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CUB development to cast shadow over Chippendale

The history of Carlton United Breweries is one of mergers, acquisitions and continual growth, and the company is one of the success stories of corporate Australia reports Pam Dagwelin the South Sydney Herald of November 2008.

The inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale dates back to 1819 when William Chippendale was granted the area as an estate. It has been dominated by the Kent Brewery for over 170 years. The village atmosphere of the suburb has been endangered since it was announced in 2003 that the brewery (which was sold to CUB by Tooths & Co in 1982) would close in February 2005 and the 5.8 hectare site would be sold. Chippendale residents and business owners are determined to salvage what they can.

Since the then Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, approved the new owner’s (Frasers Property Australia) concept plan for the site in February 2007, concerns have been raised over a number of issues. There have been gains along the way – in the heritage and environmental debates, in the acquisition of more parkland for the existing community, in the reduction of car spaces, and in the funding of more affordable housing for the inner city.

Still, the locals are objecting to the $2 billion “over-development” of the site.

David Polkington of the Chippendale Resident Action Group says: “The situation was bad enough before, but now that Frasers have submitted an application to vary the Masterplan, things are worse.” The Combined Chippendale Community Groups (CCCG) say the amended plan seeks to increase the bulk and density of the development by between 8–10 per cent, resulting in an estimated $150m–$250m of extra profit for Frasers.

Due to the increased height of the buildings, local streets such as Abercrombie, Queen, Wellington, O’Connor, Kensington and many more, will be in shadow for most of the day. Main Park, the 5,000 square metre public park sought by Council as a condition of the original development application, will also be overshadowed, and it will be difficult for grass to grow.

Ownership of other open spaces such as the “open area” to the east of the Brewery Yard will not be retained by the City but will be privately held, offering little security of recreational space for future generations. Frasers also proposes that the new roads are to be privately owned.

The montage of pictures obtained by the CCCG clearly illustrates the huge bulk of the new L-shaped building which will run up Abercrombie Street – a 62 metre street wall dwarfing The Clare Hotel on the corner. The super-imposed view from City Road shows a massive structure looming over other already tall buildings, the whole vista looking like a scene from Gulliver’s Travels.

With commercial and residential blocks on this scale, the almost 2,000 car on-site parking area proposed by Frasers will be well-used, especially if a rumoured 24/7 supermarket takes up a tenancy offer. “This traffic will flow onto Broadway streets which are already grid-locked,” says David Polkington.

Greens Councillor, Chris Harris says: “Car parking allowances are too generous…and three times what the rest of Chippendale has voluntarily accepted. The area is better serviced by public transport than any other site in Australia.”

Linda Scott, who ran as a Labor candidate for the last Council election, is also concerned about the traffic impacts of the site. “I do think the Lord Mayor will have to work very hard to ensure the community can cope with the resulting traffic changes in the area,” she says.

Dr Meredith Burgmann, the ALP Councillor on City Council, says there needs to be adequate pedestrian access. “We don’t want to end up with a ‘gated’ community which will cut Chippendale in half.” She says she supports the residents in their concerns and has found the CCCG to be “knowledgeable and reasonable”. “They know there will be high-rise buildings on the site but the issues they speak of need attention,” she says.

Cr Harris says that if the changes to the concept plan are approved, the density ratio will be 33 per cent more than that recommended by the independent studies commissioned by the City in 2006. The Greens do not support the increase and “if the Minister [of Planning] relents and approves the over-development she should ensure that the affordable housing levy is increased together with the contribution to the City of Sydney so that public facilities can be expanded and upgraded.”

Following the 30-day public display of the amended plans in August, the new State Minister for Planning, Kristina Keneally, accepted submissions for and against the changes from residents, Sydney Council and State agencies. A spokesperson from the Department of Planning said the submissions had been passed to Frasers for a response and when that comes back “the Department will finalise its assessment of the proposal”.

The SSH was unable to obtain an answer as to when the final decision was likely to be made.

Demolition of the site will be completed by the end of 2008, and Stage 2 will begin in 2009 with the pouring of the concrete building slabs.

Photo: Ali Blogg - The view over the CUB site

Source: South Sydney Herald November 2008