27 March 2017
The Hon. Melinda Pavey MP
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight
GPO Box 5341
Sydney NSW 2001
Elizabeth Bay Maritime Facility Upgrade: Review of environmental factors
I write to object to the proposed expansion to the Elizabeth Bay Marina and ask that the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) conduct only low-key upgrades to the facility.
Elizabeth Bay is located within a very densely populated area with few open space options, and changes to the marina will affect large numbers of people, including adjacent residents and users of Beare Park. The marina has historically been a low key facility in recognition of its predominantly residential location.
There is a long history of concern about proposed expansions to Elizabeth Bay Marina including the 2000 proposal for 16 new berths for boats up to 30 metres long and the 2010 proposal for 40 floating berths.
Size of Marina
The proposal would relocate berths from adjacent to the building and shoreline to behind the building along floating concrete structures about 40 metres wide, perpendicular to a concrete jetty that protrudes 80 metres out to sea. The floating structure will occupy 510 square metres of water surface compared to the existing structure which covers 40 square metres. There will also be a 20-metre sewerage pump.
There would be 13 berths instead of nine and these would accommodate much larger boats, including four 20-metre vessels which do not fit at the existing marina.
This represents a significant intensification of the marina. Twenty-metre boats can be up to three storeys high and accommodate large groups, who are more likely to have parties with loud amplified music. There do not appear to be any restrictions on when boats can arrive or depart at the marina which means boat parties with music could disturb residents’ peaceful enjoyment of their home, including late at night. The review of environmental effects indicates that two vessels per hour could depart at night.
A large number of residents are vulnerable given noise rebounds off buildings surrounding the marina, creating an echo. The review of environmental factors wrongly states that noise problems are not expected, based on the lack of existing complaints, because the planned marina will be bigger and likely have more noise impacts than the existing marina.
Larger boats will reduce public water views from the eastern parts of Beare Park, where local residents from the densely populated surrounding areas congregate for recreation and respite. Large numbers of people sit on the grass and picnic, read or sunbathe at Beare Park for peace and quiet and to socialise; their experience will be diminished if water views are reduced.
I share widespread community concern that the ‘artist impression’ drawings provided by RMS are misleading because they do not accurately show the maximum size of vessels, making the proposed marina look more low key than it will be. This is deceptive and an argument in favour of delegating assessment and decision on the proposal to an independent authority where there is no conflict of interest in approving the proposed development.
Public Harbour Access
Currently local residents who kayak, paddleboard, canoe, use water taxis or unload private boats, access the harbour through the wooden stairs on the eastern side, which have been there for over a century. These stairs are planned for demolition.
Without these stairs, I understand anyone who does not pay fees to the marina for a swipe-card will have difficulty accessing the water.
When the marina is closed, only the sandstone stairs from the park will allow open public access and these will be difficult for water taxis to access. Constituents tell me that they are also steep and not designed for launching watercraft, and will be dangerous to launch from, especially in rough tidal situations. They also tell me that when the marina is open and the floating pontoon and ramp are available, it will be difficult to get boards on to the facility from the footpath.
There is widespread and longstanding community support to retain public access to the foreshores and harbour. I understand the RMS is investigating options for harbour access and this must be a condition of approval. The harbour should not be privatised and anyone who wants to access the water should be able to at all times, as they currently can.
While there is community support for replacing the existing deteriorated marina and café structure, there is concern about the proposed increase to its size and visual impact. The review of environmental factors acknowledged the large number of submissions opposed to height increases and reduced plans from a 2.5-metre increase to a 1.6-metre increase and committed to further consideration at the detailed design phase.
However the proposed new increase remains undesirable given the location is a low-key, community public recreation park. The facility will cover a much larger floor area, increasing from 400 square metres to 530 square metres with two buildings instead of one and more activities in the building. Efforts must be made to further reduce the scale, potentially by removing some of the new purposes in the building.
Loss of access around the perimeter of the building from the relocation of outdoor seating to the waterfront will reduce integration between the marina and Beare Park. While I support the provision of seating behind the facility along the waterfront, this must be in addition to public space provided east and west of the building, or it will reduce the local character of the marina with water access enclosed and away from the rest of the community.
There is concern that the built structure brings development closer to the stormwater outlet adjacent to the beach and therefore will worsen rubbish accumulation on the beach following an outflow. Local residents call for a waste management plan to deal with this problem.
The proposed redevelopment is bordered to the east, south and west by a large number of high and medium rise apartment buildings. Noise from the bay bounces off buildings and echoes throughout, increasing levels and affecting more people.
Proposals to conduct intricate lifting activities, drilling of piles and hammering of piles throughout the night are alarming, and will impact on large numbers of adjacent residents.
The review of environmental factors allows for night works for up to two consecutive nights, separated by at least one week for a maximum of six nights a month. Suffering from poor or no sleep twice a week for up to five months would significantly interfere with people’s health, mood and general wellbeing. The area includes families with small children, frail elderly people who have health conditions and people who need to get up and go to work each day.
In a briefing with the RMS I was informed that there is no intention to undertake night works unless there are significant delays in the project, and only then following consultation with the local community. The review of environmental factors needs to reflect this and make further restrictions than those provided so that night works can only occur when they are absolutely necessary and following community consultation.
Closure of the car park for two two-week periods must also involve early notification of all local residents. Given that the car park provides unrestricted parking for residential parking permit holders and that many inner city residents don’t use or check their car every day, notices left on cars or at the car park may not be seen and the RMS should also letterbox residents in advance about closures to avoid unexpected penalties.
The extent of the construction zone, compound and staging area is not clear, preventing residents concerned about loss of open space during construction from understanding impacts. I understand from a briefing with RMS that construction is unlikely to occupy Beare Park beyond the area between the built structure and the car park. This should be clarified to residents at an early stage.
Exclusion of Ferry Service
A need for a ferry service at Elizabeth Bay was identified in the government’s May 2013 ‘Sydney’s Ferry Future’ strategy and a large number of Elizabeth Bay residents have signed petitions in support of a service. I understand the site of the marina was once a ferry stop.
While more work is needed to assess demand, if a service is determined to be appropriate, it is vital that plans for this marina do not prevent the most appropriate location for a future ferry. This requires the RMS to work with Transport for NSW before finalising plans to ensure the marina upgrade does not impact on future ferry services.
Consultation and Assessment
The assessment process does not include the same process that would be required under a council development application or environmental impact assessment and there is concern that this is an inferior process. I again ask for an independent, open and transparent assessment of the proposal through a development application to council or the Department of Planning and Environment.
These latest plans for renewal of the Elizabeth Bay Marina will reduce local residential and park amenity and are not in keeping with the character of the area; I ask that plans be scaled back.
Member for Sydney