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REDWatch email to City of Sydney Councillors

Below is the text of an email sent to City of Sydney Councillors and key staff with suggestions on how Council might be able to assist the community around the Paint Shop Precinct and potential sale.

Dear Councillors

Thank you to the five Councillors who attended the REDWatch public meeting last Saturday. It was good to see the interest from a wide spread of councillors.

With Council meeting prior to the end of the Paint Shop exhibition, REDWatch thought it would write to all councillors. We are doing this because, apart from Council taking up the issues of concern to the community in its submission, there are probably some other things that Council can consider regarding the TAHE proposed rezoning and sell off of North Eveleigh’s Paint Shop Precinct that might make a difference.

REDWATCH is sure Council planners will pick up the planning issues noticed by the community in its submission. Like it or not, Council’s submissions have more clout than those from the community, so it is important also that the Council submission and Council’s broader response also picks up the wider community issues.

On a heritage constrained site, pushing up of the FSRs by 40% is massive. The consequence is that the state listed Paint Shop with an “Exceptional” heritage significance gets a proposed 5 storey building on top of it. An earlier proposed for 10 storeys with a 16 storey tower becomes two towers of 28 and 26 storeys, because that extra floor space has to go somewhere.

REDWatch also notices that the site wide FSR allocation is extended over some SP2 state infrastructure land which was not permissible in the previous proposal for this site. The fact that the final FSR allocation will be left to DPE to decide through the design guide, rather than set in the LEP, should also be of concern.

Usable public space in Darlington / Eveleigh is an area that Council should have an ongoing interest in preserving. The open space in the proposal is not zoned recreation, leaving open the possibility that it may be used for other purposes in the future. If the site is sold in a similar manner to the ATP then public space may be controlled by the purchaser. In the case of ATP it will be 25 years before public walkways and spaces come back to Council.

REDWatch can see no basis in the proposed controls for the 30% diverse housing mentioned in Minister Stokes announcement, only for the 15% affordable housing. This site needs to deliver a greater social and affordable housing dividend and in particular for the area’s Aboriginal communities in line with the Redfern Waterloo Affordable Housing Campaign.

REDWatch would expect Council will argue it should be the rezoning authority not DPE. In Waterloo, Council did a public campaign about Council being excluded from planning parts of the city and gained control of the process for a period. In the lead up to a state election Council might like to consider if it should do a similar campaign over this site and some of the other sites removed from Council control.

An area where Council could act, irrespective of the planning controls submission, is to lobby Minister Stokes about the delivery of the pedestrian bridge connecting North and South Eveleigh. It is currently outside the rezoning and not funded, even though TAHE / TfNSW are divesting the sites on both sides of the railway line that it would link. Irrespective of the zoning outcome, Rob Stokes as Minister for Active Transport and Infrastructure is the one who could deliver the bridge and if we can’t get him to do it when Transport is focused on the two sites then the chances of the community on both sides of the railway line getting a bridge are minimal.

When the NSW Government went to sell ATP, REDWatch asked Council to undertake an independent risk / benefit analysis, to make sure that all the risks and opportunities could be identified. Council could also do the same for North Eveleigh Paint Shop Precinct. It was from this analysis that REDWatch pushed UrbanGrowth to put in place positive covenants and easements on heritage access, public access etc. which protected community access through privately owned land and has made Mirvac more cautious about encroaching on public areas like Innovation Plaza.

Another option could be that Council facilitate a forum around the wider Eveleigh Heritage and the impact of the proposal on heritage. Visible for the first time, we have an overarching Conservation Management Plan (CMP) that predates the current proposal. REDWatch hear that the NSW Heritage Council and at least some people in the Heritage Office are opposed to the proposal.

The Paint Shop comes under this CMP and a focus on the CMP might even see the Heritage Office able to attend and talk to the overarching CMP. There are State Heritage Listed Items impacted. Convening a heritage meeting might allow some of those who find it difficult to speak individually to join a chorus about what is happening. It could possibly be organised through Lisa Murray, the City Historian. You would not get this off the ground before submissions close, but it could amplify the heritage concerns and make TAHE and potential developers more wary about their plans.

The rezoning is the first step to what will follow, REDWatch thinks Council’s best chance of impacting the outcome is to deal themselves into the wider fight about the future of the site and not just make a submission on the rezoning.

REDWatch recognises that there are lots of sites in play throughout the LGA, but potentially these sites could be used as other examples as to why Council should handle them like they did in Waterloo. Yes, the DPE PPA gave LAHC 10% extra floor space, but it was the Council design framework that was the basis for the final approval.

Finally REDWatch is not sure how open the Planning Minister is to Council concerns but as this is the first TAHE project, it needs to be recognised that the decision as to what will be proposed will come from the Transport Cluster, and hence Council, needs to also pursue community concerns through that cluster as well as DPE.

Thank you all for your ongoing interest in our community and the Paint Shop proposal. REDWatch hopes these suggestions are useful in Council’s consideration of its response to the proposal and to the sale of the site.


Geoffrey Turnbull


REDWatch Co-Spokesperson