Log in

Forgot your password?

Submission on North Eveleigh from Bruce Lay

This submission has been prepared from a resident’s perspective and from a professional planning perspective. Bruce is an architect, planner and a heritage consultant.


The master planning of Eveleigh North has been through many steps over nearly a decade, where principles have been derived for compatible development through community consultation with first the South Sydney and then the City Council and subsequently denied by State intervention. The planning and democratic norms have been disgracefully undermined by an incremental step up in the level of development and its impacts, ignoring the community, serving the developers and maximising the value of the land.  This is evidently not the last step; when sold, the developers will no doubt try for even more. The public interest has been totally subverted.

There was strong community support for the adaptive re-use for the Carriageworks, linked to low scaled development alongside and minimising traffic generation, which has now been betrayed.


The site contains a repository of railway history of national importance,

integral with the development of the railways. Any insertions should not disturb the character of the place and be in scale, if not deferential, as curtilage to a place of State significance.

The site is surrounded by a composite of principally nineteenth century Conservation Area suburbs that complements the railway story. It represents a symbiosis of living and working in one place, as an entity.

Consequently, for about 20 years, planning controls have controlled density, height, siting, landscaping, form and materials to sustain scale and character. The scale is principally two storied, sometimes with an attic storey with about a 50/50 site cover, mostly as private landscaped space and generally a FSR of 1:1.  This scale is appropriate to all parts of North Eveleigh. This is a net FSR, not including the public domain, open space, roads etc. Each developable parcel hence conforms. This proposal fudges this important facet and hence leads to a much higher net densities that thwart the scale and character objectives, as well as causing adverse amenity and environmental outcomes.

Apart from the FSR, and how it should apply, height is a separate issue.  There are many models for achieving low rise high densities.  Most modern urban housing is low rise. We are currently in Europe, hence the email - virtually all new development is low rise in scale with older core cities, mostly up to 5 stories. The only aberrations are the residual and horrible post-war estates, many of which have been demolished.

Planning controls should also be consistent within areas with similar characteristics  and be equitable in terms of tenure. With this proposal, the parts of the site being recycled fit the norms. The residual areas deemed to be suitable for development are way out of line with the norms. The net densities of these areas exceed by many times the norms, and heights do so even more. The result will be very damaging to the place, the public domain and to internal and external amenity.

We had assumed that the mistakes of post WW2 redevelopment have been learned in Australia as elsewhere, but there is a serious memory lapse with this proposal.

There are also probity issues with the State planning agencies setting controls selectively that hugely ramp up the value of lands to be disposed of. Other avenues are appropriate to pursue this issue.

The suggested scale to Wilson Street is essentially four levels with a lower storey below street level. This would be of limited viability for residential use. Another concern is how parking will  impact on height and bulk. The proposal is schematic and the developer will no doubt push the limits, unless they are firmly established.

This proposal suggests a lower scaled edge to Wilson Street is compatible and allows a large step up in height with setbacks. On flat terrain this may be the case to some degree, but this is not a flat site. The full height and bulk of the higher rise buildings will be apparent both from the slopes up to King Street as well as from the long views to the south. Newtown is a hill town, so that viewed from the south, including from the many passing trains, our building is a landmark. This all will be obscured and disrupted by the proposed buildings. Stepping the higher buildings only increases the impact. A uniformly lower height would be less obtrusive and would better sustain the shared amenity. This amounts to a major erosion of the quality and character of these suburbs and their collective heritage.

The amenity impacts include view sharing and climatic intrusion, particularly access to the sea breezes off Botany Bay We enjoy good views to the Randwick ridge across this site, which will be lost.  Our principal concern is however the damage represented by this proposal to the public domain, and the shared amenity.

That the character of Sydney substantially derives from being a built landscape is well understood. Buildings step up with topography and increase in height particularly along the ridges, hence dramatising the topography, as well as sharing the amenity benefits. This is a historic pattern, embodied in the planning controls for some decades, particularly to the Harbour edge suburbs where view sharing is apparently more valued that from other places. There seems to be amnesia about this issue also.

Your Director of Urban Design has articulated this in the past, but pragmatism seems to have surfaced with respect to Eveleigh and its communities.  It seems that these are considered able to be safely ignored.


This site has good northerly exposure aligned to Wilson Street for sun access, supported by the existing pattern of development. Buildings aligned principally for this aspect would be sensible, particularly they would also form a barrier against railway noise to the south. The constraints and opportunities of the site suggest closely spaced low buildings. The higher the building the wider the spacing for good amenity.  Hence the pursuit of high rise to achieve a high density is a fallacy. Its only purpose is to get good views, usually captured at the expense of others.

The proposal also has adverse energy conservation impacts. Buildings with a primarily east/west aspect are much more energy intensive as well as inferior for living. Higher buildings are more energy intensive to both build and maintain, as well as more expensive to build. Hence this is a poor model for sustainable housing except in extreme situations. Microclimatic considerations are also important in terms of minimising turbulance and winds in winter and allowing access to sea breezes to  avoid the need for air conditioning in summer.


Social and environmental issues are intertwined. Putting more than 2000 new residents, mostly at the western end of the site, in housing very different in form and character  from its surrounds, will ensure poor community development, as well as impede integration into a diverse and vibrant local community. It will remain an enclave. Most new residents are likely to drive on and off the site, unlike most of the locals. Additionally the proximity to the Carriageworks will ensure marketing is to high status and high income groups. It will not produce affordable housing or student housing, as has been suggested.


The site historically only had one vehicular access point onto Wilson Street close to but offset from Queen Street. This related to the tram system and reflected the very low level of vehicular access to the site, mostly by supply trucks. The workers either worked locally of came by train and tram.

Retaining only one access point at the extremity of the site for most of the new population, as well as to serve the Carriageworks complex is totally inadequate, hazardous as well as very inefficient, and it greatly increases the impacts.

It is a poor connection for the following reasons:

1)        It is circuitous and inefficient at the extremity of the site further removed from connections to the arterial system as well as to the City proper.

2)        It poorly serves access, particularly from the Carriageworks, drawing traffic through the new residential streets.

3)        It has a dangerous off set junction with Queen Street. This junction already has a high accident record.

4)        The connection at this point will encourage traffic to use Queen Street. Queen Street is a very narrow overloaded street already at its environmental capacity with frequent long delays at King Street.

5)        It will generate a large number of uncontrolled movements into Wilson Street conflicting with the most important radial bike route into the City from the south and southwest.

Both a dispersal and a relocation of the access is desirable. The previous Master Plan proposed access with a roundabout at Forbes Street. This is far preferable in terms of safety and serving the movements, while minimising intrusion into residential areas. This was inexplicably deleted in the finalisation of the Built Environmental Plan, with no community debate or accountability.  This is another probity issue, as your Department’s Director of Urban Design lives in Forbes Street.

In terms of more efficiently and safely serving the movements while minimising impacts on residents, the preferred access would seem to be at Golden Grove Street. This feeds directly into the arterial system and provides direct access to the Carriageworks. Grade differences have been used to support the existing access, but the  differences in grade are slight and not significant, given the substantial engineering and changes consequent of development of this part of the site.

In terms of equity and distribution more than one access point would be desirable. 


It has been fundamental with new development in existing urban areas that there be no diminution of services with development on a per capita basis. This area is very deficient in open space compared to even the norms of the inner city, which is any case much lower that the rest of the City. The general standard applied to new development areas adjacent to the City, such as Pyrmont Ultimo is 10 sq m /capita which is less that the rate in the adjoining areas of the City. New well-designed sectors such as Victoria Park have a very generous and high quality public domain, including parks comparable to Pyrmont Ultimo. Community acceptance of urban consolidation is consequent on the maintenance of such services.  Adding 2000 new residents mostly to the western end of the site should require at least 20 000 sq m of new open space. The previous Master Plans had new parks, which were not compromised by a privatised edge of high buildings, but are enhanced by public edges, roads, paths and landscaping.  There is virtually no open space in this scheme which is large enough for the public to use. The open spaces proposed are small, enclosed by hard edged housing and should be considered to be common spaces associated with the development and landscaping, not public open space.

The Newtown Darlington area only has one useful local park, Hollis Park, well used and developed but very deficient for a very dense area, and it should not be expected to serve this added population. A park of similar size and accessibility linked to Wilson Street should be a minimal requirement. There is a similar deficiency at the eastern end of the site. The proposed carve up of the rail fan with residual space between office blocks will not provide useful public space, but is cosmetic landscaping.

One must assume from the figures provided that many hard surfaced areas associated with the Carriageworks are being included in the open space calculation. Apart from these areas also being vehicular space and parking, their nature greatly limits their recreational value, not withstanding their heritage importance.


There has been a succession of Master Plans for Eveleigh North. Normally the community and the decision makers would expect some refinement and improvement in environmental and social outcomes from this lengthy process. Rather the converse has occurred. The community’s issues have been ignored and each plan gets more rapacious and developer driven, and the planning norms are set aside.

If this plan proceeds the new community will be a community apart or hardly a community at all.

Bruce and Sarah Lay

Wilson Street
Newtown 2042