by Neil Macindoe, Planning Convenor 

The inner suburbs of Sydney have long been recognised as the repository of our history and deserving of conservation. Glebe itself was first recognised as an Urban Conservation Area in 1974.

More recently, The Australian Institute of Architects has held up Glebe as a model for future urban development (see below).

The City of Sydney acknowledged the special character of the inner city when it commissioned its Urban Design Studies in 2008, the first stage of preparing a new City Plan. The result was a huge amount of measurement and data, in which the fine-grained, multilayered development of our earliest suburbs was collected. This data collection allowed the distinctive nature of our historic suburbs to be widely acknowledged. The only exception has been the State Government that has exasperated everyone with its 'one size fits all' approach to planning.

Consequently the advantages of the new research have largely been lost in the new City Plan now on exhibition at Glebe Library until 4 April.

This ham-fisted approach can have serious effects for individuals. If you live in Allen or Cook Streets you should check the Maximum Building Heights map to see what the imposition of an insensitive State Government template may mean for you. There may very well be problems in other streets as well, so checking your house on the Maximum Building Heights, Floor Space Ratio and Buildings Contributions maps is a worthwhile exercise.

Even if you are not personally affected we are asking members to object to the imposition of State Government templates in the following areas:

  1. All institutions are included in the zone that surrounds them (the only exception is Blackwattle Secondary College, which keeps its special zoning because there is contamination on the site). Hence Glebe's schools, library, police and fire stations and neighbourhood centres are zoned General Residential. Glebe Public is zoned Local Business. This means that if one of these sites is sold to a developer (a scenario more likely after what we have seen at Glebe Post Office and Harold Park) the site would not need to be rezoned, depriving the community of a say in its use.
  2. All the business section of Glebe Point Road is zoned at the higher Floor Space Ratio of 1.5:1, regardless of any differences between businesses. There is no longer any incentive to provide accommodation above shops, and thus both security and low-cost housing is lost. In the case of Glebe Public School the entire site could be redeveloped as a business including the entire Glebe Markets site.
  3. Major controls like Maximum Building Heights are applied to entire streets based on the highest point, without allowing for differences. This has led to anomalies in Allen Street, Cook Street, Glebe Point Road and possibly other streets as well.
 The Society asks all members, whether personally affected or not, to write to the City Council requesting them to resist the imposition of these State Government templates. It is highly likely that resident groups everywhere will do the same. The State Government has attracted a lot of criticism for its role in planning, and this latest imposition deserves the firmest rejection.

See the reverse for information from the City of Sydney website which tells you how to find out more about the City Plan and how to make a submission. The closing date for submissions is 4 April.

 Where can I find out more about the City Plan?
The City Plan exhibition documents, maps and supporting information can be viewed from Wednesday 2 February 2011 to Monday 4 April 2011:
In hard copy at all of Council’s Customer Service Centres, including Glebe Customer Service Centre, 186 Glebe Point Road, Glebe (Glebe Library)
Hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
To speak with the City Planning team you can call 02 9265 9333
How do I make my submission on the City Plan?
Submissions must be made in writing by 5pm Monday, 4 April 2011 to:
The Chief Executive Officer
City Plan Development Unit
City of Sydney
GPO Box 1591
Sydney NSW 2001
Ref: S081001
or email to: 

 Letter to Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February, 2011

 High-density potential hiding in plain sight

There is nothing the least bit green about the opposition's plan to build more housing on the city fringe. Adding to sprawl will increase our infrastructure and transport problems. More cars, more delays on the clogged motorway system.

 It's not what we need from a new government – we need a commitment to density and a politician with the ability to sell it.

 Density isn't only apartment towers, and it doesn't mean destroying heritage areas such as Ku-ring-gai. Paddington, Glebe and other inner suburbs achieve good density, but they are still desirable places to live. We can achieve a much greater variety of housing in existing built-up areas without retreating to the fringe.

 Labor's policy is about right, but implementation has been too slow. A new planning act is needed to cut through the present maze and deliver a built environment that is diverse, dense and liveable.

 Brian Zulaikha
NSW President
Australian Institute of ArchitectsPotts Point