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CUB Site Meeting 9th July 2008 – Coalition Chippendale Community Groups Comments

The Coalition Chippendale Community Groups has circulated the following background for the Fraser’s Exhibition and Briefing on their new Concept Plan for the site this Wednesday 9th July. While the Plans will be on display from 5pm there will be a briefing on the plans starting at 6.30pm. The Exhibition and Presentation is being held on site at the former brewery with entry from the main Gate on Broadway near the clare hotel. The text of the CCCG’s Chippendale News follows:


Hopefully, you may have seen flyers highlighting the Community Meeting this Wednesday 9 July, which has been organised by Frasers, the new owners of the former CUB site.

This meeting has been arranged in response to community representations for Frasers to make a community presentation to show the proposed changes to the Concept Plan.

FYI, new Plans were lodged with the Minister for Planning in May this year and are expected to go on exhibition for public comment any day.

We are however concerned that, as yet, the documentation for the amended plans is still not available.  As such we have written to Frasers urging them to make the plans available prior to the meeting.

FYI, a Concept Plan was approved last year, when Fosters (Brewery) still owned the site.  These plans were seen as controversial due to the amount and scale of the development proposed and lack of any environmental initiatives. 

For locals who may be new to the area - previous planning controls for the site allowed development up to 45 metres (say 15 storeys) with a 15 metre height limit (5 storeys) on the parameter. 

These controls were subsequently changed in response to representation from Fosters, to Frank Sartor, who now is the Planning Minister.  The Minister subsequently “called in the site”; then changed the height limits allowing multiple high rise towers and a substantial increase in bulk and scale.

This effectively “guaranteed” Fosters a financial outcome that could not be achieved without removing the height restrictions.  This action was contrary to the Jury findings for the Design Competition which clearly indicated the height and scale that is now proposed could not be supported.

In the case of the “Fraser” plans, the public will shortly get an opportunity to respond to their “Amended” plans which are due to go on exhibition for public comment.

We urge you to come to this important meeting - which is on between 5pm to 8pm. Enter from the Main Gate on Broadway (towards the Clare Hotel ).

Importantly, we encourage you to attend the briefing by the team of international architects at 6:30pm. Here you can raise your concerns and also hear local input.  From 5pm till 6:30pm, the plans can be viewed via a series of “storyboards”.

For locals not familiar with what a Concept Plan means - this is like a Master Plan which determines the land use, height and scale of the buildings, open space, parking and street layout. Importantly a Concept Plan does NOT lock in specific designs – rather may indicate which buildings need a design excellence outcome. So it’s important to remember designs you may see are likely to be only a design “impression”.

FYI, in April this year, Frasers gave a media presentation which showed their intended “Amended” Plans - this included some terrific design and environmental initiatives which the community has long lobbied for - “a visionary world class outcome”.

We are however troubled that the overall height and bulk has been increased - particularly along the site's external parameter. This was unexpected – indeed we had expected Frasers to reduce the bulk and scale of the development. In essence, these “Amended” plans showed one building less (from the “Foster” plans), however in turn the height and bulk on other parts of site was pushed up, despite expert opinion calling for a reduction in site density. Also the large floor plates which are now proposed effectively substantially increase population counts and the impact on local infrastructure.

Interesting the Government will get a big funding increase for the RWA (we understand the sliding scale goes up dependent on a particular gross floor space being achieved).

Whilst we don’t want to deter the wonderful environmental indicatives, it is important to understand the proposal in terms of its scale and what it means to the character of Chippendale and Broadway.  Typically, big developments like this have a team of consultants working for the developer, who will use interesting perspectives that may later not eventuate.

In short, the size and scale of the development is one of Sydney ’s largest – and very much at odds with the immediate area both north and south. Unfortunately this has the potential to set precedents for adjoining areas. As a comparison – the proposed Floor Space Ratio (density) is more than twice that proposed for Barangaroo redevelopment ( East Darling Harbour )! 

The challenge as we see it for Frasers is the price paid for the site –$208M.  We believe there can still be a good financial outcome for Frasers which ensures the design and environmental initiatives are included but reduces the scale of the development.

FYI, the latest information we have (from media reports and presentations we saw in April) indicate the plans include 10 major high rise towers - ranging in size from approx 30 metres to 120 metres (say 40 floors). 

Notably whilst the revised plans increase open space this is insufficient in terms of the increased usage. 

FYI, the latest information also suggests the number of people on site (residents/workers/students) may well be as high as 13,000 - this is a huge increase from 7,600 which what was already seen as too large. Bear in mind much of the open space will still be overshadowed.

Other changes include parking which is now mainly underground.  This enables the open space to be increased with green-friendly above surface transport modes.

On the negative side, there are still grave concerns about the impact on local infrastructure - ie having sufficient capacity to cope with the size and scale of the redevelopment. 

Concerns are also raised in terms of site contamination and whether the open space will be safe to use despite remediation works.

As indicated earlier, we have called on Frasers to make available all the documentation including key information ahead of Wednesday’s meeting - so that locals have time to be informed before the meeting rather than rely on “storyboards” at a forum where PR spin and confusion often occurs.  So far we have been told this cannot be done. 

In response we have today again written to Frasers, saying we see no reason why the documentation cannot be made available by Frasers on their website, as we understand there is no formal process that prevents a developer from releasing information before a formal public exhibition period commences. 

We understand that Council may be intending to use Wednesday's meeting to present interim plans for the Balfour Street Park - which were prepared in consultation with Frasers.  This land is outside the site and should be subject of a separate community workshop – as debate about these plans could easily sidetrack Wednesday’s meeting.  Locals may recall a previous community meeting when Fosters owned the site - when the meeting was distracted from the real debate (about the scale of the development) with a ‘red-herring’ over where the park should go.

Importantly, the Concept Plan is about a Master Plan - not a detailed design.

This may be your one chance to find out what is happening and make your voice heard. Likewise please let your neighbours and friends know about this very important meeting.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

Source: Coalition Chippendale Community Groups Chippendale News email communityworkingparty@yahoo.com.au