News in May

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.