Harbour Village North Public Domain Roundtable

(12pm 16 August 2011, Lord Mayor's Reception Room)

Hello, everyone, welcome. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the traditional custodians of our land, and pay my respects to their Elders, both past and present.

Today we'll be working on developing a long-term vision for improving what we're calling Harbour Village North - that is, the villages of Millers Point, Dawes Point, Walsh Bay and The Rocks.

Together, they form a unique area, one of Sydney's most important heritage, tourist, residential and cultural areas. They have a unique character that we all cherish, but it is facing major change with the Barangaroo development along the western edge.

The City started work on a Draft Harbour Village North Public Domain Study because we want to plan for that change and shape this local area in the context of Sydney as a global city.

This luncheon is to ask for your ideas and suggestions on the draft study, which Council received in mid-June.

There are a number of issues to be considered, as we strive to improve connections to new public places and existing cultural attractions, while protecting and celebrate the special heritage and residential character of this area.

Our study considers how the City's proposed Cultural Ribbon can be articulated in this area of major cultural venues. We could, for instance, introduce special signage and public art to contribute to wayfinding for pedestrians and cyclists.

The long-awaited introduction of light-rail along George Street through Walsh Bay to Barangaroo will provide a fantastic opportunity, for the first time providing easy transport access to the cultural precinct.

Before we get into our discussion, I want to update you on a few City initiatives that will have a major impact on this precinct.

One is Transport: The City is discussing the light-rail project with the Premier and Minister for Transport. We believe that the State is now committed to light-rail in the CBD and, as recently announced, out the east to the sporting stadia, the University of NSW and the health precinct.

The issue is when this will occur.

In terms of our Cultural Strategy, we are now scoping its development to create a strategy which will define our vision for Sydney as a leading international Creative City.

The strategy will help us in the further development of important cultural precincts like Walsh Bay, Oxford Street, Eveleigh Carriageworks and the Cultural Ribbon.

We are also developing the City's first Night Time City Policy. This work is being informed by extensive consultation and research. It will ensure that we have a genuinely diverse night-time offer in the City and this work will obviously feed into our work on Harbour Village North.

While this study focuses on public domain improvements at the local level, its overarching purpose is to is to allow this area to be better connected to the broader City context and, in turn, to benefit from those connections.

This meeting will help us shape these projects and highlight the issues that are important for you in these and any future projects.

We have already held one workshop with the community on July 20, and we're now working through their comments on the Draft study. Up to 100 people from all the neighbourhoods took part in a lively discussion on the future of the area. Some wonderful idea were raised and some of the strong messages from this workshop included:

  • the need to preserve and highlight the unique heritage of this area
  • activating Walsh Bay with temporary installations - one suggestion was a barge between piers for performances or as a summer swimming pool and
  • better signage so that people can more easily connect to the city centre

Once we have your input, we will complete the Harbour Village North Public Domain Strategy for a report back to Council later this year.

We will define specific actions and partnerships to deliver this shared vision over the next 10 years. We will also identify any immediate projects we can undertake together.

So once again, welcome. Thank you for making the time to be here today, and I'll now hand over to Bridget Smyth, the City's Design Director.