News in August

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:

News in July

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.”

News in June

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…

DOWNLOAD our latest flyer HERE.

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.

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.

News in April

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.

News in March

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

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?

News in February

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.

News in January

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.

News in December 2020

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.

We said:

“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.”

News in November 2020

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.’

News in September 2020

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.

News in August 2020

(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.

News in July 2020

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.

News in June 2020

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.

News in May 2020

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!”

News in April 2020

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.

News in March 2020

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.

News in February 2020

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.

News in January 2020

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.

News in December 2019

Ray Martin will chair the Committee for North Sydney

Ray Martin AM

The Board is delighted to announce that Ray Martin, a North Sydney resident for three decades and a passionate believer in high quality city planning, design and government, has accepted our invitation to chair the Committee for North Sydney.

At his first meeting with the Committee, Ray said that the construction of the metro station in Miller Street offers a window of opportunity to create a great central civic place, that can immediately improve the city centre and benefit the North Sydney community.

Successful roundtable on big planning issues

Members of the Committee for North Sydney spent the afternoon of Saturday 7 December focusing intently on two questions: What makes North Sydney North Sydney? and What are the attributes of a good city centre?

What emerged from the session were some real insights into the key issues, some great ideas, and some radical but practical proposals.

A report of the roundtable was discussed — and acted on — at the December meeting of the Committee for North Sydney. Watch for announcements in the new year.

News in November 2019

Decision time

The Association President and Committee Convenor had a second meeting with the Planning Minister’s senior policy staff on 26 November, to explain how a high quality civic space can be achieved in front of the Victoria Cross metro station (under construction).

In a subsequent letter to Planning Minister Stokes – also Minister for Public Spaces – the Committee said the choice is between a commercial office tower with overcrowded private space outside and no public purpose inside, or a significant contribution to the emerging heart of the North Sydney city centre.

We proposed to the Minister that ‘representatives of DPE Public Spaces, Sydney Metro, RMS, North Sydney Council, Lendlease and the Committee for North Sydney confer and report back to you on options for creating the best possible legacy for the Metro in North Sydney.’

Another round of ‘reform’

On 27 November the NSW Government announced new reforms for planning. Despite recent and recurrent efforts by both sides of politics to simplify the planning and approval process, it seems that approvals are still too slow, and nimbys still have too much influence.

Jeremy Dawkins wrote a brief paper on what this is all about. And here is the short version, published in the SMH on 29 November.

News in October 2019

From strength to strength

The Association for the Committee for North Sydney held an open AGM on Wednesday night 31 October in the Crows Nest Centre, attended by 92 members and friends, and characterised by lively discussions supporting the role of the Committee. We thank all those who made donations at the door, amounting to $650.

Denis Moore demonstrated how the Pacific Highway in Crows Nest can be progressively transformed into a grander, much denser boulevard consistent with the great urban qualities of Crows Nest — before we lose the lot from unplanned spot-zoned skyscrapers.

Elizabeth Farrelly gave an insightful, witty and thought-provoking address on ‘the value of city planning’. Quote: ‘So what is planning actually for?…It seems to me that planning has one job: to defend the public interest (and so to value and create the public spaces).’

A new Board

Geoff Hanmer

Our foundation President, Ian Grey, did a fantastic job in establishing the Association as a permanent, positive, grass-roots player in shaping the future of North Sydney, but explained to the AGM that he now needed to pass on the baton. Elected to the Board were:
President: Geoff Hanmer
Vice President: Margaret Petrykowski
Secretary: Bernard Smith
Treasurer: John Hancox
Board members: Jeremy Dawkins, Genia McCaffery and Jan McCredie.

Joining is easy

It is easy to renew your membership of the Association, and just as easy to become a fully paid-up and active member. Simply click the ‘Pay with Card’ button at the bottom of the Join page.

Unregulated residential construction

In the face of widespread construction failures, Committee member Geoff Hanmer, in an op-ed in the SMH, explains how to ensure that residential buildings are well built, from the outset.

What does intelligent mobility add to sustainablilty?

Committee member Professor David Hensher hosts an important meeting exploring how to ensure that travel in the city region – urban mobility – is intelligent, user-focused, integrated, efficient and sustainable.

We finally know what Lendlease wants to build for their $200M site

Lendlease’s planning application for the Victoria Cross metro station site takes the form of an environmental impact statement. The document, prepared by Urbis consultants, has 159 pages and 35 appendices. The EIS is on exhibition during November and the Committee for North Sydney will be examining it closely during that time.

Plan with the community

Will the tsunami of massive buildings in Crows Nest and St Leonards facilitated through spot rezonings — and accelerated by the exploitation of metro station sites by Sydney Metro — inevitably lead to our familiar streets becoming windy, overshadowed, congested canyons?

In a recent article, Elizabeth Farrelly disagrees that height, density and population are the key problems in our congested cities, pointing out that there are much bigger, denser and more populous cities than ours that are exhilarating places to be.

To many members of the Committee for North Sydney this means that, if decision makers are not blinded by private wealth and seduced by monstrous structures, big populations, high densities and tall buildings can generate exciting, attractive urban environments – but only under conditions of openness, involvement, continuous debate about long term options, integrity in the planning system, and a highly skilled and respected bureaucracy (these are what the Committee was formed to support).

Equally, high densities and tall buildings – over-development – will surely destroy valued places under conditions of deregulation, secrecy, deal-making, fast-tracking, and expertise-denialism.

Elizabeth Farrelly nails it with her usual precision: ‘[C]ongestion isn’t about too many people, or even too little infrastructure. It’s about near-total absence of planning’ (‘There’s a con in congestion: it’s not caused by what you think it is’, SMH 17 August 2019).

There has been plenty of planning around St Leonards. So why does development still happen through spot rezoning and the obscure semantics of planning instruments?

Why do the North Sydney Council’s efforts to guide development seem so fragmented and one-off?

How can the community — and the Committee for North Sydney — overcome the systemic barriers to participation and engagement with planning?

Saved from overdevelopment: the full story

The local website In the Cove (ITC) has a highly readable account of how massive overdevelopment was stopped in St Leonards South by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) — the planning manoeuvres, the Council’s acquiescence, and the sustained and well-informed resistance organised by a number of local groups.

We now know that without the community action, the rules, standards and ‘visions’ of the planning system would have counted for nothing, simply because the developers had unconstrained ambitions.

Read the excellent ITC article here.

Overdevelopment rejected in ‘St Leonards South’

Resident groups campaigning on ‘OVERdevelopment – we’re OVER it!’ had a big victory when the Independent Planning Commission — which spent a day (20 May 2019) listening to well prepared submissions by residents — actually compared the official planning ‘Vision’ with the reality of developers’ dreams.

It has been a long campaign against the expectations of developers that planning ‘visions’ are just words when it comes to proposals for massive residential development. Some of that campaign can be seen lower on this page (or click here). Developers’ dreams seem to be encouraged by planners and politicians at the state and local levels — but they don’t necessarily come true.

The IPC’s role is to give advice to the Minister for Planning and Places. Its full report is here. The IPC’s advice is clear and direct, as these three extracts show.

  • 36 …The Commission is therefore not satisfied that the planning proposal would deliver enough public open space to provide “sunny tree-lined public spaces” and “lively and active streets”, which
    are elements of the Vision.
  • 150 …the Commission considers the scale of residential development in Council’s planning proposal would represent an overdevelopment of the site.
  • 155 The Commission considers that no rezoning of the site is required to meet the GSC’s current housing targets under its North District Plan as the housing targets are currently likely to be exceeded without the proposed delivery of a further 2,400 dwellings.

The report in the Sydney Morning Herald is here.

So nothing has changed

In February the Mayor wrote to the Committee for North Sydney. To ask us to contribute to important discussions? To invite us to meet with the planners or Councillors? No. The letter accused the Committee of ‘constant negative dialogue and distribution of misinformation’ and, in effect, demanded that we prove we are not a ‘political activist group’. In short, ‘Go away!’ The Committee issued a statement in response: see the next item.

     It is time for the Mayor to genuinely welcome informed and considered contributions to the long term planning and development of the city centre.

The Committee for North Sydney responds to recent comments by the Mayor of North Sydney.
Read the Committee’s STATEMENT of 20 February 2019

The Committee for North Sydney has written
to the Premier
and to the Sydney Morning Herald

The Committee for North Sydney has analysed two planning reports from the North Sydney Council.
They had clear objectives — and proved exactly the opposite.
They avoided key topics — only to draw attention to them.
Read our analysis here.

On behalf of the “OVERdevelopment — we’re OVER it!” organisers:

On 10 November 2018
800 people told the NSW Government:

OVERdevelopment- we’re OVER it!

SAY IT AGAIN! – ON 23 FebruaryDownload the flyer here

WARNING:  Tsunami headed for North Sydney and Crows Nest!

Download the flyer here

What is behind the tsunami?  Sydney Metro!

Read the truth about this seemingly benign rail agency.

Download the Sydney Metro information sheet here.

The North Sydney city centre is at a turning point

The North Sydney city centre is  growing rapidly – but at what cost?

It’s a convenient location for accommodating regional jobs and denser housing – but is this at the expense of being a good local city centre?

All of the challenges facing the city centre – leading to windy, sunless, congested streets and footpaths – are becoming greater.

All of the recognised deficiencies – lack of public spaces, lack of civic functions, lack of things to do and places to be in – seem to be more pronounced.

The Committee for North Sydney has produced a summary of the challenges and possibilities:

Strategic directions for North Sydney city centre.

The Committee for North Sydney’s most recent submission to Sydney Metro exposes drastic flaws in planning and consultation for the Metro stations at North Sydney city centre and Crows Nest:

The agencies of Transport for NSW, including Sydney Metro, have responsibilities to create value, not just to capture value.

Jeremy Bingham said it’s a mish-mash

“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… “

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).

Premier, your choice

Shortly before Christmas, the Committee for North Sydney wrote to the Premier warning that a rushed decision on the Victoria Cross metro site would have profound implications for the future of the city centre.

Two North Sydney Council studies have tacitly confirmed that this is the only site where a “wide, level, sheltered, sunny civic space is even possible.”

The choice is between launching the transformation of the North Sydney city centre into something worthy of “global Sydney”, or permanently blocking it.

The choice is between “value extraction” and “value creation”.

Read the letter here.

Postscript: That same day, Sydney Metro announced that they had sold the site to Lendlease for $200 million for a forty-storey commercial tower — that’s the price for choosing a seriously impaired business district over an improving city centre.

Is this the future?

The North Sydney Council has released two planning studies concerned with civic spaces and functions in the city centre.

It’s a mixture of good news and bad news. Actually, more of the latter.

The studies were carried out by expert consultancies, apparently under severe constraints.

How else can we explain why these two glossy reports — to improve the pedestrian experience in the North Sydney city centre — don’t mention sunlight, or wind, or slope, or the impacts (and opportunities) of the metro, or the dire effects of traffic generated by the proposed road tunnels?

You can read our analysis, and access the reports, here.

Who said that?

“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.

For the NSW Government, the North Sydney city centre is just highways

1   Giant buildings in city centres generate a lot of movement. If Sydney Metro’s massive tower were to be built (it won’t be), together with very big buildings almost adjacent in Denison and Mount Streets, there will be a lot more traffic, and maybe ten thousand extra pedestrians with nil additional space for them.

But worse is planned.

2   If the western harbour tunnel is built (it shouldn’t be) it delivers traffic from the other side of the harbour onto Falcon Street, which appears to be the only off ramp in this area. But it also attracts a lot of new traffic into the centre of the North Sydney city centre! To head south under the harbour, or north to the M2 or the Beaches Link, you have to use Berry Street. Already a traffic sewer, Berry Street is the new tunnel’s only on ramp for cars, trucks and buses heading north and south. Write off that part of the city centre.

3   None of this is explained in the RMS’s thick glossy brochures on the tunnel and the link. Berry Street is studiously not mentioned. All we have to go on is a small map.

4   And all that traffic travelling south from the peninsula to North Sydney? No mention of that either. In the road sign on the map above, it is apparent that peninsular traffic can exit into North Sydney – but there’s  no indication how this happens, and whether that traffic also finds its way into the city centre, already just an ‘office park with through traffic’.

We need help to understand (and resist) what is coming to the city centre with the western harbour tunnel.

Transport planners, insiders, researchers – please help the Committee for North Sydney analyse and publicise what the RMS has in mind for us, and what we can do about it.

Write to us at

Sydney Metro: high-handed high rise!

On 1 July 2018 a unique NSW agency was born.

Sydney Metro, previously a project management office in Transport for NSW, acquired extraordinary powers by amendment of the Transport Administration Act.

(Creating a big, powerful urban corporation is transport administration?)

Sydney Metro is Jekyll and Hyde:

  • public transport engineer – and profit driven entrepreneur
  • place maker – yet it’s a PR machine loose with the facts
  • custodian of civic spaces – and terminator of them
  • builder of public works on public land – a and fast-tracked commercial developer
  • builder of state significant development – and promoter of private towers claiming the same privileges
  • a state agency that ‘helps create vibrant places and communities’ – yet its deals are secret, they’re ‘commercial in confidence’.

That explains why ‘over station development’ is really ‘over development’.

Sydney Metro: time to create value, not just capture value!

Read about the government’s big plans for Sydney Metro.

Read about what’s happening to Crows Nest.

Get involved!

Local paper has minister ‘shutting down’ the council

At its last meeting the North Sydney Council unanimously resolved to ask the Minister for Planning for a moratorium on residential rezoning – but before the Council could do so the Mosman Daily let them know that the Minister says it’s not on!

The direct intervention of the ‘creative news’ local paper risks confusing the simple and urgent issue of a ‘pause’ in Sydney Metro’s premature and secret deals with developers.

The full story is told here.

And the article in the Mosman Daily is here.

It comes down to this:

When the Mayor meets with the Minister to tell him that more residential rezoning ‘will be become a hot issue at the upcoming state election’, we have to hope that she finds the time to convince him that Sydney Metro’s high-handed high-rise will be an even hotter issue at the election.

What’s behind Sydney Metro’s impact on North Sydney and Crows Nest?

Sydney Metro is a new kind of quango, combining the private developer’s single-minded pursuit of maximum development with the privileges, protections and short cuts available to state agencies.

A recent paper explains why Sydney Metro’s cavalier approach in North Sydney and Crows Nest will be increasingly condemned, and why it must be — and will be — strenuously resisted by the North Sydney community.

Read the paper here.

Download a pdf file of the paper here.

Let the politicians know what you think of these things, by sending a short email to the people on this contact list.

Mayor talks to Premier—about what?

Following the Council’s unanimous decision to write urgently to the Premier and Ministers for Planning and Transport, calling for a pause in Sydney Metro’s rush to lock in towers above its stations, Mayor Jilly Gibson was to have an outdoor meeting with the Premier on her Friday visit to the area.

The Council’s 30 July decision, supported by the Mayor, is reported in the most recent post, below.

According to an article in the Mosman Daily of 9 August, the Mayor’s agenda included, rightly, filtering the road tunnel stacks, compensation for tunnel disruptions, more open space, the closure of central Miller Street, and the undergrounding of the Berry ramp to the road tunnel. The Mayor told the Mosman Daily that she wants a ‘skypark’ on the roof of the 42-storey tower over the Victoria Cross station (notwithstanding the Council’s unanimous decision not to support Sydney Metro’s tower).

Surprisingly, there was no mention of asking the Premier for a pause in Sydney Metro’s fast-track process avoiding consultation and planning assessment.  Jeremy Dawkins, convenor of the Committee for Sydney, emailed Jilly, saying that the community would expect her to make a big issue of the Council’s unanimous resolutions at the last two meetings.

See the recent post, below, and the Mosman Daily article.

Council again unanimously calls for rethink

The North Sydney Council has again called for a halt in Sydney Metro’s unconstrained rush to lock in high-rise towers over its stations in North Sydney city centre and Crows Nest.

At its meeting on 30 July, the Council considered a staff report on Sydney Metro’s proposals for towers above the Crows Nest metro station. The report pointed out many concerns with the proposal.

The Council strengthened the conclusions of the report, and unanimously resolved:

THAT Council urgently write to the Ministers for Transport and Planning and the Premier seeking an urgent pause to this process and that Sydney Metro be directed to prepare a Masterplan for the site in collaboration with Council and the community in order to guide future development above the Metro station and to ensure the provision of community benefits on the site.

The Council’s full resolution can be read here.

The Mosman Daily reported on the Council’s decision on 9 August 2018. The article by Matt Taylor is here.

Please send your own message to the Premier, the Ministers and Sydney Metro using this contact list.

And you can commend the councillors that voted for the resolution — that’s all of those present on the night — using the same contact list.

Major statement on CROWS NEST by the Committee for North Sydney

In response to Sydney Metro’s efforts at ‘Early Community Engagement’ — after they have decided on the fate of Crows Nest — the Committee for North Sydney delivered to Sydney Metro, local members of Parliament, the Mayor and Councillors a clear statement about obvious conflicts of interest and other serious flaws in planning, transparency and governance in Sydney Metro’s attempts to lock in massive commercial development over both stations in the North Sydney city centre and Crows Nest, by avoiding normal, independent planning assessments.

The Committee for North Sydney condemned Sydney Metro’s truncated consultation and approval processes, warning that this approach ‘will generate anger, not agreement.’

Pointing out that the Government has just established an investigation into the corruption of planning approval processes and ‘decision-making governance’, the Committee for North Sydney said, ‘It is inevitable that the community will ask similar questions about Sydney Metro’s use of confidentiality and premature tenders to circumvent independent assessment.’

Read the statement here.

Reply to the Mosman Daily

On 18 July 2018 the Mosman Daily covered the launch of the Committee for North Sydney, interviewing Ian Grey at length. The story is here, as it appeared on the Daily Telegraph online (subscription).

They also took the opportunity to let Sydney Metro ‘explain’ what they had in mind for the city centre and Crows Nest. Their renderings were intentionally out of date – there’s no indication of the building cantilevering out to the property line in Miller Street, and there’s the deliberate omission of outside walls at ground-level, to suggest a public space. As a result, the paper said that one of the images showed ‘outdoor dining’ when there is no such thing. The paper also seemed to think it nice of Sydney Metro (a government agency) to release images of 27-storey buildings in Crows Nest, calling it a ‘sneak preview’!!

Margaret Petrykowski put them straight in a letter in the following week’s issue (26 July 2018, page 26). Thanks, Margaret!

Crows Nest ‘over-station-development’ — Residents say it’s over-development

There was standing room only when 90 residents met to consider the Sydney Metro Over Station Development at Crows Nest.

Sydney Metro is seeking feedback on its chosen development — it somehow thinks of this as ‘Early Community Engagement’.

Residents voted unanimously against the inclusion of two 27 storey apartment blocks and against the exclusion of public amenity on the site above the station.

Wollstonecraft Precinct Chair John Hancox advised the meeting that feedback will be lodged by the closing date of 29 July, and urged those present to write to Sydney Metro. He said, ‘The community is expecting that Sydney Metro will take note and modify its proposal before lodging an EIS.’

Catch up with the latest on the Crows Nest page.

It’s a similar story in the North Sydney city centre —

Committee for North Sydney LAUNCHED!

Committee members and supporters gathered on the grassed area in front of the MLC Building in Miller Street, North Sydney, for the public launch of the Committee on 11 July 2018.

It’s quite a symbolic area: in front of the locally-listed MLC Building (1957, 14 storeys), on the 13 m forecourt, now possibly the best public open space in the city centre — which shows how little there is — and next to the metro site, where the popular and successful low-rise Tower Square was recently demolished by Sydney Metro.

Margaret Petrykowski addresses the gathering at the launch.

Ian Grey, President of the Association for the Committee for North Sydney, Jeremy Dawkins, Convenor of the Committee for North Sydney, Bruce Donald and Genia McCaffery also spoke.

The gathering was informed that the Committee for North Sydney had signed off on its initial documents (see the menu under Actions above), and that meetings had been held with Felicity Wilson, Tim Parker, Project Director for Sydney Metro, and Jilly Gibson. Meetings are being sought with other key stakeholders.

Media statement by the Committee for North Sydney

11 July 2018

‘Failed planning risks turning great civic opportunities into urban blight.’

So said leading city and regional planner, Jeremy Dawkins, at the launch of a new expert group, the Committee for North Sydney, today.

‘The North Sydney city centre has been getting steadily more bleak and congested. The building of a Metro station is the latest opportunity to kick-start its transformation into a great place. Instead, everything that’s been going wrong has been accelerated.’

Jeremy Dawkins, the Convenor of the Committee, said that many of Australia’s leading urban designers, architects, engineers and urban planners live in North Sydney, and together with community leaders they have formed the Committee for North Sydney to draw attention to a stark choice facing the North Sydney city centre.

‘The decision that the NSW Government must make is this – whether North Sydney remains an underperforming “office park with through traffic” or, over time, North Sydney becomes a great cultural, business and community asset for the state,’ he said.

The Committee for North Sydney strongly supports the call by the North Sydney Council for a pause in the rush to approve a massive private commercial building over the Victoria Cross station.

Last month the Council wrote to the Minister for Transport seeking further community consultation in relation to revised design options for development at the station site.

Former long-time North Sydney Mayor Genia McCaffery said, ‘Everyone welcomes a Metro station in the North Sydney city centre. But instead of this leading to much-needed public space and civic functions, the Government wants a commercial building occupying nearly the entire site.’

Prominent senior environment lawyer Bruce Donald AM of Waverton called on the NSW Government ‘to capture public value from this public transport project in a once in history chance to create a civic space for what has been a blighted North Sydney.’

The aims of the Committee for North Sydney are to facilitate public and expert contributions to the progressive improvement of North Sydney, through visionary strategic planning, good public policy and imaginative urban design.

It is supported by an Association that anyone can join. The Association and the Committee can be found at 
and contacted at

The Committee for North Sydney prepares for public launch on 11 July 2018

The Committee for North Sydney held its second meeting on 9 July 2018. All members attended the meeting, with the exception only or those ill or out of town.

The Committee finalised and adopted its submission to the Department of Planning and Environment on the over station development at the Victoria Cross metro station in North Sydney. The submission is available here.

The Committee also adopted a strong statement on the principles that should guide future development in North Sydney. The statement contrasts the ‘fantastic potential’ of the city with the ‘sad reality’. The statement is available here.

The record of the this, the second meeting of the Committee, is available here.

Strategic directions for North Sydney city centre

The Committee for North Sydney recognised the urgent need to state clear strategic principles that should help investors, landowners, businesses, people who work in and visit North Sydney, residents and governments — and their planners — make choices about the future of the city centre.

It’s easy to come up with motherhood statements that might be wishful goals for all city centres — attractive, vibrant, sustainable — but much harder to translate these into specific choices and policies for actual places. Committee members worked on a ‘principles’ document to express aspirations for the North Sydney city centre that are based on its particular qualities (good and bad) and target concrete changes that might be feasible.

We were able to condense this into a single summary page that:

  • identifies the city’s potential strengths
  • lists its well-recognised weaknesses
  • proposes a set of principles to guide all development into the future (this is the section headed YET in the attached statement)
  • presents a vision of the city centre after transformative development over some decades
  • And ends with a ‘call to action‘ — it takes an engaged community AND a determined local government AND a responsible state government to achieve sustained positive change.

At its meeting on 9 July 2018, the Committee for North Sydney discussed the document in detail, refined it, and endorsed its publication to coincide with the launch of the Committee.

Here it is:

Strategic directions for North Sydney city centre

INAUGURAL MEETING of the Committee for North Sydney on 29 June 2018

Reflecting the high level of concern in professional and academic circles and in the community, most members of the newly-appointed Committee for North Sydney were on hand for their inaugural meeting on 29 June 2018.

After introductions and a briefing on the Association and the Committee for North Sydney, the members entered into a lively discussion of the issues facing North Sydney and the critical decisions that are about to be made. There was agreement on the analysis of North Sydney’s deficiencies as  a city centre, and agreement on the direction that planning and development needed to follow over the next decades if the North Sydney city centre is to reach anything like its potential to serve the community and the state.

It was agreed to meet again on 9 July 2018, and to publicly launch the Committee on 11 July 2018.

The record of the meeting is here.

North Sydney Council calls for a halt in station development, and for new design options

At its meeting on 25 June 2018, the Council received a report from staff concerning the rush to approve the over station development at the Victoria Cross metro station.

Five members of the Committee for North Sydney addressed the Council, pointing out that this was a critical moment: the massive private commercial building proposed for the site would greatly worsen the congested and bleak nature of North Sydney’s streets, and permanently close off options for good public spaces.

The Council’s subsequent decision, supported by the Mayor and all Councillors other than Cr Keen (absent: conflict of interest) and Cr Gunning, was as follows.

1   THAT Council make a submission to the concept State Significant Development Application for the Victoria Cross Metro Over Station Development.

2   THAT the submission advocate design excellence and design options that promote a public plaza providing a heart for the North Sydney CBD including:

  • Consideration of no building above the station;
  • The alignment of the setback of any built form with the MLC building; and
  • Full or partial closure of Miller Street between Berry Street and Pacific Highway.

3   THAT Transport for NSW and the Roads and Maritime Services acknowledge the role of Metro in this location as a basis to achieve enormous mode shift benefits, high levels of pedestrian amenity and an attractive and inviting precinct post Metro and that the current through-traffic function of both Miller and Berry Streets is at odds with this objective.

4   THAT the submission be informed by submissions received from all Precincts.

5   THAT Council write to the Minister responsible seeking further community consultation in relation to revised design options.

The Committee for North Sydney strongly supports the call by the Council for revised design options, and for further community consultation.


At the General Meeting of the Association for the Committee for North Sydney held on 25 June 2018, the Board appointed the foundation members of the Committee for Sydney.

Convenor of the Committee for North Sydney: Jeremy Dawkins

Members of the Committee for North Sydney: Kevin Alker, Iain Bartholomew, Terry Byrnes, Darrel Conybeare [withdrew July 2019], Jeremy Dawkins, Bruce Donald, Geoff Driscoll, Angus Finney, Dr Sid French, John Hancox, Ian Grey, Geoff Hanmer, Professor David Hensher , Professor Jon Lang, Genia McCaffery, Jan McCredie, Warren Marsh, Margaret Petrykowski, Robert Stitt, Bernard Smith, Professor Peter Webber [withdrew July 2019], Professor James Weirick and John Wyndham.

The record of the meeting is here.

North Sydney association general meeting

Maintaining the sense of urgency that had caused the western Precinct Committees to establish the Association for the Committee for North Sydney, the members held a general meeting to elect the Board, on 25 June 2018.

The Board of seven members is as follows.

President: Ian Grey

Vice President: Margaret Petrykowski

Secretary: Bernard Smith

Treasurer: John Hancox

Board members: Ian Bartholomew, Jeremy Dawkins, Genia McCaffery

The record of the meeting is here.


North Sydney association formed

The inaugural meeting of the an association to campaign for the long term improvement of North Sydney — formally known as the Association for the Committee for North Sydney Incorporated — was held on 9 May 2018.

This was the culmination of many meetings of Precinct Committees and of joint meetings of the leaders of the Edward, Lavender, Union, Waverton and Wollstonecraft Precinct Committees.

With a sense of urgency, given the pace of development in North Sydney and the impending planning determination of the office building on top of the Victoria Cross metro station, a small group was asked to get things moving.

The first step. after registering the association with the template constitution,  was to amend the constitution to reflect the precise purposes and structure intended for the Association and its Committee for North Sydney.  The decisions made at the meeting are here.

The Constitution of the Association for the Committee for North Sydney Incorporated is incorporated in the record of the meeting. The constitution may be seen here.