The truth the Daily Telegraph won't print

It's disappointing the Daily Telegraph has again chosen to ignore the facts they were given by the City of Sydney and run another misleading story and editorial.
To suggest we are not delivering projects is nonsense. The City has completed more major projects than any other local council in NSW.

We undertake hundreds of projects at any one time and the vast majority are completed on time and on budget. In the last 10 years, we've completed more than 250 major projects, which have won more than 50 national and international design awards and are much loved by our community.

We are now currently working on 370 projects as part of our ten-year capital works plan, which are at various stages of planning, design or implementation.

When undertaking projects the City has to abide by legislation set out by the State Government which adds to the time it takes to complete projects. This includes a process we have to go through to source and award tenders for the work, Development Applications and obtaining approvals from the State Government.

In most instances, our projects are delayed because we have had to wait for approval from various state government bodies.

I believe you have the right to the truth, even if the Daily Telegraph refuses to publish it.

Below is what the Daily Telegraph asked us and our response to them.

WHAT THE DAILY TELEGRAPH ASKED US:

Can I seek comment on why Trigeneration, which first came to Council in 2009; has still not resulted in a trigeneration project being delivered even though Council said in August its green infrastructure expenditure includes $61.3m on Trigeneration masterplan and various research reports.

Can I seek comment as to why other council projects on the list (see below) were delayed or not yet delivered?

The list:

  • The Green Square Pool, which first came to Council in 2005; still not built.
  • Prince Alfred Park Pool approved in 2006; due to be re-opened in November 2011 but not completed until May 2013
  • City Farm, which first came to Council in 2009; still not built.
  • Skateboard facilities, which first came to Council in 2006; still not built. A 2006 report recommended construction of four new skate facilities at Prince Alfred Park, Surry Hills; Sydney Park, St Peters; CBD, Sydney; and Green Square. Still not built.
  • Kent Street Cycleway which first came to Council in November 2012; yet to be completed.
  • Affordable Housing. 1,411% growth rate required to reach target by 2030; in the six years between 2006 and 2013, the City only added 174 new affordable housing dwellings, but requires 9,385 to be built over the next sixteen years by 2030.
  • Reg Bartley Oval Lighting and Fence Upgrade, Elizabeth Bay, first came to Council in March 2013 and due for completion January 2014; still not delivered.
  • Argyle Street Improvements, Millers Point, which first came to Council in 2012; still not delivered.
  • Chinatown Public Domain Improvements first came to Council in June 2009; still not wholly delivered.
  • Mary O'Brien Reserve, Zetland, upgrade first came to Council in 2012; yet to be delivered after due to re-open in March 2014.

CITY'S RESPONSE TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

The City has completed more major projects than any other local council in NSW.

The City undertakes hundreds of projects at any one time and the vast majority are completed on time and on budget.

In the last 10 years, the City has completed more than 250 major projects, which have won more than 50 national and international design awards and are much loved by our community.

The City is now currently working on 370 projects as part of our ten-year capital works plan, which are at various stages of planning, design or implementation.

When undertaking projects the City has to abide by legislation set out by the State Government which adds to the time it takes to complete projects. This includes a process we have to go through to source and award tenders for the work, Development Applications and obtaining approvals from the State Government.

In most instances, our projects are delayed because we have had to wait for approval from various state government bodies.

The City does everything it can to ensure projects are completed on time, but we will not cut any corners or compromise on quality.

Trigen:

State and Federal Governments changed regulations which reduced the economic case for sharing trigen between buildings. The City then changed the scope of our project and is now assessing tenders for a trigeneration plant at Town Hall House.

As part of the development of the project, the City has also undertaken numerous independent technical and economical investigations.

The City is lobbying federal and state government regulators to review rules that make it financially unattractive for businesses to generate or share electricity between buildings.

The $61.3 million includes a future allocation of $51.1 million for trigeneration projects over the next ten years.

Green Square Pool:

The site for the centre is prone to major flooding. Sydney Water (a state agency) took years to agree to improve the drainage in the area. The agency recently agreed to undertake that work and it will be funded by both Sydney Water and the City. The centre can then be built.

The City will announce the winner of its design competition for the new Green Square Aquatic Centre next month.

The City has five other aquatic centres.

Prince Alfred Park Pool:

The Nov 2011 end date was for an older design of the pool. As part of the project, the design was changed to what is now the current facility.

The project was affected by unseasonable wet weather (300 days of heavy rainfall - the highest recorded in Sydney since 1959) and contaminated soil at the site.

The Pool, now open, has been awarded nine times for its design, is on the shortlist for two more awards and is one of the most popular facilities in the city area.

City Farm:

The Sydney Farm Community Group, which has more than 1500 supporters on their mailing list, is working with the City on the delivery of the farm.

Plans are moving ahead. City Councillors recently endorsed the business plan for the farm.

A master plan is now being developed that will go to council early next year. This will include design of the farm and further community consultation.

The farm will then be developed on site and is expected to be open late 2015.

Skateboard facilities:

The City maintains and operates four dedicated skate facilities, and is investigating a fifth facility in the Johnston's Creek parklands near Harold Park in Glebe.

Council formally resolved not to proceed with a skate facility at Prince Alfred Park as it is reaching capacity with other facilities including a pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, playgrounds and fitness equipment.

A new Plan of Management for Sydney Park was recently completed which allows construction of a skatepark.

The City is also advocating for new skate facilities on NSW Government land. We've asked the state government to open up a disused site on William Street as a possible skating venue, as well as within the six hectare park at Barangaroo.

Our submission to the draft Centennial Park Master Plan called for possible skating facilities in the north eastern corner of the park near Oxford Street.

Kent Street Cycleway:

The State Government, which has to approve all cycleway projects held up work on the City's bike network for nearly two years after coming into power in 2011.

The release of the Government's City Centre Access Strategy finally signaled their support for the construction of a bike network and work is now underway. The entire cycleway will be completed early next year.

Building a two-way cycleway through the city centre involves extensive consultation, design, approvals, project management and construction including the relocation of critical underground services like power, traffic signals, light poles and storm water.

Since 2009 the city has built 12 new kilometres of separated cycleways. Each part of the project has required approval from the State Government.

Affordable Housing:

The City has a 2030 target for affordable housing and we have a number of strategies underway to help us meet that target. We are on track with what we can do under current State legislation.

The City has used all policies available to us under State legislation to increase affordable housing. This includes an affordable housing levy in Pyrmont and Green Square, voluntary planning agreements such as the one we have in Harold Park and site specific planning controls.

Further progress is limited by State Government restrictions. We want the State Government to allow us to extend the affordable housing levy to other areas in the city - but so far our request has been refused.

As part of the City's work at least 900 new affordable housing units have been built or are being built, including:

  • Fifty as part of the Harold Park redevelopment;
  • One hundred at Green Square on the former South Sydney Hospital site;
  • Over 100 as part of the Common Ground development at Camperdown; and
  • Around 550 under the City's affordable housing levy scheme which applies to developments in Ultimo, Pyrmont and Green Square.

Reg Bartley Oval Lighting and Fence Upgrade:

We postponed the works to co-ordinate with the annual regeneration of the turf in the Oval which occurs at a time that there isn't a lot of demand for use of the Oval.

The City also undertook extensive consultation about the project.

The works are now being completed, the lighting was installed last month and fencing panels are currently being fabricated.

Argyle Street Improvements:

This project is on track.

Design for the project commenced in June 2013.

The project is in a heritage precinct that requires State Government approval; it involves land partly-owned by State Government agencies and we need their owner's consent. Work is also dependent on the State Government plans for new bus operations in the city centre, which we are awaiting more detail on.

A development application for a new park and other works in Argyle Street will be lodged next month.

Subject to planning approvals, construction will begin mid-next year.

Chinatown Public Domain Improvements:

This project was always planned as a staged project.

The City has already delivered award-winning projects in Kimber Lane, Factory Street and Little Hay Street, which were completed in 2012.

The next project is Thomas Street which will begin early next year. It was delayed while we waited for approval from the State Government.

While some aspects of the project have now been approved we are still awaiting on the approval of a traffic management plan by the State Government.

Mary O'Brien Reserve:

A developer is providing the park as part of an agreement with the City. They took longer than expected to provide adequate documentation to an independent site auditor to confirm that the site had been adequately decontaminated for use as a park.

That has now been completed and the official opening is on Saturday 1 November.

Major projects since 2004:

The City has completed more major projects than any other local council in NSW.

In the last 10 years, the City has completed more than 250 major projects, which have won more than 50 national and international design awards.

The City is now currently working on 370 projects as part of our ten-year capital works plan, which are at various stages of planning, design or implementation.

LIBRARIES

Surry Hills Library and Community Centre

The City of Sydney's outstanding library and community centre has put Australia on the architectural map by being awarded the Best New Global Design award at the 2011 International Architecture Awards in Chicago.

It has also won the:

  • National Award for Sustainable Architecture and National Award for Public Architecture at the National Architecture Awards;
  • Public Architecture Award, Milo Dunphy Award for Sustainable Architecture and John Verge Award for Interior Architecture at the NSW Architecture Awards;
  • Environmental Excellence Award at the Urban Development Institute of Australia's NSW Awards;
  • The Green Globe Award for Local Government Sustainability at the NSW Department of Environment's Awards;
  • Excellence in Construction - Public Building Award at the Master Builders Association Awards;
  • Award for Excellence in Sustainability at the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating Awards;
  • Sustainability Award at the Building Product News Awards;
  • Second place in the Emilio Ambasz Award for Green Architecture;
  • Finalist in the National Interior Design Awards;
  • Finalist in the United Nations World Environment Day Awards;
  • Finalist in the Banksia Environment Awards;
  • Highly Commended in the Asia Pacific Property Awards;
  • Highly Commended in the Interior Design of Excellence Awards; and
  • Highly Commended in the Australian Timber Design Awards for a NSW Public/Commercial Building and Best Use of Timber Panels.

POOLS

Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre

Designed by architect Harry Seidler and opened by Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP in 2007, the $40 million facility includes an Olympic-sized pool, leisure pool, program pool, fitness centre, steam room, sauna and café. Won the Aquatic and Recreation Institute's 2009 Facility of the Year.

PARKS

Harmony Park

The 7,000 sqm Harmony Park was developed on the former Energy Australia construction site and Police Centre car park.

Paddington Reservoir

Won the Australian Institute of Architects - 2010 Lloyd Rees Award for Urban Design and the AIA Greenway Award for Heritage. It also won the AIA 2010 Australian Medal for Landscape Architecture and the Prime Minister's award for urban design as well as international recognition from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum, winning their Award for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

Pirrama Park and Redfern Oval

Both received AIA Awards for Urban Design, 2010 and Pirrama Park won the National Landscape Architecture Award for 2010.

Sydney Park Children's Play Area, Wetland Five, Kiosk and Amenities

Amenities building received an AIA 2010 commendation for Small Project Architecture, and the "all-abilities" playground was awarded for excellence by the Landscape Contractors' Association of NSW and ACT and commended at the Wilson Pedersen Landscape Awards, both in 2010.

SYDNEY TOWN HALL RESTORATION

Awarded a commendation in the AIA Greenway category for Heritage for our heritage-sensitive essential services upgrade.

2010 AIA Architecture Awards:

The Lord Mayor received the President's Prize in recognition of the City's sponsorship of innovative and sustainable public projects and its promotion of design excellence in public architecture.