Preparatory work on the Pyrmont to Blackwattle Bay Waterfront Promenade is well underway. UrbanGrowth NSW began testing ground and water conditions in December.

There is considerable activity in relation to the Bays Market District. UrbanGrowth and the Fish Markets have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on implementing the new Market District.  They expect to call for Expressions of Interest in March.  We await the outcome of this process with great interest.

The repurposing of the huge landmark and heritage classified White Bay Power Station and surrounding public foreshore land was always seen as one of the most difficult but also most strategic parts of the Bays Precinct renewal. UrbanGrowth and the NSW government have taken it on as an immediate priority. They put out The repurposing of the huge landmark and heritage classified White Bay Power Station. Mandatory criteria in the RFP include ‘maintaining view corridors, public access and public value in relation to heritage, as well as waterfront access’.  A short-listed group will be invited to submit detailed proposals.

At this stage it appears that most of the land and the building will be sold or leased on a 99 year basis.

There is no official information as to the interested parties in this venture but there have been various newspaper reports that Google is interested.  This would be consistent with the UrbanGrowth’s vision of a knowledge and innovation hub for this site and possibly parts of Glebe Island – and with the views of many community members.

Both the Market District and the Power Station areas will incorporate considerable residential development as well as employment opportunities. We will continue to argue for more significant designation of any residential development for affordable and social housing.

We must hope that UrbanGrowth and the NSW government do not squander the opportunity to create something very special on this magnificent strategic site.

The heritage Glebe Island Bridge is at last included as a formal project within the Bays Precinct. But it is clear that our campaign for its preservation and repurposing as a pedestrian and cycle transit route – and possibly light rail route – is far from guaranteed. It appears that UrbanGrowth is supportive of this preservation and reuse.  However, the owners of Sydney Superyacht Marina continue to campaign against it as being inconsistent with the need of the superyachts to enter and exit Rozelle Bay without delay. (SMH 13 January 2016)

The overall issue of transport planning for the Bays Precinct remains a huge, unresolved and highly contentious issue. We made an effort to probe this at the first meeting with little success. The discussion did confirm the disturbing impression that UrbanGrowth will have limited – possibly very little – influence over the major decisions in relation to either public or private transport planning. This of course includes the looming WestConnex project which will have a huge impact on the Bays Precinct around Rozelle Bays, and even possibly intruding into the Glebe parklands. (Westconnex Updated Strategic Business Case).

Despite UrbanGrowth’s assurances it is working closely with the relevant agencies, there are legitimate grounds to think the Bays Precinct project could well be seriously undermined by the broader confusions and competing views of infrastructure, roads and public transport agencies that are currently bedevilling Sydney’s overall transport planning.

The other alarming issue is the lack of explicit public reference to planning for education and health care facilities. We are told they are being considered within the open space and community facilities study underway. Hopefully some tangible information will emerge soon.