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Green light for rail yard high-rises

THE State Government is expected to release up to 10 hectares of land to the commercial and residential property market within months, having approved a plan to convert heritage buildings at Redfern's North Eveleigh into high-rise towers reports Wendy Frew the Sydney Morning Herald's Urban Affairs Reporter on January 31, 2009.


Artist impressions of the North Eveleigh development.

Artist impressions of the North Eveleigh development.

However, expectations of raising more than $100 million from the sale of public land that once housed the city's carriage workshops look ambitious, with developers deferring or abandoning projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars because of the credit crunch.

The Minister for Planning, Kristina Keneally, this week approved plans by the Government agency the Redfern-Waterloo Authority to build 1200 homes, office blocks and five parks.

The revised plans make some concessions to residents, who wanted more open space, but overcrowding and traffic congestion remain a concern.

Darlington residents had been "sold out" and the development was little more than "a blank cheque for Treasury", said Bruce Lay, a resident and urban planner. "This is a very narrow strip of land; the houses nearby are terraces … 16-storey buildings are not compatible with the area."

The University of Sydney has long wanted to expand its growing campus to North Eveleigh, and the difficulty developers face in raising finance may strengthen its position.

Ms Keneally would not comment on how the economic slowdown would affect North Eveleigh but said its proximity to the city and Redfern station meant the area had the potential to become a key inner-city area. "There's no question there are planning challenges for the area: preserving heritage but achieving the site's potential; creating growth but accommodating current residents.

"The plan … would strike a balance between these challenges, and at the same time recognise the site's worker and railway history."