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).
There’s a lot about these issues in earlier News, and elsewhere on this site.