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Seven rates poorly with Alexandria residents

As Channel Seven’s new Alexandria studios near completion, residents have criticised the local planning authority for failing to address their concerns about the development reports Flint Duxfield in the South Sydney Herald in November 2009.

Alexandria residents say the Redfern Waterloo Authority (RWA) has kept them in the dark about the latest addition to the Australian Technology Park, which they claim will have a significant impact on the local area.

“There has been a culture of trying to push this through quietly without enough community consultation,” said Johan Palsson of Alexandria Street, Alexandria. “They did do some consultations early on in the development, but they were held at really ridiculous times when everyone was at work.”

According to Mr Palsson the development, which is due to be finished early next year, has overstepped the initial development application. “The building is three floors taller than the original master plan and it’s not at all in keeping with the heritage architecture of the area,” he said.

Of key concern to residents is the 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation of the site, which is expected to employ over 2000 staff and potentially have over 1000 audience members visiting the site each day.

Martin Bramble, a resident of Lyne Street for over 13 years, says that allowing the site to run around the clock next to a residential area is unacceptable. “The airport has a limit on when the planes can come in and go out, most bars have limits on when they can have customers, why should this be any different?” 

Seven’s Managing Director of Program Operations, Tim McDonald, says 24-hour operation is essential to allow Seven to meet its production deadlines. “There needs to be people on site working right around the clock to ensure the site is ready for the next day’s work.”

Mr McDonald says that while the exact number of people visiting the site will not be known until the shows are locked in, residents should have little cause for concern about noise from departing audience members.

The Seven Network will occupy half the building, with the remaining two studios being leased by Global Television, a freelance company that produces shows such as Australian Idol and Neighbours.

The Audience Management Plan prepared by Seven and Global Television states that “the number of audience members attending the site must not exceed 1000 persons at a time” but does not give any indication of how many people will be visiting the site each day.

Kyran Lynch, who’s lived in Alexandria for 20 years, says the 24-hour operation and uncertainty over the number of people visiting the site are serious concerns for residents. “They have four studios which can hold 500 people each in them which means there could be times when they are marshalling up to 2000 people in and out, and I find it hard to imagine they could do that without any noise or disruption.”

In response, the Director General of the NSW Planning Department advises that Basset’s Acoustics has prepared a report which indicates that “Generally the studio environment will be insulated from external noise sources which will provide for an effective attenuation from any internal noise sources … The noise generated by traffic arriving, manoeuvring and departing the site is also assessed as unlikely to exceed established criteria and the operation of the development will not cause any unacceptable noise impacts upon the surrounding locality”.

In relation to the issue of increased parking needs, Mr Lynch says, “If they don’t provide free parking, they will have to park on nearby streets, which will make it impossible for residents to find parking.”

The RWA has indicated that “Given its proximity to Redfern Station, it is anticipated that a significant number of the employees in the Channel Seven building will use public transport to get to and from work.”

“It is currently working with representatives of all involved to inform them of facilities and services to help them arrive at their new location. The RWA is also working with RailCorp and other transport providers, including the NSW Taxi Council to help make this arrival as effective as is possible.”

In relation to parking arrangements, the RWA says that “With the completion of the Channel Seven development, there will be around 1200 parking spaces at the ATP site on a daily basis, which will increase to around 1500 spaces for monthly special events … There are 350 public car spaces within the development which will be available for audiences. In addition, the existing public car parking at the ATP will also be available, which is just over 600 spaces.”

According to Mr McDonald of Seven, the media hub will bring “profile, buzz and activities” to the area. “It creates the opportunity for locals to be employed when shows ramp up, as well as indirect employment through local cafés, bars and shops,” he said.

Photo: Bill Sheridan – Concerned Residents of Alexandria

Source: www.southsydneyherald.com.au

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