Blackwattle Submissions

Hands off Glebe Inc
P.O. Box 145, Glebe NSW 2037

Revitalising Blackwattle Bay

Submission from Hands off Glebe Inc

In 2017, following a large community meeting in Glebe, the Glebe Grapevine agreed to develop a survey and this was done with some assistance from the office of the local MP Jamie Parker. 6,000 copies of the Grapevine containing the survey were letterboxed across the suburb.

The views of respondents included the following:

There is a passionate commitment to preserving Wentworth Park. Residents were strongly (60%) against any loss of green space and the loss of any trees. Concern was also expressed about the park becoming shaded on four sides by high rise developments….

With recent large residential developments in and around Glebe already congested roads have become even more crowded.

It is clear that any development of these areas of the Bays Precinct cannot progress without the development of an integrated traffic plan that deals with traffic congestion and plans future traffic flows….

There is majority (54%) opposition to any high rise residential and/or commercial development on the foreshore….

There is strong support for any housing built in the area to include affordable and public housing.

93% of respondents wanted some public and affordable housing while only 7% wanted only private housing….

The report on the survey included 15 priorities expressed by our community for the Bays Precinct development, including:

There must be no privatisation of public land.

The Bays Market District and commercial/residential buildings must be designed and built without compromising Wentworth Park, with no loss of trees and no loss of green space.

An integrated plan covering expanded public transport, traffic flows, cycle ways and provision of increased parking areas must be an essential element of the Bays Precinct developments and must be in place concurrently with other design and planning elements.

The traffic plan must include dedicated public transport — bus, ferry and light rail — to the new Bays Market District.

The development of commercial and/or residential buildings on the shore line must be low rise. High rise is not to be allowed in this part of the Bays Precinct. (Limit to 5 storeys)

Any residential development must include 20% affordable and 20% public housing.

Serious attention must be given to providing full and free access to the foreshore and walkway for the disabled.

This submission from Hands off Glebe Inc regarding the 3 precinct plan scenarios Is based primarily on the views of our community as outlined above.

HOUSING

The brochure states that “5 to 10% percent of the new floor space in Blackwattle Bay will be dedicated to affordable housing.”

As noted above, the Glebe community survey called for 20% affordable and 20% public housing in any residential development. However, before COVID-19 hit, there were about 50,000 people on the NSW public housing waiting list. It is estimated that a rise in unemployment to 10 per cent by the end of the year 2020 could send up to 8,000 more people into homelessness.

In our view this situation calls for a far greater investment by the NSW Government in public housing.

We also note that Principle Eleven (page 9) calls for: A place for everyone that is inviting, unique in character, socially inclusive and affordable. The absence of any reference to public housing means the claim to be socially inclusive and affordable is not convincing.

Apart from its potentially significant role in the post-pandemic economic recovery, public housing has many other advantages. Access to public housing provides stability and lowers the risk that vulnerable families become homeless. It decreases housing stress and by limiting housing costs, public housing leaves families with more resources for expenses like child care and transportation as well as basic needs like food and medicines.

Quality public housing helps create a stable environment for children, contributing to improved levels of school attendance and educational outcomes. Public housing located near public transport can help low-income residents save money, access better jobs, improve health and reach critical community services.

The number of homeless and unstably housed seniors is projected to grow, creating serious health consequences as they often face declining incomes, increased medical costs and housing that may not be designed for their needs. Quality public housing can promote better mental and physical health, improved quality of life and independence for low-income seniors. For frail seniors and people with disabilities, public housing enables them to remain in their home communities and avoid or delay moving into nursing homes or other institutions that are much more costly for state and federal governments.

Hands off 6lebe Inc is therefore of the opinion that the housing developments in Blackwattle Bay must be at least 50% public housing.

BUILDING HEIGHTS

The Glebe community survey shows a strong commitment to low rise development in the Bays Precinct with a maximum built height of 5 storeys.

We are therefore appalled to see that scenario 1 envisages heights of 18 to 44 storeys, scenario 2 heights of 13 to 45 storeys and scenario 3 building heights of 19 to 45 storeys. All the suggested design concepts will inevitably create an alienating concrete wasteland that will undermine the government’s vision of building an inclusive and iconic waterfront destination that celebrates innovation, diversity and community.

With such high rise developments there is no hope that the rejuvenation of the Bays Precinct will create spaces that sit well with our Glebe Village lifestyle but also expand our horizons as more visitors arrive and more opportunities for employment and leisure are created.

We hope that the Bays Precinct will indeed become a place that contributes to healthy, prosperous and resilient lifestyles.

We do not want our bay and its foreshores surrounded by high rise buildings created for profit rather than to meet the needs of the people of Sydney. We want low rise homes that are a mix of public housing, affordable housing and private housing, reflecting the current rich diversity in the inner west.

We note with concern that Principle Two (page 9) refers to minimising additional shadowing to Wentworth Park. It is hard to see how shadowing can be avoided with residential blocks of up to 45 storeys. Wentworth Park is being gradually surrounded on all sides by high rise towers and the Blackwattle Bay scenarios add to this increasingly unacceptable pressure on this invaluable environmental and social resource.

TRANSPORT

Principle four (page 9) suggests that the precinct plan should prioritise movement by walking, cycling and public transport. While Hands off Glebe Inc supports this, it is not clear if public transport is seen as a method of delivering people to the precinct — whether to travel home or for work or leisure – and/or for movement within the precinct.

This lack of clarity could be solved by acceptance of the call in the Glebe community survey for an integrated plan covering expanded public transport, traffic flows, cycle ways and provision of increased parking areas.

We note that scenario 1 includes private cars. It is our view that the need for additional parking within the precinct and pressure on roads and lanes make this proposal unacceptable.

We believe the community will be best served if priority is given to dedicated public transport — bus, ferry and light rail.

Hands off Glebe Inc is in sympathy with the transport option outlined in scenario 2 — a pedestrian and bicycle focused, car free sequence of urban spaces with buses, private and service vehicles, taxis interfacing at the edges of Blackwattle Bay – provided that due attention is given to access for wheel chairs and motorised chairs.

OPEN SPACE

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 9 square metres of urban green space for each person and also suggests that an ideal amount of urban green space could be as 50 square meters per person.

Given that scenario 3 proposes building 1045 homes which we can assume will house at least 2 people, the WHO minimum would be 18,810 square metres and its ideal 104,500 square metres. The green space figures would be higher for scenarios 1 and 2 which propose 1700 and 1160 new homes respectively.

The Renewal of Blackwattle Bay brochure claims that its plan includes more than 30,000 square metres of new quality public open space.

The brochure states: Renewal of Blackwattle Bay will deliver new green space to promote active and healthy lifestyles and provide gathering places to socialise. The foreshore promenade will be an accessible and open path for a range of uses including walking, jogging, cycling and skating …  We envisage that the Dragon boats will continue to maintain a presence at Bank Street and it could also include multi-purpose outdoor courts and a playground. (page 23)

While all this is welcome, Hands off Glebe Inc has major concerns: The 30,000 square metres include small parks, roads and pathways. While this may be appropriate for the uses mentioned in the quotation above, where is the open space for football, cricket and similar exercise?

Perhaps it is assumed that Wentworth Park is able to provide large open space for such exercise. However, the park is already overused and its space should not be included in any Blackwattle Bay precinct plan, explicitly or by implication.

Corporate Marina

The map on page 22 of the brochure shows a corporate marina, but without details and no explanation of what it is for. Is it to provide more “super yacht” berths and increased government revenue? Could it evolve like the ‘temporary’ marina in Rozelle Bay that was to disappear after the 2000 Olympics but is still there? Other mapped areas portray marinas for the fish markets and day-charters. Some alienation of public access to the waterfront could result from any of these, contrasting with the strongly expressed view of the Glebe community survey that there must be no privatisation of public land.

Hands off Glebe Inc believes that all marinas and all other services in Blackwattle Bay must be freely accessible to the public.

DISABLED ACCESS

The Glebe community survey gave emphasis to the need to provide full and free access to the foreshore and walkway for the disabled. However, the brochure makes no mention of this essential service.

In conclusion, in our view none of the 3 scenarios present a vision of a revitalized Blackwattle Bay that would satisfy the needs and wishes of our community. The precinct plan should therefore be fundamentally rethought to include:

  1. A commitment to low rise and no high rise residential buildings
  2. At least 50% public housing in all residential developments in the precinct
  3. Additional new open space suitable for group exercise activities
  4. Greater priority to public transport within and outside the precinct within an integrated plan covering expanded public transport (bus, ferry and light rail), traffic flows and cycle ways