You are here: Home / Other RW Issues / University of Sydney / Uni Vice Chancellor Backflips

Uni Vice Chancellor Backflips

Residents of the small inner city suburb of Darlington fear being swamped by 7500 additional people and traffic as the University of Sydney prepares to lodge a Development Application with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure for a massive new business school reports this media release from RAIDD on 24 February 2012.


Artist Impression Sydney Uni Business School 2012

The development would take up three blocks and be up to 7 storeys in height, dwarfing the nearby Victorian terrace houses.

Residents are dismayed at an apparent backflip by the Vice Chancellor who promised in a public statement in July that an entrance to a new basement carpark for the development would not be built on Abercrombie Street to minimise the risk to school children attending nearby Darlington Public School.

In July 2011 the university’s Vice Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence said -

“In response to concerns from residents and parents of school children, we have relocated the entry point to the basement carpark from Abercrombie St to Darlington Lane and our traffic consultants are examining the traffic loading.” (South Sydney Herald July 2011)

“Latest plans for the DA still show the carpark entrance on Abercrombie Street close to the public school”, resident and mother of a student at the school, Mary Ellen McCue, said.

In Australia, pedestrian injury is the leading cause of death among 1–14-year-olds and locating a basement carpark entry so close to a school is not best practice. (1)

In a letter to the Vice Chancellor local group RAIDD (Residents Acting in Darlington’s Defence ) asked him to honour his promise to the community. They also argued that there should be no parking on the proposed development site because it would increase traffic flow throughout the suburb. The residents of Darlington already bear a greatly reduced amenity because of the large number of students who drive around residential streets seeking car parking, despite the fact that the University is well serviced by public transport.

The Seymour Centre carpark, owned by the University and just a short walk to the site of the proposed Business School, is significantly underused.

“It does not make sense for the University to build further carparks in Darlington; rather the University should investigate ways in which to make more effective use of under-used existing car parks and encourage students and staff to use public transport”, said resident and neighbour of the University, Colin Sharp.

Mr Sharp said that the current proposal to increase traffic in Darlington’s residential streets is not supported by the University’s Environmental Policy which states - 

2.5 Transport

The University aims to reduce the environmental impacts associated with transport to and from, and within, the University by encouraging staff, students and visitors to use environmentally-friendly means of transport, on and off campus.

“The suburb of Darlington has been radically altered by the University in recent decades and the residents have made and continue to make many sacrifices for the continued expansion and redevelopment of the University”, said Ms McCue.

The current proposed development, with the additional 7500 people it will bring into Darlington perpetuates the mistakes of the past. The interface between the University campus and residential Darlington will bear the brunt of high impact activities, such as traffic and parking, whilst the heart of the University, with its tranquil green spaces, will remain unscathed.

Last week the University unveiled a model of the proposed development and many residents were shocked at the massive scale of the project. The project is completely at odds with the heritage precinct in which it would sit and pays little regard to its surroundings.

The project does not reflect the City Of Sydney’s vision for Darlington as a pedestrian and cycle friendly village.

Residents are also very concerned that the University is not taking the heritage of the site seriously.

The site is located along the original Blackwattle Creek and has been the subject of pre-contact Aboriginal use and post-contact European use. Bore hole testing already undertaken by the University may indicate contamination at the site, which is also an indicator that archaeological evidence of convict tannery industries etc., also remains below the ground surface.

The whole site should be the subject of a thorough Archaeological Assessment, undertaken by a qualified Archaeologist, prior to the lodgement of the Development Application, as this may restrict the ability to redevelop key areas of the study site.

Residents are asking the Vice Chancellor to revisit the site selection process. Residents say that the site on Abercrombie Street, in the heart of residential Darlington, is inappropriate for such a large commercial development.


(1)     Child Pedestrian Safety: The Role of Behavioural Science  Donna S Cross and Margaret R Hall MJA 2005: 182 (7): 318-319