The President of the Glebe Society, Dr Lesley Lynch, sent the following email to members on Sunday, 18 July:

Dear Glebe Society members

With apologies for the length- this message provides:

  • an update on the HP rezoning process;

  • a summary of our current response to the rezoning proposal;

  • an outline of what action the Glebe Society will take over the next week; and

  • a call to each of you to take some action – (see below for detail)

Update on the Rezoning Process

On Thursday the City of Sydney Council (COS) posted the proposed draft planning controls for Harold Park and updated technical reports on its website (click on this link to read the papers).

The process will now move very fast.

These drafts controls will go to the CoS Planning Committee on Monday and to the Central Sydney Planning Committee (CSPC) on Wednesday and then to full Council on Monday 29 July. If the controls are approved, they go to the Minister for Planning for consideration and, if approved, go on public exhibition. We would then have a further opportunity to comment.

If however, the draft controls are not agreed to by the CSPC or the Minister, responsibility for the rezoning of the site will automatically be referred to the Minister for decision as a Part 3 process.This is an outcome we have been very keen to avoid as it effectively cuts the community out of the process.

We understand the Pacing Club will be strongly opposing the Council proposals.

The Political Context

Next week’s critical consideration of the Harold Park proposals will be conducted in the context of a threatening State Government surprise review of the CSPC. We share the widespread apprehension that this review is intended to further reduce the planning powers of the CoS and further shut out the community. One can  only speculate as to why this review is being rushed through so close to the state election. (See analysis by Elizabeth Farrelly SMH 16/7/2010 ,p13 )

The challenge for us in this threatening context, is to find the best ways of fighting for good planning outcomes in the HP redevelopment while defending what we have left of institutions which allow the community access to the decision making process.

While we do not agree with some very important aspects of the current proposal for HP, we do not see the CoS as the main threat to the community in this process. We will be defending the role of the COS and the CSPC in the planning for our city and arguing they should have a stronger role. We remain opposed to the Part 3 powers which allow the Minister to override community and local government views. We know the Council has invited and considered the views of its community. We have no confidence that this will be the case if the rezoning goes to the Minister.

TGSI Response to the Draft Planning Controls

The community got it largely right and the principles submitted by the Glebe Society provide a fair and reasonable basis for the rezoning of the HP and Tramsheds site.

It is clear that the CoS has considered our public resolution and principles and it has responded positively to many of them. We welcome:

  • The dedication of 35%  of the site as open public space with a requirement that it be continuous and incorporating a full size sports field;
  •  The requirement for at least 50 units of public housing to maintain diversity in our community
  • The designation of the Tramsheds as a heritage item and the requirement that 500m2   of floor space be allocated to CoS for community uses.

However the draft controls fall short of the community principles on a number of major points. Our major objections relate to the following:

  • The height of the buildings at the perimeters of the site. There was a strong view that the buildings should not be higher than the cliff face or the adjacent residences. This still allowed CoS to achieve a reasonable density though different distribution of building heights on the site
  • The allocation of the public open space entirely on the Glebe side of the site incorporating a buffer between the cliff face and the new high rise buildings. We have argued strongly for a link with the existing open spaces and for the bulk of the open space to be along the canal side of the site
  • We are not convinced the implications of the traffic that will flow from the increase of 20% in the density (from 1000 to 1200 residential units) has been given sufficient consideration. If the development includes large scale commercial/retail activities this would greatly exacerbate the traffic problems.
  • While supporting significant residential development on the HP site as appropriate given the pressure for inner city housing, we will continue to argue against overdevelopment of the site for a host of sound environmental and amenity reasons. To the extent that this increased density and building height is driven by the wish of the Pacing Club to generate a greater profit windfall, we do not think it justified.

The Club gained the publicly owned Tramsheds site with public money so they could build what they claimed were urgently needed stables. These never eventuated and the Tramsheds were allowed to fall into great disrepair.The clear community preference is that the heritage Tramsheds part of the site be restored to the public and community use by reimbursing the Pacing Club for the sum they paid – rather than a windfall development profit. This would be a fair outcome which would still provide the Club with a handsome profit for the benefit of its members.  

The allocation of 35% of the site to public open space and 500mof the Tramsheds to community use goes someway to achieving this.

Next Steps

The Glebe Society will register to speak at the Planning Committee meeting on Monday and the CSPC meeting on Wednesday. We will nominate three or four speakers so we can put Forest Lodge and Annandale perspectives as well as our general argument.

What you can do

We urge you to email your responses to Councillors before midday on Monday. Core issues are: 35% public space; buildings no higher than cliff face or adjacent residences and no windfall profit from the Tramsheds site – and general support for the COS and CSPC processes as opposed to Part 3Click here for a list of councillors of the City of Sydney.

If you can attend these meetings your presence supporting the Glebe Society position will be very important.

You can ask to speak at the meetings, and you have a right to do so if you put in a submission. You must do this by noon on Monday by registering with Council's Secretariat Unit  9265 9310.

As it is quite possible that these draft controls will not be supported next week, we also urge you to send emails and/or phone Verity Firth, the Premier and the Planning Minister as well as the leader of the opposition and the shadow planning minister. The relevant email addresses are:

Relevant documents are on the Glebe Society website (click here for links). We will keep the site up to date with developments.

We are at a critical point in this process. Hope to see quite a few of you at the meetings.


Lesley Lynch
The Glebe Society Inc

18 July 2010