The 1960s saw the start of organised resident action in the inner city. The Balmain Association was formed in 1965 and the Annandale Association in 1969. At this same time Glebe was threatened by two major proposals which would:
- destroy the distinctive Victorian character of the suburb by demolition of terrace houses to make way for three-storey flats,
- cut the suburb into three to make way for freeways, and
- destroy Lyndhurst, a fine Regency villa.
The Glebe Society was formed in March 1969 to fight these proposals. Our Society, led by the eminent art historian from the University of Sydney, Power Professor of Fine Arts Professor Bernard Smith, and his talented wife, a teacher, the late Kate (Challis) Smith (1915-1989) successfully opposed these threats. In 1970 the Society prepared a Master Plan for the area which resulted in the National Trust’s listing of Glebe as a Conservation Area in 1974 with the Heritage Council of NSW.
New Town Plan
The NSW Minister for Planning, Andrew Refshauge, finally approved Leichhardt’s New Town Plan (gazetted December 22, 2000) for the municipality which contains provisions regarding building dimensions within particular streetscapes including alignments, heights and uniform harmony, as well as focusing on energy conservation and efficiency. The New Town Plan also identifies areas where greater density is feasible, e.g. Catherine Street (Leichhardt) and has, to date, made detailed planning notes for Lilyfield and is next to focus on the suburb of Leichhardt. Unfortunately, there is still no new Development Control Plan for Glebe in place.
The Society has since been instrumental in achieving other significant successes including:
- the creation of two parks at Glebe Point – Bicentennial Park on the southern foreshore of Rozelle Bay, and Blackwattle Park on the western shore of Blackwattle Bay,
- support for the conservation of The Glebe Estate,
- support for the acquisition and extensions to Benledi for the Glebe Branch Library, and
- a long-running and successful campaign to establish the Metro Light Rail system from Central through Glebe to Lilyfield and its future extension to Circular Quay and Leichhardt.
Currently the Glebe Society is active in preserving the suburb’s built environment and is involved in a broad range of issues which affect Glebe, including
- the promotion of the Millenium Foreshore Walkway and Cycleway from Bicentennial Park to the City of Sydney;
- initiating alternative approaches to managing rubbish and litter;
- the preservation of heritage buildings, including the Glebe Estate; and
- the preservation of public access to Blackwattle and Rozelle Bays.