City News

Mobbs: Sydney to reach breaking point

Central Park in Sydney / Photo: Katherine Longhurst

A Sydney expert in sustainable living has cast doubt on the capacity of the city’s infrastructure to withhold the string of large-scale, State Government-approved urban developments.

Michael Mobbs, a Chippendale-based author and environmental consultant, is concerned the CBD’s transport system will fail to cope with the influx of people stemming from the line of developments taking place from Barangaroo to Central.

The long-awaited Central Park development in Broadway opened last week, while large-scale developments have been approved for UTS, the Sydney Entertainment Centre, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo.

“When you multiply Central Park by another 4,800 people down at Barangaroo and another 4,800 people at Central, you’re looking at another 30,000 to 50,000 people when you include all the other projects in this area,” Mr Mobbs said.

“The fact is there has been no ‘whole of city’ analysis on whether the transport system will cope. The current indications are that it’s not going to work.

“Unfortunately it’s easy to be seduced by the glamour of tall buildings and foreign money coming into a casino, and ignore what happens at ground level.”

Mr Mobbs compared the State Government’s plans to that of the 1970s government of former NSW Premier Sir Robert Askin.

“Under the Askin government, the plan was to raise The Rocks and Kings Cross and put freeways through there and huge high-rises,” he said.

“The government eventually abandoned it because there’s no way the transport system could get people to and from those projects.

“Add another 20 per cent of traffic and I just don’t know what it’s going to be like in 10 or 15 years in the city.”

Frasers Property redeveloped the former Carlton and United Brewery site on Broadway into what is now Central Park, a residential area with commercial space, shops and cafes.

The development includes a trigeneration plant which will supply about 3,000 residents with low-carbon power.

Mr Mobbs successfully advocated for the project’s focus on sustainability, but questioned whether the Broadway and Chippendale area will cope with an increase in population and density.

“Presently we’ve got 4,000 people who live here, plus another 4,000 who work here, and this one project will double that,” he said.

“In one project we’re going to repeat a suburb in a small area, so the question is can you live more sustainably if you take out this space?”

Patricia Forsythe, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, lauded the Central Park development.

“The revitalisation of the precinct can only be to everybody’s benefit; particularly considering the fact we’re seeing significant upgrade at UTS,” she said. “It’s really giving fresh life to that edge of the city.

“It was the degraded end of the city and it is the refreshment of a disused industrial site, and we’ve now converted it into a high-end residential development but one that is focused on sustainability.”

A spokesperson for the City of Sydney said Chippendale is emerging as a lively new residential and creative precinct, bringing new life to the city’s southern end.

“Last week saw the opening of a new mall at the former brewery site, which includes 1,000 square metres of space dedicated for community cultural use, including gallery space, workspace for visual artists, creative retails, an events space and rehearsal space for performing artists,” the spokesperson said.

Planning Minister Brad Hazzard was contacted for comment but did not respond before press time.

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