We apologise for the lack of reports on Bays and Foreshores in recent months. The problem has not been a lack of news: quite the opposite in fact. There has been a lot going on and the problem has been to decide when any single aspect had solidified sufficiently to make a sensible report. However we now seem to have reached a real turning point. Read on…

The Bays Precinct Campaign

The community campaign around the Bays Precinct is about to move into a new phase.

As previously advised, the Minister’s Bays Precinct Community Reference Group (CRG) provided its formal advice to Government on the 1 March. In line with our terms of reference, we produced a set of strong planning principles for the Bays and, in addition, a preliminary set of ideas for future integrated uses of the Bays precinct consistent with these principles.  We also urged the Government to put a hold on one-off, ad hoc developments until an integrated vision/plan for the Bays can be developed AND to ensure that the one-off developments that are to go ahead (eg the passenger cruise terminal at White bay, the B1, B2 wharves, Fish Market and Banks Street developments) are implemented so as to be consistent with the CRG planning principles. The CRG also recommended the establishment of a dedicated Bays Precinct authority to replace the multitudinous authorities currently responsible for the area. This is an absolute prerequisite to any improvement in planning approaches and will be a centre piece of our ongoing campaigning.

The Bays Precinct viewed from the west with Glebe (and the tramsheds) in the foreground. A valuable additional product of the CRG, was a highly professional and detailed illustrative plan for the Future of The Bays Precinct developed during the CRG process by 5 of its community members- showing what an imaginative and strategic approach to this spectacular site, using the CRG principles, can look like. This impressive document sets a standard as to the kind of integrated, imaginative vision and planning we expect the Government to develop for this spectacular site. The overall CRG advice, including the exemplary Future of the Bays (though not necessarily the particular activities suggested) was endorsed without dissent at the its last meeting. The full advice can be read on the Glebe Society website or – click here for the executive summary, or click here for the full report. If you want to get further information on the Government’s ongoing activities,browse to the SHFA website. We now have 3000 copies of a executive summary (thanks to the Minister and SHFA) which the CRG community representatives will use in their ongoing campaigning. https://www.glebesociety.org.au/wp-content/uploads/image/Bays-aerial-Glebe-Island-web.jpg While we think we have done well to have hung in and achieved a wide consensus around this advice, we now face the formidable, but not hopeless, task of persuading the Government to act on it. Reigniting the campaign The CRG has been disbanded.  We expect the Government to reconstitute an effective community advisory committee as part of its promised Stage 2 process in the second half of 2010, but there does not seem to be much clarity yet about what this stage 2 will constitute.  In the interim, we have begun post-CRG campaigning.

The Bays Precinct – Glebe Island in the centre. Numbers of community groups are trying to keep the issues alive in the media and we managed to get good coverage of the CRG advice in both the SMH and the Inner West Courier in early March.  With another CRG member, I briefed the City of Sydney councillors recently on the CRG advice and sought their ongoing partnership with the community groups in the forthcoming campaign to have our principles and recommendations taken up by Government. We have sought a meeting with the new Minister for Planning and the elusive Bays Precinct Taskforce and will be writing to Premier Keneally seeking her ongoing support.  I have met and sought support on these requests from Verity Firth who, as both a member of the CRG and our local member, effectively intervened on our behalf with the minister at critical points, when the whole process could otherwise have broken down.

The Bays Precinct from Rozelle – White Bay power station in the centre. As Bruce indicates in his reports on other development in the Bays, the BCC has met and discussed its role in this revived campaign. Our next major step will be to hold a public meeting in late May or early June to brief our communities on the CRG advice and the Government’s process and discuss ways in which the community can influence current developments in the Bays and get action on our recommendations.  (This was a suggestion of the Glebe Society Management committee and has the obvious advantage of sustaining the alliances that were developed during the CRG process.) This public meeting will be organised by some (and we hope all) community groups that participated in the CRG.  We want to make this a high profile event to strengthen our capacity to influence the one-off developments that are already approved by Government, but to keep alive the long awaited commitment by the Government to move towards an integrated and far more strategic approach to planning for the Bays Precinct. As we all know, we have a once in a century opportunity to do something wonderful with 80 hectares of publicly owned land, 5 km of Sydney Harbour foreshore and major heritage items with exciting adaptive potential.  We must not allow Government or others interests to squander this opportunity to properly plan a major phase in the ongoing transition of Sydney Harbour to its post industrial future. I don’t think it will be easy.

– Lesley Lynch, April 2010

At last – an upgrade for the Fish Market

Click here to view to visit our Photo Gallery and view photos showing the opportunities and problems facing the market in its upgrade. After years of trying it looked like the only option would be, in the words of the Managing Director of Sydney Fish Market, Grahame Turk, to “put lipstick on the bulldog.” But how things can change when there is an election in the offing! On 7 April the Government announced that it would contribute $20 million to the redevelopment of one of Sydney’s iconic locations – the Fish Market at Pyrmont. Together with $20 million from the company that runs the market, this will provide improvements to vehicle access, parking, additional wholesale and retail facilities and, from the public’s perspective a waterfront park and promenade along with a repaired sea wall and a reduction in the market’s characteristic odour. It appears that the announcement of the upgrade was put together in rather a hurry so we will have to await the development application (DA) before all the details will be available. However based on what has been made public so far, the upgrade can be seen as both a disappointment and a triumph – a disappointment because Grahame Turk had developed a far more ambitious and attractive plan which the Government declined to support, but a triumph for Grahame’s determination to fix the market’s many problems and make it an attractive destination for Sydney residents and tourists. The Government funding will go towards improving the basic infrastructure (the site is owned by the Government) and public open space, while improvements that support the market’s commercial functions will be funded by the company. Since its formation the Blackwattle Cove Coalition has advocated an upgrade of the Fish Market, and it will continue to press for improvements. For example, while it appears that the upgrade cannot fund a wider public promenade in front of the main building, we hope that management may be able to convince retailers that their front door should face the water, and find somewhere else to park their waste bins. We will examine the DA when it is lodged and offer further comment. Visitors battle the rubbish ejected onto the bayside walk by Fish Market retailers. Other issues that the announcement prompts are the future of the “cesspit” between the market and the ruins of the coal bunker, and how access to Wentworth Park can be improved. The text of the announcements by the Premier, Kristina Keneally, and our local member of parliament, Verity Firth, and by Mr Turk on behalf of the Fish Market company are available on the Society’s website. Click here to read the announcement by the Premier and local MP Verity Firth. Click here to read the press release issued by the Fish Market company.

– Bruce Davis, April 2010
Click here for more images of the Fish Market

Wentworth Park – the walls come tumbling down

A former chair of the Blackwattle Cove Coalition once suggested that the only way to bring down the walls of Wentworth Park world be to strip off our gear on the night of the full moon and dance around the walls chanting. Thank god it hasn’t come to that! As everyone knows, the walls on the western (Glebe) side of the park were replaced some time ago, and now the Wentworth Park Sporting Complex Trust and the Sydney City Council are about to finalise plans to rebuild the eastern (Wattle Street) entrance. And planning is proceeding to replace the northern (Blackwattle Bay) wall, and finally the wall near the children’s playground on the southern side. By 2013 the last remnants of the concrete block and barbed wire battlements should have disappeared. These walls are a legacy of the days of SP bookmakers before the TAB and have long been redundant. The plans for the eastern entrance moves the existing wall back by up to eight meters from the heavy traffic in Wattle Street and creates a link between the northern and southern sections of the park. The project also involves the demolition of the old Ledger building, the removal of the infill in the arches of the railway viaduct that crosses the park, and the construction of changing facilities at the rear of the grandstand for sporting teams that use the park. Work is expected to start in mid-June and should take 3-4 months to complete. The project to remove the southern wall, which is part of a building, will bring other benefits as it will allow the Trust to increase parking within the complex and reduce the need for race night parking on the park to the south of the main entrance. Although this area is outside be boundaries of the complex, the Trust is now responsible for its management and plans to upgrade it and possibly include a hard stand community sporting facility. And in answer to the unasked question from eagle-eyed Glebe residents, the new building at the Glebe entrance of the complex is actually turnstiles required by the dog racing club for race nights. It has been carefully designed to blend in with other structures in the area.

– Bruce Davis, April 2010

Blackwattle Bay wharves

The announcement of Government assistance to the Fish Market redevelopment has prompted the Blackwattle Cove Coalition (BCC) to wonder what is happening with the adjacent Blackwattle Bay wharves. Some time ago NSW Maritime sought registrations of interest in the development of sites known as B1 and B2 – the derelict coal bunker and the wharves from there up to, but not including, the concrete batch plant. Last year saw an announcement that a company that runs harbour cruises was the preferred candidate to develop the wharves.  No details were released, but an artist’s impression given to the media suggested that the planned development was inconsistent with the planning parameters announced for the site. Nothing has been heard publicly since. The decision to designate a preferred developer on this site was seen as undermining the work of the CRG and almost led to a walk out of community groups. As it appears the Government intends to proceed with this development, (as it did with Bailey’s refuelling depot and the Cruise Passenger Termin al at White bay) the CRG members will now focus on ensuring any development is consistent with the CRG Principles for the Bays Precinct as well as the existing master Plan. BCC believes planning for these two sites should be integrated with the rest of the precinct, and in particular with the concrete batch plant site and the Glebe and Pyrmont foreshores of Blackwattle Bay, and should take into account the site’s relationship to Wentworth Park.

– Bruce Davis and Lesley Lynch, 2010

Secondary College walkway

The Glebe Society is actively pursuing the completion by Sydney City Council of the foreshore walk in front of the Blackwattle Campus of the Sydney Secondary College. This final section of the Glebe foreshore walk had been scheduled to follow completion of the major section that ends at the rowing clubs. However delays occurred – a deal had to be made with the Department of Education, there were said to be problems over site contamination, and eventually the City deferred the project due to budget constraints. Lesley Lynch raised the issue recently with council staff and was told that it was planned to include funding for the design stage in the 2010-11 budget and construction funds in the following year. Our local member, Verity Firth has recently reaffirmed her commitment to this project and is working with the Society to move things along. The original plan was for a land-based path, but it is possible that the final design may be a boardwalk over the harbour. The longer-term plan is to link the school section to a walkway through the Blackwattle Bay wharves which will join to the Fish Market promenade and foreshore park.

– Bruce Davis, April 2010

Heritage Fleet may move to Pyrmont

A move to Pyrmont is on the cards for the Sydney Heritage Fleet. For several years the Fleet has been under notice from NSW Maritime to move from its current site in Rozelle Bay. This site is quite valuable and clearly the Government would prefer to lease it to a commercial tenant. The site suggested by Maritime is under the south-eastern approach to the Anzac Bridge. This area has long been proposed as a site for a park, and the dragon boat fraternity has been promised a home there. The site was increased not long ago when the Government acquired 1 Bank Street from a private owner. There are a number of issues to be sorted out before any clear proposal emerges, including the impact of the Heritage Fleet’s water-based presence on rowers, the location of the Heritage Fleet and dragon boat facilities, and the impact of noise from ship repair work on nearby residents.

– Bruce Davis, April 2010