By Duncan Leys, President, Bulletin 3/2024, May

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 had thought we had reached the limit of our greenspaces that could be roped off due to possible asbestos contamination. More of Glebe and Forest Lodge have been roped off since. We are yet to hear of the source of the contamination, or when the sites will be cleaned up, although some areas have been opened up and the paths through the Rozelle Parklands are accessible.

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) has unified community opposition across a diverse range of councils and community groups not merely 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 has recently announced that the amount of car parking to be provided will be similar to that for the old fish market. This is code for saying there will be less parking at The New Sydney Fish Market. Given the traffic, parking and public transport plan is not ready for public release you could not be confident the new fish market will open without controversy. What is certain is the congestion around the new fish market will be worse than it is now.

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

Glebe Island Bridge, 2024 (photo: Tim Hesketh)

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.

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 which affected 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, was a focus of the Radical Glebe 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 John’s 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, were included in the Late Victorian Streetscapes walk led by Jan Macindoe and Katharine Vernon held on 20 March.

Our walks are proving very popular, often booked out soon after publication of the program. The number of places made available for each Walk varies depending on the character of the Walk and preference of the guides, so do get in early to be sure of a place.

The second half of the year will offer interesting options including a visit by bus to the Rookwood Cemetery and a walk from Victoria Park to Wentworth Park following the old waterways. More details to come.