By Duncan Leys, President, Bulletin 2/2024, April

2024 is proving to be a challenging year. 

WestConnex is now the subject of a NSW Upper House inquiry, and the Society is working on a submission. In my most recent President’s Update, I asked members for their feedback on WestConnex, and we want to hear from you.

When I last wrote, I thought we had reached the limit of green spaces in our area that could be roped off due to possible asbestos contamination. More of Glebe and Forest Lodge have been roped off since. We have yet to hear of the source of the contamination or when the sites will be cleaned up.

Wentworth Park 'Danger - Asbestos'
An area within Wentworth Park roped-off, with ‘Danger – Asbestos’ sign (Photo: V. Simpson-Young)

The State Government’s proposed changes to zoning laws around transport hubs and the Low- and Mid-Rise Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (LMRH SEPP) have unified community opposition across diverse councils and community groups, not merely those from the inner suburbs. The Society has lodged a submission with the Department of Planning

It has been reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that developers are approaching homeowners in Glebe, offering to buy their properties at above-market prices, presumably to consolidate sites for high-rise development. Given that the land costs will be significant, it is hard to see how the apartments that might be built could be classed as affordable.

The new Sydney Fish Market, SW view (Photo: Tim Hesketh)
The new Sydney Fish Market, SW view (Photo: Tim Hesketh)

Regarding the new Sydney Fish Market (SFM), the State Government has recently announced that the amount of car parking will be similar to that for the old Fish Market. This is code for saying there will be less parking at the new SFM. Given that the traffic, parking and public transport plan is not ready for public release, one can not be confident the new SFM will open without controversy. What is certain is that the congestion around the new SFM will be worse than it is now.

The conservation work on Bidura was due to start by 1 March 2024. The Society will write to the developers asking for an update on the conservation work.

There has been a development regarding the Glebe Island Bridge. One of our members alerted us to a request for tender from Transport for NSW seeking expressions of interest for proposals to restore the Glebe Island Bridge. Our local member, Kobi Shetty, has agreed to seek clarification on the tender, particularly the aims and potential outcomes. The Society wants to see the Glebe Island Bridge returned to full working order and available for public access.

This will be our new editor Tim Hesketh’s second Bulletin, and I want to thank Tim who, with the Bulletin team, is making a great fist of his new role.

The three new convenors who joined the management committee, Cheryl Leckstrom (Community Liaison), Janet Oakley (Transport and Traffic) and John Sergeant (Bays and Foreshores), are off to a great start, showing initiative, energy and creativity.

The 2024 Glebe Society Guided Walks Program features three walks in the first half of the year which reflect significant events affecting our community around 50 years ago.

  • The setting up of Elsie refuge in March 1974. The history of Elsie, the first women’s refuge in Australia, is a focus of the Radical Glebe guided walk on 14 April.
  • The purchase by the Whitlam Government of the ‘Glebe Lands’ in 1974. Max Solling will lead a walk on 25 May through the streets and lanes of St Phillips and Bishopthorpe (much of the area between St Johns Road and Broadway).
  • The publication in 1973 of ‘The Architectural Character of Glebe’ by Bernard and Kate Smith. Many of the houses in the Toxteth Estate, pictured in the book, are included in the Late Victorian Streetscapes walk led by Katharine Vernon and Jan Macindoe to be held on 10 April.

Our Guided Walks are proving very popular, often booked out soon after the program’s publication. The number of places available for each Walk varies depending on the Walk’s character and the leader’s preference, so do get in early to be sure of a place. The second half of the year offers interesting options, including a bus visit to the Rookwood Cemetery and a walk from Victoria Park to Wentworth Park following the old waterways. More details will appear in the next Bulletin.

Best regards,

Duncan Leys