Locals call for a ‘High Line’ on Sydney’s north shore

Residents of the Sydney suburb of Lavender Bay are pushing for a linear park to be developed along side a historic rail line that would provide a pedestrian link between Lavender Bay and Waverton Station.

Established in 2016, the Sydney Harbour High Line Association describes itself as “a group of like-minded people that sees the importance of building on the amenities to support the huge growth in the number of people living in Sydney in general and the lower north shore in particular.”

According to the Mosman Daily, earlier in April the association met with a State Government committee, where it presented its detailed plans for the publicly held land that lies beside the railway. If the project goes ahead, the park would be operated by North Sydney Council.

Proposed ramp access from Harbourview Crescent. Image: Sydney Harbour High Line

The heritage-listed rail line is not used for a passenger service, but is used by Sydney Trains for driver training. The site is significant due to its connection to artist Brett Whiteley, who famously painted scenes of Sydney Harbour from his home in Lavender Bay, adjacent to the railway tracks, as well as the “secret garden” created by Brett’s former wife Wendy. The Whiteleys’ house and garden were both recently added to the state heritage register.

Local state MP Felicity Wilson, who supports the project, told the Mosman Daily that she had “secured an agreement from Sydney Trains to explore the feasibility of installing a segregated walking track alongside the current active line.” The proposal is inspired by and takes its name from the High Line in New York City, an elevated railway conversion designed by Diller Scofidio and Renfro. This was in turn inspired by the first rail park, the Coulée verte René-Dumontin in Paris, which opened in 1993.

Originally Published by ArchitectureAU, continue reading here.

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Why do some Sydney councils encourage urban beekeeping but avoid handling complaints?

Sydney has seen an explosion in urban beekeeping with a 20 per cent increase in the number of people taking up the hobby in just a couple of years.

That’s great for the environment, with bees our most valuable pollinators for agricultural crops and even urban backyards.

But what if you have an allergy or reaction to bee stings, or a backyard pool where bees like to get their water and you need to make a complaint?

Tony Deguara lives in Sydney’s inner west with a backyard bee enthusiast neighbour over his back fence.

Tony told Curious Sydney his neighbour started out with two beehives, but the number increased to six meaning he was living next to thousands of bees as a result.

He asked: “Why do Sydney councils encourage urban bee keeping but appear to have no regulations to manage the hobby? Consequently if you have problems you have to go to the Department of Primary Industries [DPI]”.

That was the question ABC News in Sydney was asked to investigate through Curious Sydney, our series that reports on stories based on your questions.

Urban beekeeping in Sydney has grown rapidly over the last couple of years.

“I started having major problems with my neighbour — not because he was keeping bees but because he was keeping what I thought was an inordinately high number of bees,” Mr Deguara said.

“I made an enquiry with the local council to find out but they really didn’t want to know anything about it. They didn’t have any guidelines or regulations in place. They didn’t prosecute and they didn’t set up any situation where you could discuss this with your neighbour.”

Tony has a bad allergic reaction to bees. While not anaphylactic, they leave him with infections and swellings that last for weeks.

After the last sting, an infection in his foot required antibiotics.

When he asked his neighbour to reduce the number of beehives, initially his neighbour complied, but over time the number of hives crept up again.

Tony sought advice from his local Inner West Council to help him manage the issue, but the council redirected him to the DPI.

Curious Sydney found that the answer to Tony’s question is complex. Councils can manage bees if they choose to classify them under the companion animal act like pet dogs and cats, but each council has different rules.

Originally Published by ABC News, continue reading here.

Why I’m leaving Sydney, the city that actively punishes people for living in it

It was love at first sight when Sydney and I met properly a dozen years ago. I fell hard with the sort of giddy infatuation that makes it easy to overlook the odd flaw or two, and to blithely ignore those flaws even as they crumbled into mighty chasms over the subsequent years.

But now I’m ending things and moving out. And let me be clear: it’s not me, Sydney. It’s you.

But that wasn’t the tipping point – well, not completely.

There’s also the way that the city has been blithely looking to make a quick buck by selling off priceless pieces of its heritage – whether it’s the Sirius Apartments or the Powerhouse Museum – with no plan other than “how swiftly can we convert this public asset into private profit?” It used to horrify me, but that shock has long since curdled from anger to sorrow to deep, unrelenting disgust.

So has the deliberate scuttling of public transport corridors in favour of WestConnex, with the state government essentially imposing a new tax on the western suburbs for the privilege of being able to get to work. That perhaps more than anything shows precisely how little this place cares about the environment, its people or its own future.

There are a lot of little things that have been bugging me for a while. The wholesale destruction of the night time entertainment scene, especially for live music, on exaggerated public safety grounds that just so happened to free up prime real estate at firesale prices to be picked over by the government’s developer mates, was one sign of how little this city cares for the people that live in it.

Even the things that I love about the place aren’t enough any more.

Getting to the beach or the Opera House or the Art Gallery or Taronga has become longer and more difficult with roadworks and the future white elephant light rail. And trying to get about on the overcrowded trains with a toddler usually involves carrying prams up stairs at the station – a massive wheelchair accessibility problem which just about every other Australian city dealt with decades ago – making it comprehensively more hassle than it’s worth. What sort of city penalises its inhabitants for wanting to actively enjoy living there?

The biggest factor, though, was the most predictable. Housing prices – specifically, the spiralling rent increases since buying had long ago ceased to be an option for our two professional income household.

Continue reading on Domain.com.au here.

From Brownfield to Green Walls: The Creation of Central Park

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017.

Dr. Stanley Quek and Nicholas Wolff from Greencliff will be at this year’s Conference, discussing the origins of the awarding winning Central Park project in Sydney, developed by Frasers Property Australia and Sekisui House.

Working at Frasers in 2005 they identified the outstanding opportunity presented by the then vast Carlton and United Brewery site, bordering Chippendale and possessing a 400m frontage to Broadway, being the main western approach to the CBD. The property was in the process of being vacated and put up for tender by the long-term owner of the site, Fosters Group.

On the property was a ramshackled series of warehouses, administration buildings, powerhouses, a number of former public streets and a collection of mid-19th century terrace houses  – all with varying degrees of heritage significance and spread across some 5.8Ha. Having secured the property, Frasers faced substantial negative sentiment from much of the local community, a revolving door of state planning ministers, little initial support for the project at the local government level and a Part 3A Concept Plan approval in place for a masterplan which had its own unique challenges.

Stanley and Nicholas will outline the strategic thinking and actions –  including a commitment to international design excellence, a full and frank engagement process with stakeholders, a unique marketing strategy and an unwavering commitment to the inclusion of leading environmental sustainability initiatives and major public art installations – all of which led ultimately, to reversing the negative sentiment and turning the project into the extraordinary success it is today.

This year the International Urban Design Conference offers optional tours available on Wednesday 15 November. These will include visiting two of the precincts that have been designed and built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in April 2018.

Find out more here.

Liveability and Water in Sydney – A Clean River is a Fun River

When I presented at the International Urban Design Conference last year, it seems a lecture by an unknown urban water guy wasn’t exactly considered a “must see” session amongst the throng of planners and designer types.

Still, it appears that there has been enough interest in the slide pack that I have been asked for a chaser on where we are up to with liveability and urban water. I want to use the same “liveability game changers” from my presentation. So for this first post (one more to come) I’ll stick to “a clean river is a fun river” in this unashamedly Sydney focussed post.

Iconic waterways have always been essential to the Sydney-ness of Sydney. But as the city progresses west, small waterways previously ignored and hidden within a tangle of light urbanism, are becoming important landscape features. They can provide open space to break up density and allow recreation zones, contributing to the wellbeing of communities whilst reducing reliance on accessing Sydney’s beaches.

Phillip Birtles, Sydney Water

For the first time, waterways and city welfare are being recognised in city planning in Sydney. Each of the six Draft District Plans released by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) in December 2016 have sustainability targets that include waterway improvement.

Our Living River is an impressive collaboration of local and state government who have set the goal to bring swimming back to the Parramatta River. Their 2025 Masterplan work includes water quality, urban ecology, community survey, risk and economic assessments to detail a nuanced view of what “swimming in the river” means. From splash sites to offline pools to open swimming, all the options are being considered in some leading design work. This project is one to watch and is already influencing town planning policy for this region.

In the West, South Creek has emerged as “a key organising design element” for the GSC’s western city. Sydney has experience organising development around estuaries (like the harbour) but we haven’t done so well with small streams in suburbia that don’t have waterviews. It will be a true challenge to bring the South Creek vision to life. An exciting time for urban designers and water professionals alike.

Stay tuned for more next post exploring “all the water we need is already in the city” and “healthy communities are connected to their water”.

Article supplied by Phillip Birtles, Urban Water and Waterways Manager at Sydney Water