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Sydney Central Station at heart of multi-billion dollar redevelopment

OFFICE workers will be able to watch trains whizz past from their desk or apartment dwellers from their bedroom, under a new vision to build high rises over Sydney’s railway lines writes Vikki Campion Urban Affairs Reporter of the Daily Telegraph on July 12, 2013.



A proposed 3km long transport corridor from Central to Eveleigh proposed transport development in Redfern.

The 3km long corridor from Central to Eveleigh would open more than one million square metres of space to the market, making it the biggest urban renewal in Sydney, dwarfing the $6 billion Barangaroo precinct.

Plans launched today will pitch the plan to developers world wide.

The NSW Government is opening expressions of interest to global companies with expertise in building over train stations, to transform the train tracks into high-rise office, retail and apartments.

The vision includes seven major bike paths, a series of high density neighbourhoods from Central to Ashmore, and turning Redfern Station into a "world class transport hub".



Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said the plan would reinvigorate Sydney’s "dead heart" calling on developers to "knock on Sydney’s door".

Major cities including London, New York and San Francisco have redeveloped rail corridors with bridge construction technology creating platforms over the rail corridors, steel beams supporting concrete decks over the rail line or putting the rail line underground.

"We want the world knocking on our door, to come and show us their best for rejuvenating the heart of Sydney," Mr Hazzard said.

"There area only three crossing over the rail lines but building above the corridor will allow more crossings to unite Redfern and Ultimo. "

The renewal corridor runs from the Goulbourn St car park in the Sydney CBD to Macdonaldtown train station.

It has a 20 year time frame, with development to occur in stages.



The current location of a proposed transport development in Redfern.

The draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney calls for 114,000 new CBD jobs and tens of thousands of new homes by 2031.

"This has the potential to result in more homes and more jobs – all with existing transport links," Mr Hazzard said.

"This railway corridor could be revitalised with heritage buildings protected and given new life through adaptive reuse. Essential access for future transport infrastructure would be preserved."

Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson warned there was no developer in the world who could take it on as a single project.

"It would need to be divided up into a number of projects to make it a reality," he said.

"It’s very bold; it’s surprisingly bold, its big scale thinking for the government to bring in."

Mr Johnson said he was concerned the vision would be lost as the NSW Government hands strategic planning to local communities.

"70 storey towers near heritage buildings and high rise from Central to Macdonaldtown is unlikely what community action groups will be positive about.," he said.

"The cost of building over railways while they are operating is enormous. If community groups say can we make them four or five storeys there is no way they have a chance of happening."


Central Station

Central Station is set for a makeover. Picture: Bradley Hunter

The Property Council of Australia backed the plan to "activate the city’s southern gateway".

"We need to keep advancing game-changing initiatives that will provide opportunities for growth, urban renewal and investment," NSW Executive Director Glenn Byres said.

"Leveraging the Government’s own land banks and transport corridors to generate new jobs, homes and investment makes sense.  Market testing will help the Government establish short, medium and long-term options for renewal."

Mr Hazzard said it was an urban renewal opportunity unrivalled anywhere in Australia.

"We believe there is the opportunity for a world class redevelopment of the corridor on a scale that reflects Sydney’s global city status," he said.

"By building above the rail lines and on underutilised land we can potentially make available more than one million square metres of new floor space - double the size of Barangaroo.

"We expect strong international interest in the renewal of the corridor as it presents an engineering and redevelopment challenge that has not existed in Sydney for decades."



Commuters at Sydney's Central train station in its current form. Picture: Bradley Hunter

The Daily Telegraph understands the land has height restrictions under Commonwealth legislation as it is within the protected airspace perimeter of Sydney airport.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she would support a "strategic study" on future development of the Central to Eveleigh precinct but was concerned that the NSW Government was calling for unsolicited proposals.

"A major project on this site could join long-divided parts of the city and provide future capacity for employment, productivity and growth," she said.

"I’m concerned by the current trend for unsolicited proposals – a major proposal like this needs to go through a proper public process."

Ms Moore said Central to Eveleigh would take years and the new plan should consider future transport needs, strategic employment growth for the city, the potential for linking roads and streets, and for creating new parks and open space.