Concerns about government position on Pyrmont precinct

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Concerns about government position on Pyrmont precinct

Questions have been raised regarding the NSW Government’s recent comments of the development of the CBD fringe town of Pyrmont.

At a media conference last week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian phrased the “Western Harbour” area, which prominent features Pyrmont and also covers Ultimo on the eastern side of the ANZAC bridge as the ‘the next frontier’ for Sydney.

The Sydney Morning Herald have outlined several areas of concern regarding the development, which particularly focus on decisions related to zoning, building heights and the mixed use of residential, office and community areas.

With the Greater Sydney Commission, the government’s main planning advisor, handing down a report over the weekend, its key recommendation was for the government to spend up to 12 months developing a strategy.

However, with that being said, Planning Minister Rob Stokes is expecting much higher building densities. “We can support larger-scale development,” he said.

He also said that he might locate one of the stations for the Sydney West Metro in the area in a bid to ease congestion. The Herald purport that if this to take place then building heights should be raised around the station.

The Herald also raised concerns on Mr Stokes comparing the Pyrmont development to the recent redevelopment of the nearby Barangaroo.

Pyrmont is known for its rich history and tight connectivity of its existing buildings, whilst Barangaroo was an empty region now covered in ‘Dubai-style glass towers’, with the Greater Sydney Commission calling for a ‘places strategy’ which acknowledges the area’s unique qualities.

The state government will be acting as developer for the main sites in the area given it owns the existing Sydney Fish Market and the proposed new fish market on Blackwattle Bay, the Powerhouse Museum site and the bays precinct.

This is another concern for the Herald, who believe this presents a potential conflict of interest for the state, which will gain from any changes allowing higher density.

Population booming in the area

The population of the Pyrmont area has increased sevenfold to 21,000 in the past 30 years with the new development set to increase the population greatly, which may be present another shifting of the landscape’s identity.

The Greater Sydney Commission review was commissioned six weeks ago following the rejection of an application by Star Casino for a $500 million residential hotel development rising 237 metres above the site.

It was found by the department that the development was out of character with the area’s existing 10 to 15 storey skyline and heritage features.

The commission rejected any site-specific decision on Star Casino in its report and urged the government to set broad rules for the wider area, which was commended by the Herald given its aforementioned concerns about the conflict of interest by the state regarding its ownership of significant property within the area.

The Herald recommend setting up a credible planning body for the area as the key issue for the government. The commission have said the new plan should involve deep community consultation and input from local councils and consider “the individual character and potential of sub-precincts”.

They also believe the body that ends up managing the planning of the Pyrmont precinct must adhere to a clear process and that is essential that key decisions are inspired by a long-term vision rather than quick profits for developers.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister, Rob Stokes seems to concur with this notion.

“We can support larger-scale development and maintain the unique heritage nature of Pyrmont – it’s not an ‘either/or’ choice.

“However, we must plan for the precinct strategically, rather than on a site-by-site basis, to ensure the long-term liveability and sustainability of the area” he said.

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