Log in

Forgot your password?

Coalition Chippendale Community Groups meet Minister Sartor

The Coalition Chippendale Community Groups meet with Minister Sartor and Chris Johnson the Chairman of the Expert Advisory Panel the minister has established to make recomendations concerning the CUB site. The report has been taken from a "News Update" produced following the meeting.


As promised here’s our News Update on the Carlton United Brewery site which follows our meeting earlier this week with the  Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, where we discussed the site and raised community concerns. 

This was the first time we'd had the opportunity to speak to the Minister following his announcement at a developer lobby group’s forum last month saying he was calling the site in, under Part 3A of the EPA Act.  

This legislation is fairly recent and allows the Minister to determine the planning controls for the site.  In calling the site in, the Minster's actions were not without controversy because this is the first time the Minister has called a site in from the Central Sydney Planning Committee (which approves large scale development in the City of Sydney LGA).   

Whilst the meeting was a little overdue, we're hopeful this will lead to further discussions. 

The key issues we raised were the extent and scale of development, an undertaking from the Minister to honour Council's previous commitments to the community (open space, the promised 5,000 square metre park and community facilities) and the process going forward. 

Specifically we asked that the process going forward provide genuine community engagement, one which resolves outstanding community issues rather than provide rhetoric. In response we understand a Stakeholder Reference Panel is being set up (please note Expressions of Interest to participate have been extended till Friday 21 July) with panel meetings to be convened in early August and a public meeting to follow.

In response, the Minister gave his undertaking in relation to the CUB Park, and here we emphasised the need for the park to be built as part of the first stage of the project, rather than delayed well into the project.  

Whilst we still hold grave concerns about the extent and scale of redevelopment as well as the process, which many have described as political interference, the Minister was refreshingly open, outlining his reasons for intervening and stating his intentions.

However, the meeting also raised some issues:

·        Is there a sufficient understanding of Chippendale - it's fabric, character, unique heritage, existing constraints and the challenges Chippendale faces from the scale of what's proposed?

·        What is the amount of the RWA levy?  Here we were unable to gain a clear understanding of the quantum, which is being allowed to affect the scale of the development.

·        A negative response to sustainable parking which we see as vital to improving local amenity and preventing traffic gridlock. 

·        A tight timetable for the process with the Minister looking to get out a proposal by September and the year end targeted for public exhibition.  This raises questions whether the timeframe will compromise the debate and outcomes, with only 6 - 8 weeks for the Stakeholder Reference Panel and public meeting feedback. 

·        A negative response to additional open space which is necessary to address forecast population growth, which is set to double if not triple Chippendale’s population.  Even with the provision of a 5,000 square metre park, Chippendale will still have the lowest open space in Sydney - only 20% of the minimum standard for the City.

·        A negative response to consider some land acquisition in Wellington Street, which immediately adjoins the site and could provide an innovative approach to reduce density and better integrate the site.  

·        The Minister's decision is final with no capacity to appeal.

At the meeting was also Chris Johnson, the Chairman of an Expert Advisory Panel and key staff, from the Department of Planning, who are responsible for the project.  As part of the requirements for the Act, an expert panel has been set up (or a Commission of Inquiry) however the Minister whilst obliged to consider the Panel's report we believe does not need to rely on it.

On the positive side, the Minister emphasised he didn't want to see controls resulting in high-rise slums with high street walls and gave a commitment to design excellence.  However on the negative side, we had a sense that the full extent from the redevelopment's impact on Chippendale's fabric and character was not realised nor the environmental constraints appreciated.   We felt there was a danger that Chippendale was merely seen as part of the city.  Whilst acknowledging the site is part of a transition zone from the Central Business District to Chippendale, the Minister indicated he didn't see Chippendale as an urban village but rather as part of the urban environment.  The Minister however made it clear he didn't want to see a result; like some high-rise in mid Ultimo-Pyrmont where street walls dominant streets and promised to listen to his Department's recommendations.  

Interestingly, Chris Johnson (former Government Architect who was previously on the CSPC CUB subcommittee) showed us sketches he'd illustrated looking at various vistas to the site - from Glebe, the Block and Central. Here we suggested he consider the local vistas such as Balfour Street as this was one of the important findings in the Jury Report for the previous Design Competition. 

In giving us some background information, the Minister acknowledged that as the City's former Lord Mayor he had stopped the "Balfour Street Park" from being built to the rear of the site (a park funded and approved by both the City and former South Sydney City Council) and confirmed he'd had discussions with Fosters prior to their announcement in April 2003 to sell the site.  

Explaining his intervention, the Minister stated he'd only recently decided to step in, after visiting the site and considering the draft controls prepared by the City, despite an approach by Fosters already last December requesting the Minister then call the site in.

Whilst we have continuing concerns about the process which is reliant on the Minister rather than the usual checks and balances, the Minister assured us he was confident that by implementing part 3A of the EPA Act, he'll get a better result (for the community) than that drafted by the City of Sydney.  

Importantly, the Minister said he wants to be able to drive past the site in 10 years time and see something you can be proud of, stating he is not looking to achieve a gross Floor Space Ratio (FSR), but rather looking for design excellence, despite acknowledging that Fosters want an FSR of 4:5 to 1 across the site.   This FSR is something experts say is unsustainable and inappropriate.  Indeed Council's own independent experts said a FSR over 3.5 to 1 is not sustainable and importantly this FSR still resulted in tower formations nearly 33 storeys high.

To achieve this, Minister is confident by using a "Concept Plan Approval Process’ this will lead to a better outcome indicating he wanted to open up the process rather have rigid controls which he described as resulting in street walls.  The Minister hoped this would then attract developers who will give the community a better outcome and talked about putting in place specific controls for parcels of land, rather than across the whole site.  If properly enforced this holds some merit, as it specifies controls for particular parcels of land, however at the moment we remain concerned that the scale and height of the development will be increased and key heritage buildings lost.  To ensure design excellence, the Minister is considering using design competitions for specific parcels of land, as part of the approval process.

Whilst the Minister gave his assurances about open space and parklands, his comments indicated some heritage (included in the new Conservation Management Plan) may be lost. We see the Minister using this as trade off for FSR, with the Act allowing the Minister to do so because the Act does not enforce heritage obligations.  Here we raised the concept of selling heritage floor space off-site, in order to reduce the density however his feedback indicated a market price deficiency.     

Concerns were also raised about the row of heritage terraces in Kensington Street which are owned by Fosters and will be part of the redevelopment.  Fears are held that poor maintenance by Fosters will result in "demolition by neglect".  Here we asked the Minister to see what he can do to save these buildings.  

Whilst we feel a better appreciation for the extent and scale of the redevelopment is needed, overall we were pleased with the meeting and the Minister's frank discussions and look forward to a genuine consultation process that resolves and allays community concerns.

Don't forget to tentatively keep Wednesday 2 August at 7pm free iin your diary - we're in the process of organising a community meeting to brief you about the CUB site and also discuss an exciting concept for an off road high volume pedestrian - cyclist route through Chippendale onto to the City.   We'll confirm this date and venue details with you shortly, once we know the meeting dates for the Stakeholder Reference Panel for the CUB site.  

From the Coalition Chippendale Community Groups (includes Chippendale Residents Interest Group, Friends of Carlton United Site and East Chippendale Community Group) email: communityworkingparty@yahoo.com.au