Ian Stephenson, Planning Convenor, Glebe Society Bulletin, March 2021

On 30 January our compatriot organisation Hands Off Glebe held a demonstration opposing the redevelopment of the Cowper St and Franklyn St estates.

Speakers included Denis Doherty of Hands Off Glebe, Ian Stephenson, the Glebe Society, Jamie Parker, the member for Balmain, Paul Keating, Maritime Union of Australia, Emily Bullock, Franklyn St representative and Dr Alistair Sisson, a research associate at the University of New South Wales City Futures Research Centre.

The Franklyn St estate currently provides 108 apartments set within gardens. The proposed development will have 425 apartments. To enable this a spot rezoning will be needed to change the existing height limit from 15 metres to 42 metres.

Of the 425 apartments, only 140 will be for social housing, a net increase of 22. However, as Jamie Parker explained, the number of social housing bedrooms will probably be less as a large proportion of the community housing units will be one bedroom. The current complex contains 254 bedrooms.

 LAHC Franklyn St redevelopment community consultation pack

As outlined in the December 2020 Bulletin the estate is over 1.3 hectares in area, with 1/3 of a kilometre of street frontage on Franklyn St, Glebe St and Bay St. All the current street frontages address heritage conservation areas in which there are a number of individually listed heritage buildings. It is situated within the Mountain St Heritage Conservation Area. Its size and location make it a key site linking the low rise Victorian residential character of Glebe with the historic warehouses which define Ultimo. This gives it a great strategic importance in contributing to and defining the character of the area and its streets.

The current Development Control Plan provides a good framework for preserving the character and identity of the area, but this will be trashed if spot rezoning is approved. Good planning will be sacrificed for the misnamed Communities Plus Program – it really should be called the Communities Minus Program.

The concept fails the people of NSW on many levels including tenants’ amenity, respect for tenants, good design and respect for heritage and context.

The Lord Mayor’s response to the Glebe Society can be read here