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How they will breathe life into Redfern - 30.11.2004

Two new road tunnels, a $35 million upgrade of Redfern station and a new residential development in the Eveleigh goods yards are central to the State Government's transport plans for the inner-city suburbs.

Families, businesses and shops will share three new towers built on Redfern station, transforming it into the suburb's town centre and business hub, similar to Chatswood.
The $200 million tunnels will follow Cleveland Street, freeing east-west traffic and improving access near the station, the site of nearly 100 road accidents in the past five years.

The plans are spelled out in the cabinet papers revealed by the Herald yesterday, reaction to which has been strong.
The Minister for Redfern-Waterloo, Frank Sartor, said the plan to renew Redfern was still a work in progress and no final decisions had been made. "The Premier has asked me to think outside the square, to come up with new ideas and that is exactly what we are doing," he said.

The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, said the plans, the details of which she did not know, only intensified her concerns about the creation of the Redfern Waterloo Authority, which she called the "most draconian" agency she had encountered.

The authority, which will be led by Mr Sartor and have Councillor Moore as a board member, will drive the redevelopment of 340 hectares and have the power to override councils and heritage laws and to annex land.
The bill for its creation is before the Legislative Council.
"This sets a frightening precedent and threatens to spread amoeba-like throughout the city," Cr Moore said. "He [Frank Sartor] can cherry-pick the most valuable development sites, and then act as a consent authority without having to comply with planning laws."

The director of the NSW Council of Social Service, Gary Moore, said one proposal to sell two thirds of public housing land in Redfern-Waterloo to private developers was not acceptable.
"What came as a surprise was the scale of the plan and the specifics of it," he said. "The authority should be required to do a robust social impact assessment."

Architects have drawn up several plans for Redfern station. The most favoured would see it flanked by three 10- to 14-storey office and residential towers.
The largest tower would be built on Lawson Street, "with retail space on the ground floor, seven levels of commercial space and five levels of residential development", the papers reveal.

Nearby, a 12-storey residential tower would sit at the front, curving on the edge of the station, with another 10-storey tower on Gibbons Street. Linking the towers would be a retail plaza covering half the station.

The project would cost close to $35 million, but this could be covered by the sale of government assets, and the involvement of private-sector developers. In fact, the Government might even turn a profit, the papers say.

At Eveleigh, the goods yards would be gutted to make way for a village with room for 518 one, two and three-bedroom homes, and 44,000 square metres of commercial floor space.

The papers also show there are six tunnel options. The preferred northbound two-lane tunnel would divert traffic from Gibbons Street, go under Rosehill Street and part of the Block before emerging 580 metres later on the corner of Dangar Place and Abercrombie Street. It would have a likely speed limit of 70 kmh and require an emissions stack. The second tunnel would start at Regent Street, near Mortuary rail station, and end 480 metres further along near the intersection of Boundary Street. It would not need a stack but would still have fans.

After hearing the tunnel plans in August, the Premier's Department asked the Roads and Traffic Authority to come up with a cheaper alternative.
The RTA came up with a $20 million pedestrian ramp, 135 metres long and three metres wide, which would straddle Gibbons Street and Regent Street, with pedestrians alighting on Redfern Street.

By Debra Jopson, Gerard Ryle and Darren Goodsir

Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald
November 30, 2004 page 1 print verson