Harbour North Village Consultation

(6.30pm 7 December 2011, Abraham Mott Hall Argyle Place Millers Point)

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to this meeting. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities which make up our City.

I'm pleased to welcome you all here tonight. I also want to welcome:

  • our facilitator for the evening, Lucy Cole-Edelstein
  • our City of Sydney Design director, Bridget Smyth and the City Design team
  • Catherine Dung from Spackman Mossop Michaels who'll be presenting work on the key streets and
  • Adam Hunter from Turf Environmental Partnerships, who'll be presenting on the Observatory Hill Masterplan Review.

Also joining us tonight are Rebecca Hawcroft from Godden Mackay Logan heritage consultants, and transport and traffic experts from the City's Access Unit.

This is one of Sydney's most significant areas - for its residents, its heritage and for tourists. Millers Point, Dawes Point, Walsh Bay, The Rocks and the future Barangaroo have a unique character which we all prize.

Yet all are facing potentially significant change from the Barangaroo development to the west. The new headland park - due to open in 2014 - will undoubtedly draw visitors from Sydney and beyond.

There are also a number of State Government projects underway which will affect this area. They include:

  • Transport for NSW's Wynyard Walk, which involves the recognfiguration of Margaret Street and a new pedestrian tunnel from Wynyard to Barangaroo
  • Arts NSW's masterplanning at the Walsh Bay piers Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority's work around Circular Quay and First Fleet Park and
  • NSW Roads and Maritime Services work on removing the toll gates and realigning lanes on the Bradfield Highway.

The City started work on a Public Domain study for the area earlier this year because we want to plan properly for the changes that are coming, as well as to cater for the increase in pedestrians who will use these streets to get to the new waterfront destinations.

We want to work with you to minimise any negative impacts and to keep a strong local community here.

We started the process by exhibiting a Draft Harbour Village North Public Domain Study in July and August. We received in response many constructive and useful submissions from you, and from government agencies.

We've been working closely with the relevant government agencies including Transport for NSW, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, as well as meeting with the Department of Housing and the NSW Heritage Office.

We've already had two community workshops, starting with a discussion on your ideas for the area and initial responses to the Draft Study in July.

This was followed by a second workshop in September, where we presented some preliminary work on the projects that were identified as priorities. We got great feedback on the places and issues that are important for you, and your input has been very helpful in shaping the direction of the projects.

The key messages from you were that:

  • heritage preservation is critical, and must be central to this study, and that heritage includes social and cultural attributes as well as the physical fabric of the area
  • there needs to be a balance between protecting the amenity of existing residents and improving access for visitors and
  • there is strong support for improved public transport, including light rail.

However:

  • streets must provide a balance between public transport, cars, parking, pedestrians and bikes
  • clear and safe pedestrian paths, and easy access to transport and parking is very important for elderly residents, and for people with prams
  • Observatory Hill is a special place for the local community, and also attracts many visitors. A better balance is needed between bikes, pedestrians and cars, as well as between active and passive park uses and
  • we also need to ensure Walsh Bay is well connected, and lively during the day.

Tonight's workshop is to give us the opportunity to present to you the developed work on Observatory Hill and the key streets, and to hear from you what parts of these projects are important to you.

We will then review your comments and begin costing and feasibility assessments for the proposals. A series of recommendations will be made in a report to Council early next year, identifying projects to be carried out over the next five to 10 years.

Your submissions so far, and you on-going feedback, will be incorporated into a revised draft of the Public Domain Strategy which will be publicly exhibited followed report to Council.

There's a lot to get through tonight, so now I'd like to thank you all again for taking part in this workshop, and hand you over to our facilitator, Lucy Cole-Edelstein.