12 September 2019
(Presentation to Pyrmont Planning Review, 12 September 2019)
Pyrmont is a thriving inner city hub that demonstrates what can be achieved if high density living is properly planned for.
Levies under the Ultimo-Pyrmont plan have delivered hundreds of affordable homes and this has created diversity and vibrancy. Social housing tenants and affluent residents with harbour views all live in harmony together as a strong cohesive community.
While Pyrmont is one of the most densely populated areas in the country, it has retained a unique identity and vibrant community feel because of good planning decisions particularly around public space: Harris Street is an attractive food and beverage strip; Pyrmont Bay Park regularly hosts the Pyrmont Growers Market; and Union Square is a community meeting place.
Pyrmont-Ultimo is home to many thriving creative industries, including many digital co-working spaces. These industries are drawn to the close proximity the area has to the central business district and its village character in contrast to the towers of the CBD. These are economic growth industries.
Pyrmont is already plagued by serious traffic congestion and lacks public transport. Development in Darling Harbour has blocked direct walking links to the city.
Pyrmont’s scale is at the appropriate level. Any attempt to increase the density and plod high rises in the peninsula to create a crammed and characterless super-dense precinct on the fringe of the city will harm the community and residents’ health and welfare.
Of great concern is that this review of Pyrmont planning provisions – provisions established by the local council in consultation with the community – has been sparked because the planning department opposes Star Casino’s desire to build a massive hotel residential tower on its site.
The tower breaches the LEP and would have a sundial affect over Pyrmont, overshadowing Union Square, Pyrmont Bay Park, footpaths and homes. The proposal doesn’t come from any strategic planning and the residential purpose has no connection to the casino’s core purpose. Its aim is blatantly to deliver a massive windfall to the casino.
Residents are also worried about the fish market site and The Bays Precinct. A rushed review of local planning laws is not the appropriate mechanism to determine the right mix and density of these sites.
Ad hoc planning will only lead to unhealthy communities with lack of public space, traffic gridlock and windy, sunless streets that people want to avoid. The Greater Sydney Regional Plan already sets out how to achieve residential and jobs growth in the area and further work should come from council and the community.
The peninsula has transformed from industrial to mixed use in a short period of time to become one of the city’s most desirable places to live and work. A casino’s plan to make money through a tower on its site should not drive any future phases of change in the region.
The Pyrmont community is overwhelmingly outraged over the original proposal and there is an attempt to override an independent planning decision.
For planning controls to be changed to allow this inappropriate casino tower and open the door for other inappropriate high rise development across the pristine harbour-front peninsular is spot rezoning.
This review is occurring because one casino operator has tower envy of their competitor and has engaged in a concerted media campaign to change the rules for their own profit. Any genuine plans to review planning controls in the Pyrmont peninsular must not be rushed, involve greater community and expert consultation, and be done in close collaboration with the City of Sydney council.
Information on the Greater Sydney Commissions Planning Review is available HERE.