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Bruce Lay Letter on Eveleigh markets

The following letter was written by Bruce Lay to lord Mayor regarding the Eveleigh Markets Christ Markets. It raises a number of issues from the day.

Dear Clover,  

The first Eveleigh North Market was an interesting test of the gap between intent and outcomes. As you know this is a community deeply distrustful and frequently betrayed by a State Government intent on ramping up development and making money to fill its empty coffers, long on PR and short on performance, and hence saw this beginning as a test particularly of the rhetoric about minimising car use and maximising other modes.

The market was a great success as a people event, swarming, colourful, wonderful; people streamed past our front door all day, family groups as well as the sassy young. It was very much a marketing as pleasure and consumption, particularly the eating drinking (coffee) rather than serious produce shopping, everything was madly overpriced on this score; which must underpin the question as to whether it will endure.

The locals, who must have been the majority walked, a minority went by car, and created total havoc in the neighbourhood, the transport intent was totally thwarted. We attach some photos as testimony. 

There were endless build ups on Wilson Street as cars double parked and queued both at the Wilson Street entry and at the Codrington roundabout. It was high conflict, dangerous, and tempers flared. It was hideous for bikes (this being known as the inner-western bicycle freeway) who weaved between the every which way cars. Many attempted to turn onto the site, mostly thwarted as only stall holders were supposed to park on the site. As it turned out quite a few shoppers did anyway. The management largely failed, much of the supposed ‘surplus’ land was used for parking. Locals used to walking through this site ignored the attendants who attempted to corral them to the Codrington Street (absurd and bound to fail). Instead a safe pedestrian route into the site from the western end should have been provided. The shuttle bus was laughably inadequate to the task and much slower than on foot. It badly failed the transport as well as the safety tests. 

Unfortunately the City must bear some of the responsibility. The approval of the Carriageworks was tied to the existing access on the western end of the site, as an interim (cost saving) measure and the RWA says it is stuck with this consent. The City must review this issue in consultation with the RWA.  

While there are many unresolved issues with the North Eveleigh Masterplan, at least the former Minister Sartor, had the nous to agree at the site meeting convened shortly before his demise that the access point to the western end of the site and to the Carriageworks complex had to be re-visited. This has not been done. 

The current access dates from an era when the complex was serviced mostly by rail, including by the workers who did not live locally. Only a few trucks went through these gates to serve the industrial activities. It is an uncontrolled intersection, off centre from a narrow local street, at capacity, Queen Street, at the most inefficient point in terms of servicing the demand and feed back onto the arterials. The obvious point of access is onto the roundabout at Golden Grove Street where it can feed back onto Abercrombie and City Road, with least impact on residential streets. The RWA has stubbornly refused to seriously examine this issue, arguing ramping distances. This is a nonsense of course Sydney is full of interesting solutions to steep topography around its waterfronts in particular it presents an opportunity rather than a constraint for a good urban designer. However the RWA has always used the cheapest consultants and got predictably mediocre outcomes. The closed limited competition that product the neo-Stalinist concept for the site, is a case in point. 

We obtained written advice from Stapleton Transport Planning supporting the access at Golden Grove Street, which we are happy to furnish. A change to either a threshold or a signalised intersection is also necessary at both Codrington and Golden Grove, particularly for bike and pedestrian safety. 

The other side of this which must be re-visited is public access to the Carriageworks complex (it seems every week another activity gets shoehorned in there) – that would be fine if development on the balance of the site is benign. It is absurd that the entry is at Codrington and everybody goes there first, but there is no drop off for cars, taxis, the disabled, or buses, and they trundle on for a couple of kilometres with vastly greater impacts onto the site to be dropped much further from the entry than otherwise. There must be a bus and taxi lay by constructed in Wilson just west of Codrington, and disabled parking in the adjoining bays; and this should be done soon, please? The RWA sees this as necessary but passes the baton to you. 

The angle parking adjoining the Blacksmith shop, was one of those ill-considered decisions of the former South Sydney Council. It narrowed the carriageway and was traffic management on the cheap, and it provided all day parking for Sydney University. It also destroyed the potential beauty and unity of this street as an avenue like for example Bourke Street in Surry Hills. This was implemented without consultation with the residents of the area; and seriously compromises the Wilson Street bikeway. I understand the City is proposing to remove the angle parking and reinstate the parallel, parking, but the sooner the better. The angle parking is of course fully used during the day, servicing the University very nicely and mostly vacant at night, even when there are events on at the Carriageworks. The parking capacity needs to be scaled back in any case. The angle parking must go if not for any other reason, for the safety of the bikes. Cyclists in this city are used to be treated like vermin, but it is great to see the City seeking equity. 

And, the City needs to devise better parking management for events to prevent the chaos and lock-outs evident on Saturday. If you were not already parked there was no chance of a park within several hundred metres of most houses within cooee of the site.. This is not winning hearts! 

All of this underpins the total trepidation in this community about the outcomes for the so called ‘surplus’ bits of this site, particularly the RWA’s propensity to ignore the planning norms for the area; hence the case we have made for at least a token review by way of the EDO process. Given the cynicism, the locals back overwhelmingly the Sydney University approach, not for any love of what they have done to Darlington over the years, or for wanting to be subsumed by that great but very self-serving institution.  

So we are asking you and the City to do two things: 

1.      Examine the vehicular access issue to serve both the Carriageworks and the western end of the site (no matter what the uses it will need access and parking). 

2.      Review the issue of bus, taxi, and disabled access to the Carriageworks and re-configure the Wilson Street frontage at Codrington accordingly to achieve equity, safety, and efficiency in that order. 

We will ask the RWA to commission a Transport Strategy for the site to honour the stated intent of minimising car use and maximising non-vehicular modes to the site. We will also ask them to put some bike parking at the  entry of the Carriageworks. 

And, wishing you the compliments of the season and some time out! 

Bruce (for Bruce & Sarah Lay.

Copies to: all Councillors, the Minister for Planning, the Local Member Carmel Tebbutt, the RWA, Redwatch, MASSBUG, and the North Eveleigh Residents Network. 

The first market was a great success, but a transport failure.

The first market was a great success, but a transport failure.

Raffety’s rules at the Wilson Street entry.! 

Raffety’s rules at the Wilson Street entry.!



At Codrington – this is the inner-wests major bikeway! 

At Codrington – this is the inner-wests major bikeway!