Category Archives: News

West Connex invades Rozelle Bays Precinct

The next stage of the West Connex tollway project has been announced.  Rozelle residents have already received compulsory purchase letters.  The proposal looks like it will turn the Rozelle Goods Yards (a big par of the Bays Precinct) into a spaghetti junction of tunnel exits and flyovers to Victoria Rd and the Anzac bridge.

You can find more West Connex news here:





Rozelle-interchange-960x520-2 InnerSydney_LR_Orbital_Explained

Our submission to Urban Growth

The Bays area Precinct Coalition has put

a submission to Urban Growth

Submissions closed on  July 10th.
Read the submission here:
2015_07_10_BaCC Submission_Discussion Paper_Final

To read and listen to community input and views informing our submission click here

Check out the presentations from the Community forum:  community infrastructure 

Listen to local voices at the community summit

Our submission was emailed to

The Urban Growth web page

news from the forum

In a packed hall at Leichhardt Town Hall the speakers all presented well researched data and analysis of why time and time again social infrastructure such as public transport, schools, playing fields and childcare centres have not been included in all mega projects in Sydney over the past 30 years

First pic from the forum

First pic from the forum

Shortly we will put up the speakers presentations, interviews and photographs.

We have an extensive email list, members of which will receive regular updates.  if you have not yet registered  register here

West Connex newsletter

Latest news


WESTCONNEX Action Group (WAG) has called for an immediate parliamentary inquiry after internal government documents reveal the extent of the Baird Government’s traffic modelling lies.

Fairfax Media reported that internal government documents show WestCONnex traffic modelling will worsen congestion on King St, Botany Road, O’Riordan Street, Cleveland Street and Southern Cross Drive.

This contradicts claims made by the Baird and Abbott Government that the WestCONnex Tollroad will divert traffic off local roads.

“It’s clear that the public has been lied to by our Governments and the WestCONnex Delivery Authority,” said WAG spokesperson Janet Dandy-Ward.

“Their claims about the benefits of WestCONnex to ease traffic congestion are flawed and independent experts and community groups have been saying so for months.

“These internal government reports show that the WestCONnex Delivery Authority has been selectively choosing traffic modelling figures to deceive the public. 

“The truth is that iconic streets like King Street will be destroyed, people thrown out of houses and the health of whole neighbourhoods put at risk for a project that will spend billions of dollars on an illusion – a ‘con job’. 

“WestCONnex must be stopped from forging ahead with signed contracts before there has been an EIS for the M4E or duplicate M5.

“This process must halt now until a full business case is revealed and independent EIS and health studies are completed. 

“The public is not being served by this project so questions remain who is exactly being served by WestCONnex contracts and what are they getting for it. 

“A parliamentary inquiry will shed some light on this WestCONnex thought bubble that has been allowed to wreak havoc on communities and force people from their homes,” said Ms Dandy-Ward.

Media contact: Garth Montgomery 0408 864 851 

Urban Growth’s Planning Principles for the Bays Precinct

Click on the link below to view the statement from Urban Growth on the outcomes of its Summit and the 20 Planning Principles that it proposes for developing the Bays Precinct.


The publishing of these principles provides the community with a picture of intent and at last, gives the community a template against which we can evaluate plans, projects and overall strategies, as they emerge. But these principles raise more questions than they provide answers. For example:

  • Why are these principles to be applied only to the Bays Precinct? Why should they not apply equally to Barangaroo, Darling Harbour or any other harbourside development projects?
  • Who will monitor whether Urban Growth and the State Government actually abide by these principles and what sanctions can be applied for non-observance of the principles? CLEARLY AN EMERGING AND ONGOING TASK FOR BAYS PRECINCT COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS.
  • Finally, what will be the effect of excluding several of the principles proposed by the Bays Precinct Community and from the University of Sydney’s Festival of Urbanism?

We will be undertaking and publishing on this site a detailed analysis of the gaps that exist between the Urban Growth planning principles and those developed by the Bays Precinct community.


Good idea for Bank Street

The exponents of the Bays Precinct Urban Revelopment Project are keen to involve the community in all aspects of planning and implementation. However, a pervasive fear in the community is that this process will put on hold indefinitely all existing plans produced from community consultation.

One way to disarm critics and garner positive support for the project is to act swiftly to provide something that the community needs NOW and which is compatible with the larger enterprise.

One such project that suggests itself is the Bank Street Foreshore Park.

Click on the link above for details of this important community project.



The People’s Campaign to protect the ‘public good’ in Bays Precinct mega project has had one victory to date. (Let’s hope it is not our only one!) We got community members inside the Bays Precinct Sydney International Summit at the Australian Technology Park on the 19th and 20th of November and they made their presence felt.  It was a terrific Summit. I had been sceptical as to what could be gained from a series of brief presentations from overseas experts who had no (or little) knowledge of the Bays Precinct or the compromised political context around development in NSW. In fact almost all the presentations from the overseas experts were both fascinating and highly relevant. Urban Growth had gathered an impressive array of experts from around the world with hands-on experience of very similar urban renewal projects and their analyses of what worked and what didn’t was sharply relevant to our context and the Bays project.

There was good space for interaction and input from the floor – including capacity to text questions/comments to speakers and panels and to key in thoughts for the record. Speakers were available for further discussion at ‘talking tables’ between sessions- and they were packed. We made numbers of very useful contacts.

This was slightly marred at a few points when (local) chairs were unnecessarily dismissive of comments and questions from community members relating to the omission of the  Leichhardt Mayor from any formal role in the proceedings. (Mayor Rochelle Porteous did get some strong statements on the record from the floor.)

Finally it must be noted that it was a lavishly resourced Summit from every dimension: huge numbers of support people, security (not sure of the purpose), props, technology, documentation, and FOOD.

Lessons for NSW

The most positive and most exciting aspect of the Summit from our perspective was the broad affirmation from many of the international speakers of the core principles and values that the community has been advocating for years and which are now embodied in the people’s campaign. Many speakers flagged the imperative of upfront and ongoing community engagement if you want good outcomes in such projects and many described how one could both protect the public good and negotiate viable public/private financing and investment arrangements.

Some messages I extracted included: go for the best outcome FOR the world, not best IN the world; don’t squander this extraordinary site with consumption uses (eg mass housing) rather invest for productive uses; be cautious about rushing to build housing; use more sophisticated criteria than capital and profits for such a site; mix rich with poor-affordable and social housing featured in most redevelopments; go for quality ; make the shared commons the focus not a peripheral dimension; develop parks and public space first; recognise poor access to Bays site as a critical problem so action on access and transport infrastructure first; human scale for foreshores; don’t accept unsolicited proposals .

The CEO of UK Regeneration and currently policy adviser to the UK Minister for Cities drew applause from the audience with a throwaway line that she could not understand why anyone would contemplate demolishing the Glebe Island Bridge, given the Bays site had major access problems. She speculated if it was just pandering to a bunch of rich folk with super yachts.

It was very refreshing that across most of the international presentations (and some of the local ones) there was an uncontentious acceptance that the public good had a high priority in the planning and decision making for these kinds of sites.

The ‘imaginary’ 16000 housing units

The media furore about the now ‘disappeared’ 16000 housing units for the Bays was a bad look for the Summit opening. This was announced on the first day by the Treasurer. As we were convening to discuss future options from a ‘blank canvas’ this was a bit of an embarrassment for the Government and UrbanGrowth. Both the Premier and the Planning Minister Pru Goward used their welcoming addresses to deny any such figure existed and emphatically reaffirm the blank canvas was still blank.

This was good to hear. But it’s a little hard to believe. Either the Treasurer let the cat out of the bag or he was irresponsibly misbriefed by somebody. This is a major project which is part of an even bigger project. It is inconceivable that Treasury has not done extensive modelling around the economics and has not established a bottom line figure for the revenue return to Government.

Given recent experience, it is highly likely that the preferred modelling would incorporate quick returns that can be got from selling off public land to developers for high and medium rise housing. We will all have to wait to see what the emphatic statements by the Premier and Minister actually mean. (Housing will be an important part of the development of the Bays –but the question of where, for whom and how many units should be part of a considered and integrated plan and not a rushed grab for quick cash returns to Government- or profits to developers). But it did shake confidence in the Government’s management of the planning agenda once again.

Don’t worry about the finances!’

No community member heard the Treasurer make this statement as we were excluded from day one of the Summit where the key discussions on ‘financing and investment of major urban transformational projects’ occurred. I was very surprised and irritated to discover that this critical area had been carved out of the Bays Summit and segregated into an experts only event.

Obviously the financial and investment arrangements for this project will be a major determining factor. To exclude the community from this discussion was unacceptable and diminished the positives and the trust that came from –albeit belatedly – including us in the Summit. To date there has been no serious response to queries as to why this occurred. It felt a little like being kept away from the ‘serious’ stuff.

This unexplained exclusion of the mere citizens from the finance day does not augur well for meaningful engagement of the citizenry post the Summit.

Where to now?

It is not clear whether this largely terrific Summit was a bogus stunt, or a genuine effort to try  nd do things differently in NSW. We have strong assurances from the senior staff of Urban Growth that they are determined to be consultative and to oversee a proper process. The Premier and the Minister in their brief appearances at the Summit gave a similar message. But there is not much in past practice or current approaches to development to suggest a radical change of direction is in the air. Nor is it clear how much influence UrbanGrowth will wield in the longer run.

As a follow-up to the Summit, the People’s Campaign has put a number of specific and reasonable recommendations about principles, process and governance to Urban Growth and the Government for immediate action. The Government’s response will be an indicator as to how serious they are about engaging with the citizens of Sydney in the Bays project.

We have called on them to:

  • endorse and act on the community planning principles for the Bays Precinct Urban renewal Project.
  • diversify the composition of the UrbanGrowth NSW Board to include community and professional and academic directors to balance its current domination by developer and big business interests.
  • sustain the positive and consultative spirit that was strongly manifest in discussion and process at the Bays Precinct Sydney International Summit and immediately establish a meaningful and substantive consultative mechanism to engage the community/citizens of Sydney in the ongoing planning process for the Bays Precinct

UrbanGrowth is planning a Sydneysiders summit to be held after it submits a draft strategic plan on the Bays Precinct to the Government in April or May 2015. This will only permit a post hoc debrief , not an opportunity for further considered input to the draft plan. So we have called on Urban Growth to:reschedule the Sydneysiders Summit to at least two weeks before the delivery of the draft plan to the Government to allow the community to have direct input to and influence over the content of that plan.

As noted, financial and investment arrangements put into place for the Bays project will largely determine what is possible and who benefits from the outcome. NSW Governments increasingly abuse ‘commercial-in-confidence’ agreements to impose a cloak of deep secrecy over financial dimensions of development projects. When the projects relate to public assets this is an affront to democracy. It fundamentally compromises proper accountability and too often – as we have repeatedly witnessed in recent years- is an open door to corruption.

This excessive secrecy also deliberately obscures the relative outcomes for the public good and private benefit. We have therefore called for far greater transparency in this area:

  • Recognising that the Bays Precinct urban renewal project relates to publicly owned lands and assets, the People’s Campaign calls on the NSW Government to commit to a high degree of transparency in relation to financial arrangements and relative outcomes and provides accurate and meaningful reports on these to the citizens of NSW throughout and at the conclusion of the project.

Finally, having had no answer yet to our letter of 21/8/14 to the Premier and Minister, we again invited the Government to:

‘work with the people of Sydney to make this highly strategic, urban renewal project for the Bays Precinct a pilot for the restoration of integrity, transparency, community engagement and respect for, and proper protection of, the public interest into NSW’s planning and development processes.’

If the Government was listening to the clear messages from the international experts it brought to the Summit- we could expect positive responses to these requests.

Dr Lesley Lynch

Convenor Bays and Foreshores

The Glebe Society

Animating White Bay Power Station


This project proposal has arisen from the invitation by Urban Growth after the International Experts Summit November 19-20 to participants to make any further suggestions they felt useful. I am taking advantage of that invitation.

Before doing so, I would like to congratulate Urban Growth on a most successful and stimulating conference. I am sure very good things can flow from what was learned from both the excellent speakers and knowledgeable fellow participants.

The Proposal


This proposal is made in the spirit of the Community’s Planning Principles as developed over the last decade and endorsed twice in 2014. It closely follows from suggestions made in the first Community Plan 2006, the Community Reference Group (CRG) Report 2009-10 (SHFA 2010) and the Plan proposed by a group of  members of the CRG also in 2010. It also largely follows suggestions made in the report of the Bays Precinct Taskforce in 2012.

It is proposed simply as an INTERIM project and in no way is intended to pre-empt any longer term proposals for the adaptive reuse of the White Bay Power Station and the remaining wharves of White Bay itself. Such proposals must be subject to all processes determined through the Bays Precinct Strategic Plan and involve the community throughout.

The Context of the Proposal

White Bay is the area of the Bays Precinct where the water meets a dense population on the land but current arrangements offer local people no access to the foreshore or the water. We know that locals want access and we have been negotiating for it for some years, with a little success.

Speakers at the Summit, in particular during the long and rich session on White Bay, inspired me to make a suggestion. Many speakers said that small and temporary projects, which they called ‘meanwhiles’ in the case of the Tate Modern (Hyslop), are often critical in unleashing creative suggestions for overall change. These ‘meanwhile’ or temporary projects demand some public, and possibly private, investment but return hugely in terms of public familiarisation with neighbourhood change, increasing the range of available ideas, increasing goodwill and enthusiasm from the local community and visitors more broadly and possibly inspiring further sources of investment. Above all, perhaps, such ‘meanwhiles’ enable locals to begin what may be a very long process of rebuilding trust in a situation where there is currently little and where people feel deeply that no-one is listening or taking their needs, either present or future, into account.

The ‘Meanwhile’ Proposal

The ‘meanwhile’ I have in mind has two sources. On the one hand, it draws directly on my knowledge of what local residents and businesses have said over many years about what they both want and need. On the other hand, it responds to recommendations made by international expert speakers, most notably Hyslop and Randel but others too, at the Summit about mechanisms for community participation in planning urban renewal in precious areas of the Bays Precinct kind. The Bays Precinct is the most valuable urban renewal area in Sydney and redevelopment must be got right. This proposal is intended to help get it right.

The focus of the Summit segment on White Bay was actually the White Bay Power Station. The Power Station, in my view, is critically important as its adaptive reuse can offer a multiplicity of activities, including employment (recognising that Sydney is short of employment lands), and address the needs of both locals and a wide range of others. Equally important, it is the only current permanent magnet infrastructure and so the obvious focus of renewal activities, especially where employment is concerned.

But the Power Station is only part of White Bay and even early discussions should recognise that.

White Bay has two other components. One is the maritime activity area, culminating at the North end in the Cruise Terminal and Bailey’s marine refuelling, followed by a space which has diverse but essentially temporary uses such as storage of fireworks for New Year’s Eve. Towards the Power Station, the water becomes much shallower and there are no deep water berths, or even any berths. This area, closest to the Power Station, is currently totally unused. It is also a very narrow area of port frontage with no wharves. Finally, it is where the historic Bald Rock ferry terminal used to be located (the end of Buchanan St) and very close to the most densely populated area on the Balmain side of the BP. It is unfortunate that the Port Authority chose the very period of the Summit which was meant to start from a blank page to advertise leases of indeterminate length in this critical area, an area which has not been used for many years (see advertisement in the Financial Review of the weekend preceding the Summit) but this should be part of the negotiations which would surround my proposal.

My suggestion has several components and benefits.

First, the transport element. Locals have long wanted the return of the ferry service which was terminated by Ports some decades ago. Since the end of the ferry service, the population of the area immediately surrounding White Bay has enormously increased with the end of the industrial Harbour in the neighbourhood and the construction in its place of medium density apartments and townhouses which now house several thousand new residents as well as more established locals. Journey to work data tell us that many residents work in North Sydney, Darling Harbour and the City. They have difficulty using the current bus service whose vehicles not only have to join the huge traffic queues on Anzac bridge but which are usually full when they reach our area during commuting times. A ferry service is thus high on many people’s agendas. We have been working on this for some time. The new temporary Exhibition Centre on Glebe Island has the beginning of such a service but it does not come to White Bay which currently has no wharf and only operates on exhibition days. This is a waste. But it is easily remedied. Grant Gilfillan, the Head of Ports has already publicly expressed his willingness to provide access to the waterfront for a ferry service.

The ‘meanwhile’ proposed here would thus provide a valuable transport service, a ferry for locals to go to the city on their way to work and leisure. It would also service arrivals and departures for passengers using the Cruise Passenger Terminal on their way to and from the city and beyond. Such a ferry service would take cars and buses off Anzac Bridge. Speakers at the Summit agreed that ferries were part of the traffic solution for the Bays, which at present has none, and be especially good as a first start before the introduction of larger scale solutions.

Equally important, the ferry service works two ways. It can provide a popular and enjoyable way to bring visitors into White Bay and from there to the rest of the Bays Precinct. Bringing people from elsewhere in to see the Precinct for themselves  is fundamental to communicating the message that the Bays Precinct is for the whole of Sydney, not just people who live in the Bays, and even beyond. Enabling people to see for themselves further enables the message itself to begin to have real meaning and start creative discussions.

Speakers at the Summit said ‘Put on activities and people will come’. The ferry service gives them an enjoyable means to come. New activities at the Power Station give them the reason to come.

A Power Station ‘meanwhile’ provides those activities. Several speakers at the Summit session on White Bay advocated simply making the Power Station safe and opening it to the public for small scale activities as soon as possible. Those activities could be periodic, such as markets and seasonal fairs, recreational and cultural, such as small scale concerts, or more professional, such as creative activities, pop ups of various kinds, indoors or outside. Small scale research or prototyping could also be possible and use local skills as a prelude to many future employment solutions, whether in the realm of higher education, other cultural facilities, a green energy hub or hotel and retail – perhaps all these since the building is so large. These activities correspond well to existing local education and skills as well as interests and the needs of the future economy of the city. They also have broader appeal.

These activities could be enriched and the whole Power Station heritage and place in the development of Balmain in the past made clearer to the public by a light display on the walls of the Power Station which could be seen by everyone travelling on Anzac Bridge as well as locals driving in and out of Balmain.

Participation in these activities would thus provide the initial focus of interest for visitors who then begin to see the possibilities of a Power Station adaptively re-used and restored to its former glory. It would enable visitors to interact with locals, explore the area and think about the possible for this section of the Bays and beyond. Further it could lead them to imagine ways to achieve the desired future, to recognise the heritage value and the place of the Power Station and the Bays Precinct in the history of Sydney. More immediately, it also links different areas of the Peninsula with an industrial past and links the rest of the Peninsula and the Rozelle and Blackwattle Bay and Glebe sides of the Precinct in new and interesting ways.

These activities could start very simply. One speaker on White Bay at the Summit (Randel) suggested that just putting in a garden and a promenade would bring people in and begin the dialogue on the future. It was suggested that the Power Station be stabilised and then opened very soon to the public so people could begin to see what they have in the area, to value it and to offer suggestions for the future. The dust sift fence could be easily removed as it is no longer needed and the building properly shown off to the community.

Enormous benefit

I suggest in summary, therefore, that a small public investment in a ‘meanwhile’ or series of ‘meanwhiles’ of the kind proposed here could have a big impact on the smooth and interesting development of White Bay Power Station and its environment on many counts. By providing something of immediate and practical use to residents and business people, in this case a ferry service, with the possibilities of new activities alongside in what is now a very unwelcoming zone, this proposal would show locals that they have a lot to gain if the revitalisation of the Bays Precinct is both useful and exciting, improving amenities rather than imposing new burdens. But equally valuable, it would also create a focus for people from other areas and beyond to visit the Bays Precinct and begin to appreciate the possibilities. The fact that the Bays lands are an asset for the whole city has been a constant theme in local consideration of the area and Urban Growth and the government as a whole have emphasised this broader value. My suggestion thus aims to advance both the very local and much broader amenities and agendas and involve both locals and visitors.

Jane Marceau

White Bay Joint Steering Committee

November 24 2014