are up for planning approval, Planning wants you to Have Your Say. TfNSW let you Have Your Say about the Bridge bike ramps.
Does it sound like “Have your say, and go away”?
Or “Have your say, it’s happening anyway”?
Most people might like to respond:
“I don’t want to Have My Say and go away. I want to know what and why. I want to be involved in deciding what should be done. I want the community to do part of the planning.
Save Berry Street!
North Sydney’s Combined Precincts Committee — representing all the Precincts of the city — met on 22 June 2021. The Committee discussed the impacts of the proposed Western Harbour and Beaches Link tunnels on the city centre, which is experiencing a massive growth in its day time population, and at the same time is supposed to accommodate massive flows of through traffic (as documented elsewhere on this website — see next item).
Reflecting growing alarm in the community about the flawed plans for the tunnels, the Combined Precincts Committee formally resolved to support the campaign to Save Berry Street.
Bad planning of tunnels a disaster for North Sydney city centre
The Committee for North Sydney made a submission to the Legislative Council’s Inquiry into the impact of the tunnels before the closing date of 18 June 2021. Read the submission here.
For a thorough assessment of the tunnels by a highly qualified engineer who designs road and rail tunnels — including a much more strategic alternative — see Ted Nye’s submission in our collection of submissions to the Legislative Council, here.
No Berry Street on-ramps? Who is adversely affected?
John Berry (@PriorityPrecinctResidents Group) agrees that the WHT and BL tunnels are detrimental, than asks: What is the alternative to the Berry St ramps and which community would it adversely impact?
ANSWER Direct access from the arterials (already connected to the freeway) should have been an essential part of the design. NOT including this access is what adversely affects everyone.
It should be:
region => arterials => tunnels.
Without direct access, it’s:
region => arterials => streets => city centre => Berry St => tunnels.
And that means more congestion everywhere and more rat-running…
MLC BUILDING IS LISTED — the city can build on this
Well done Minister Harwin, right call. In listing the MLC Building, at the urging of the Heritage Council and the Independent Planning Commission, the Minister delivered a win for the richness and diversity of the city centre, a win for the environment, a win for rational urban development and (implicitly) a win for the building owner.
An imaginative and high-quality development of the site, with a new Denison Street building making the most of the conserved Miller Street wing, will be an unmatched asset to the city’s sense of place, to its prestige, to its sustainability credentials, to its ability to attract creative and design professionals, and to the character of the heart of the city centre.
It just takes an ability to imagine this core of the city as it will be seen and valued in the future. This building can only grow in importance. Like a generation which was there when the building was built, many boomers want it gone. The younger and future generations will increasingly regard this building with affection and esteem. Its mid-century distinctiveness and its adaptable interiors will attract a rich mix of creative and design-oreiented enterprises that would not otherwise find a home in North Sydney, and this combination will make the space in front of the building (the whole of a humanised and greened Victoria Cross) the real heart of the city centre.
Heritage Council and the Independent Planning Commission toss out nonsense
Here’s the report of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) (click here).
It’s formal and polite, but not subtle. Presented by Investa with inflated refurbishment costs, specious arguments about the building being the only asset of the owner — a Canadian pension fund with assetss in many countries — dire predictions of losses (financial, structural, heritage signifcance, we could go on) the IPC dismissed them. It did no credit to Investa, who were representing the ultimate owner, Oxford Properties. (The report also deals unambiguously with nonsense coming from other quarters, as a scan of the report will show.)
Since Oxford have now taken over this arm of Investa we can expect a new more community oriented attitude. Oxford Properties invests on behalf of municipal employees in Ontario. Unlike the developers who are charging thorugh our cities with the active support of the NSW Government, Oxford Properties’ core principle is to ‘to deliver financial and social returns for our people, places and partners’: translated, this means that pension holders should benefit from the investments in city property, but so should the cities and communities where they invest, and so should the neighbours, tenants, building users and the people they work with to deliver the develoments.
A major news story about transport budgets
The Premier may be correct – the ‘Transport Asset Holding Entity’ is just the kind of accounting device beloved of merchant bankers – and we believe her, surely there was no intention to make billions disappear from the state budget.
The bigger story is something else
The NSW Government has discovered that Sydney can be managed (and sold) through ‘entities’.
Creating big, powerful, hybrid agencies is now an art form. After the Transport Asset Holding Entity came the WestConnex Delivery Authority, and then the big one, Sydney Metro.
The true ramifications of Sydney Metro are explored in our 2018 piece on the Issues page, click here.
In brief, around 2017 someone in government realised that ‘metro’ could mean a type of train, or it could mean the Sydney region. A body set up to build a metro rail service could become a developer with a mandate to buy, operate, build and sell anything in the region – so that is exactly what the Transport Administration Amendment (Sydney Metro) Act 2018 did. Not only that, the whole ‘entity’ was made to be sold off, in whole or in parts.
The beauty of this new kind of ‘entity’, Sydney Metro, was that it would be a state agency when it needed all the powers to act in ways that developers cannot, and the protections of a private developer when it wanted secrecy and the shield of ‘commercial-in-confidence’. We’ve seen both in play, when Sydney Metro’s public projects are fast tracked through the ‘planning system’, yet the all-important details of those projects remain as hidden as any private developer’s.
Now it’s happening with the Western Harbour and Beaches Link tunnels.
The projects are now in the hands of a government ‘entity’, the WestConnex Delivery Authority. This authority is subject to (belongs to) the Minister for Transport, who takes credit for its work. It exercises state powers that developers can only dream of. When its plans and actions become controversial, it turns into a corporation making purely technical and commercial decisions that the community is simply expected to live with, regardless. And like Sydney Metro, its assets are being readied for sale.
Update on decision-making for the MLC Building
The Independent Planning Commission has completed its review of the Heritage Council’s recommendation to list the MLC Building. The IPC provided its report to the Minister on 21 May 2021. The Act requires the Minister, Hon Don Harwin MLC, to decide within 14 days whether or not to direct the listing of the building. The Minister must make the Commission’s report publicly available after he makes this decision.
The Committee wrote to the Minister on 1 June 2021, to reinforce the weight of evidence about listing the building: financially, adaptive reuse beats redevelopment. It is also the only environmentally responsible course. As with the Sirius building in the Rocks, a clever mix of new and old would be a big win financially, environmentally, culturally and for the life and character of the heart of the city. Read the letter here.
The big news is that on 2 June 2021 Minister Harwin directed that the MLC Building be listed on the state register. Congratulations to all who fought for this decision. See News in June, above, for the latest.
Thinking about the future city centre
Glorietta is a new restaurant in North Sydney, occupying a purpose-built, light-filled space in 100 Mount Street, and serving great food. The owner, restaurateur Aaron Crinis, told the Mosman Daily (29.4.2021) about his hopes for the city centre.
I look forward to more retail coming into North Sydney CBD as the development continues. I would love for there to be a stronger weekend trade. I would love to see boutiques, book stores, food and specialty stores.
We’d add: cinemas, diverse spaces for the arts, community spaces, public spaces… The best hope for a shift in this direction will be if the MLC Building as added to the State Heritage Register and causes both the owner and the Council to recognise it as a uniquely valuable social, environmental and economic asset to the city — and to imaginatively bring the site to life.
But none of this will happen if the NSW Government continues to mis-use the streets of the city centre as a cheap-and-easy way for all local traffic to access their two proposed tunnels.
A green lung for North Sydney
Margaret Petrykowski AIA, a member of the Committee for North Sydney, submitted a bold proposal to the Planning Department and Committee for Sydney’s Public Spaces Ideas Competition.
Her project is to deck the Warringah Freeway and regrade the unusable landscape strip along Alfred Street between High Street and Mount Street to achieve a 1.5 ha addition to the public domain of North Sydney.
This park would be a ‘green lung’ for the city workers, students and the local community. The landscape platform would assist connectivity and aid walkability to the surrounding residential areas of Neutral Bay and Kirribilli.
The commercial and service apartment buildings along Alfred Street would be able to open cafes and eateries to the park and benefit from magnificent harbour views creating a much needed recreation hub for North Sydney. This project would significantly contribute to the transformation of North Sydney from a drab business centre with a very challenging pedestrian environment and enrich it with extensive high quality public domain, and cater for the recreation needs of future generations. See the before-and-after images here.
The good news:
New life for the MLC Building is life for the city centre
The Independent Planning Commission is preparing advice for Minister Don Harwin on his decision, due in May, to accept or reject the recommendation of the Heritage Council to list the MLC Building.
Experts and the Heritage Council agree: the building is ‘seminal’ and ‘iconic’, a ‘landmark in the International Modern movement in Australia.’ The Heritage Council made four significant findings.
- It is the ‘iconic Miller Street wing’ that has the greater significance.
- A major upgrade/refurbishment would not compromise its heritage significance.
- A reasonable or economic use of the building is possible based on economic analysis.
- Undue financial hardship to the beneficial owners has not been demonstrated
The more important issue is that the future of the Miller Street wing and the rest of the site cries out for imagination and vision, some creative thinking, some real city planning instead of helplessness or a short-term attitude of ‘let it rip’.
The Committee for North Sydney’s advice to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) pointed out the many ways in which this site will be an unmatched asset to the city’s sense of place, to its prestige, to its sustainability credentials, to its ability to attract creative and design professionals, and to the character of the heart of the city centre.
These assets are also assets for the owner. The site’s future value will be greater after ‘adaptive re-use’, with new spaces added behind the Miller Street wing and a rich intermix of new and old, than a new monster which is immediately dated. The Heritage Council pointed to this in the first two dot points above.
It just takes an ability to imagine this core of the city as it will be seen and valued in the future.
One of the Committee’s submissions did exactly that — you can read and download “The MLC Building in 2040“.
And read the Committee’s submissions — and all other submissions — on the IPC’s website, here.
The bad, bad news:
No action to stop the Berry Street on-ramps
Transport for NSW is committed to destroying the North Sydney city centre as a place for people. It can only be a place for cars. And vans and trucks and semis. And a terminus for regional buses. On-ramps to on-ramps to on-ramps.
Everywhere else, access to freeways and motorways is from major arterial roads. Interchanges between freeways and motorways are part of the roadworks and in the road reserves.
In North Sydney it’s different. We may be part of the GSC’s so-called “Harbour CBD”, but we’re expendable. For cars. For vans, trucks, etc…
The Committee for North Sydney is reaffirming its priorities in April. Top of the list is stopping the use of Berry Street as the single on-ramp to all freeways and motorways in the region.
We are actively asking the Council to step up and defend the city centre.
Equal top of the list: Publicising Five Big Ideas.
This strategy for the city centre got it right. The five big ideas form a single integrated strategy to save Berry Street as a pleasant city street, to keep traffic to arterial roads, to civilise Pacific Highway, to create (now) both a great civic space and a transport interchange in Miller Street, and to build a city hall and other public spaces into new buildings (like the one that will be part of the MLC site).
The Beaches Link is not popular
Submissions on the Beaches Link environmental impact statement (see News in January, below) closed on 1 March.
There are many impressive, comprehensive submissions, the result of collective effort, research and hard work, including submissions from many North Sydney precinct committees.
To find them, start here:
There are 1437 submissions from individuals, 95% opposing the project.
Amongst the 98 submissions from nongovernment organisations there are two from sports clubs benefitting from minor local open space improvements. The rest either make comments (a quarter of the submissions) or express objections (three quarters).
The submission of the Committee for North Sydney is here.
Deficiency in assessment of air quality
The NSW Chief Scientist commissioned an independent expert assessment of the impacts of the Beaches Link on air quality. The full report is on the DPIE planning portal — read it here. These are the main findings:
Overall, the project (as assessed) seems to deliver a small improvement in ambient air quality at a slight majority of receptors, and a slight worsening in air quality at a slight minority of receptors… The largest improvements in air quality appear to be associated with predicted reduction in traffic volumes along the Warringah Freeway… However, this is only true if the predicted traffic reductions actually occur… It is reasonable to expect a high degree of additional demand induced by the project, and the additional economic growth it is likely to enable. Whereas the EIS indicates that such induced traffic growth is included in the traffic modelling, the EIS does not explicitly indicate the sensitivity of the air quality impacts of the project on that induced demand, nor the magnitude of the potential error in predictions of traffic [emphasis added].
‘Assessment conclusions and equity issues’ in the NSW Chief Scientist’s Review of the Beaches Link EIS at https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/submission/783631
How credible is an environmental impact statement if it doesn’t adequately measure and explain its predictions of the actual traffic flows that pollute the air?
Heritage Minister and Heritage Council: well done!
The Committee for North Sydney wrote to Don Harwin, Minister for the Arts (and heritage), to offer many reasons why he should accept the advice of the Heritage Council and list the MLC Building. See the letter here. Heritage NSW has now advised us as follows.
“On 23 February 2021, the Minister considered the Heritage Council of NSW’s recommendation to list the building on the State Heritage Register and decided to refer the matter to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for review. The Minister also directed an Interim Heritage Order be placed over the MLC Building, North Sydney (former) for a period of up to 12 months to provide protection for the item while the IPC conducts its review. The Minister will make a decision on whether to list the item when he has received a report on the IPC’s findings.”
On 1 March the Heritage Council placed an Interim Heritage Order over the MLC building to protect it for the next 12 months.
Everyone who cares about the North Sydney city centre as a place for people needs to present to the Independent Planning Commission the facts and the reasons why the gross Investa proposal for the site should be rejected in favour of a much better future for the MLC Building and the city centre.
Make your Beaches Link submission
The environmental impact statement for the Beaches Link tunnels is a truly remarkable document.
(1) It’s big. The main report has 1400 pages. The appendices amount to 10,000 pages.
(2) Despite this complexity, community groups and individuals are doing their research and preparing comprehensive, well-argued submissions. To many, the EIS looks less like an objective assessment of impacts and more like a developer’s argument in favour of the project. Or even an investment adviser’s report on the merits of a big corporate deal.
(3) Thanks to the impressive and thorough work of the Edwards Precinct Committee and others, we are learning that the EIS isn’t concerned about global warming, doesn’t assess rail alternatives, doesn’t consider the cumulative and long term distortions of turning our major highways into private profit centres, doesn’t consider the impacts of intelligent electric vehicles, doesn’t consider the future of commuting in to offices in CBDs, and doesn’t do any financial or economic analysis.
Submissions close on 1 March 2021.
Delete the Berry Street on-ramp
The Committee for North Sydney wrote to the Mayor and Councillors of the North Sydney Council, encouraging them to read the Committee’s strategy for the North Sydney city centre, Five Big Ideas for the Future City Centre (read it here).
We encouraged the Councillors to join us in calling for the deletion of on-ramps to any future tunnels that used Berry Street, as we did previously, see News in July 2020.
“The city centre is immediately threatened by the misuse of Berry Street as an on-ramp for the Western Harbour Tunnel. The tunnel is regional infrastructure intended to help manage metropolitan road transport. It deliberately by-passes the Sydney city centre, but disrupts the North Sydney city centre.
“Obviously, the Western Harbour Tunnel should connect to expressways and arterials, not city streets. It should directly enable local and city centre improvements, not make the city centre worse. The Berry Street on-ramp is both bad planning and unnecessary.
“The tunnel, if it is built, can and should be built without the Berry Street on-ramp.
The case for listing the MLC Building
The Committee for North Sydney wrote to Don Harwin, Minister for the Arts (and heritage), to say that the Committee is ‘very pleased that the Heritage Council has recommended that an interim heritage order be placed on the MLC Building, to allow an expert and independent assessment to be made.’
The Committee enclosed our report on the cultural significance of the MLC, adding ‘We believe that the cultural significance of the building, for the many reasons outlined in the report, warrants its listing, and we urge you to accept the Heritage Council’s recommendation.
MLC Building moves towards heritage listing!
In the face of widespread and concerted calls for the protection of the MLC Building — following Investa’s DA to replace it with a massive sloping tower — the Heritage Council of NSW will ‘consider listing MLC Building, North Sydney on the State Heritage Register in acknowledgement of its heritage significance to the people of New South Wales.’
Read the Heritage Council’s statement here.
The Committee for North Sydney encourages everyone to make a submission in support of listing. Full information on the listing process and on making a submission is here.
(1) 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.
(2) 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.
By the end of the month, three decisions were announced that have major impacts on the North Sydney city centre, for good or ill. The most alarming was that the Western Harbour Tunnel was proceeding (see News in February 2020).
On 6 July 2020 the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Hon Rob Stokes MP, approved the Lendlease tower to be built above the Victoria Cross Metro station in North Sydney. On 7 July 2020, on behalf of Oxford Investa Property Partners, Bates Smart submitted a development application to demolish the locally-listed MLC Building and replace it with an office tower.
The Committee for North Sydney will respond in detail to these significant decisions. Of most concern is the fact that the Western Harbour Tunnel uses Berry Street as a quick-and-cheap on-ramp to the western harbour tunnel, for regional traffic travelling from the lower North Shore to everywhere south and west of the harbour. We should be remediating Berry Street, not making it even worse.
Remediation is the role of the Western Harbour Tunnel in relation to the Sydney CBD. Transport for NSW describes the tunnel as a ‘bypass of the Sydney CBD’.
In North Sydney it does the exact opposite!
The Berry Street on-ramp sucks regional traffic into the heart of the North Sydney CBD.
There are widespread accounts about corporate management adapting to their staff working from home, about people doing all kinds of work — administration, management, PR, customer relations, education and training, sales, media broadcasting, even the performing arts — from home, and much debate about whether this is momentary or more permanent. At the same time, the technology for all of this appears to have rapidly developed — or at least the take-up of the technology has accelerated remarkably.
If we have lept forward in terms of technology, in take-up, and in expectations, maybe there will be significant changes in the structure of the city region, and in particular in the role of CBDs.
Maybe North Sydney has seen the last of the gigantic office towers for a while. That could be something of a pity, in that we got so little from this wave of commercial development and might have hoped that newer office towers might actually contribute meaningful benefits to the city centre. It might also mean that office space might attract a lower premium, so that a building like Lendlease’s tower over the metro station might be better able to afford some significant public functions inside the building, such as a city hall.
The pandemic has unleashed intensive speculations and enquiries about how this experience will shape our understanding of urban economics and culture, and how it might affect the urban planning agenda into the future. There are already some interesting responses locally.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 8 May 2020 that “Local councils will be encouraged to widen walkways, close roads and create new cycle paths… Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the pandemic ‘has significantly increased the demand for more public spaces…’ “
On the same day the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Lord Mayor Clover Moore announced that the car-free zone on George Street will be extended, with footpaths widened and more trees planted (SMH 8.5.20 pp 1, 3).
The Committee for North Sydney says, “That’s exactly what the North Sydney city centre needs!”
We have cancelled the exciting public workshop that we were planning for the end of the month, and we are investigating other online forms of workshopping our ideas for the future of the North Sydney city centre.
Our positive, constructive approach to the future of the North Sydney city centre is expressed in “five big ideas”. We think it is possible, now, to create a grand civic space in front of the proposed tower above the Victoria Cross metro station at Miller and Berry.
All it takes — if Lendlease wants to contribute to the city centre instead of exploit it, and if the North Sydney Council is more flexible and strategic about public space — is that the two parking lanes in Miller Street are converted to people space, leaving two lanes of traffic (i) for essential buses and taxis (this is, after all, the public transport epicentre of the city), (ii) for service and delivery vehicles (at off-peak times) and (iii) for access to existing office loading bays and parking garages. Instead, the Council wants to remove not only the parking lanes but all vehicles. That’s not possible, and primarily disadvantages users of public transport and taxis.
Another element of our strategy is to calm the Pacific Highway. We recognise that it is part of the ‘ring of arterial roads’ that we have focused on — see ‘News in March’. Turning the Pacific Highway into an attractive and lively city boulevard has many elements, but an obvious goal is to civilise the vast area of bitumen and conflicting movements that is the five-way intersection called Victoria Cross. The diagram shows that half of that trafficked bitumen could be spaces for people and planting.
Members of the Committee for North Sydney are working on ideas for the North Sydney city centre. The Committee was formed to support good ideas and to work with governments and stakeholders on the long term transformation of the North Sydney city centre into a true hub for the community. The Committee can draw on great resources of expertise and creativity in the local community, and expects to develop positive proposals, leading to a comprehensive strategy for a genuine rejuvenation of North Sydney’s city centre.
Our recent work has focused on through-traffic. We discovered that a key characteristic of North Sydney is that it is surrounded by (and partly divided by) a ring of arterial roads. This ring of arterial roads is a major part of the problem, but our initial findings are that it could also be the key to transforming a ‘CBD’ into a living city centre.
The planned Western Harbour Tunnel
Does it matter?
The EIS for the Western Harbour Tunnel and the connections to the Beaches Link is on exhibition until 30 March 2020.
The breaking news is this: NSW transport planners want the
North Sydney city centre to be one big transport interchange.
RMS has a simple solution for regional transport. Route the traffic and buses through the streets of North Sydney. No-one will care, it’s already a mish-mash, and who’s going to demand a better deal for North Sydney?* Whatever the NSW Government does to the city, the Council says “We’re fine with that”.
Here is a short explainer on some of the impacts of the new tunnels on the North Sydney city centre. Please read it and get involved.
* The Committee for North Sydney is here for the long term, to demand better for North Sydney. Join us.
Crows Nest: ‘Change of tack’
Or change of tactics?
Sydney Metro was adamant. The metro station and the Over[Station]Development must be ‘integrated’.
We think that ‘integration’ suited Sydney Metro’s purposes. If it’s one ‘integrated’ project, Sydney Metro can stretch the station’s fast-track planning to the private towers above it.
Whatever the case, Sydney Metro has announced that the project is no longer ‘integrated’, in what the SMH called a change of tack due to intense community opposition.
In short, this was a major community victory. Read about it here – and also read about the battles to come.