City News

Bourbon development a total facade

Resident Vashti Hughes says Barncleuth Lane too narrow for development. Photo: John Moyle

Opinion by JOHN MOYLE

The second attempt to get a development application passed on the Bourbon block in Kings Cross is a great exercise in façadism designed to obfuscate the brutal reality.

Behind developer Iris Capital and designers Tonkin Zulaikha Greer’s submission is another facade of a design deeply flawed and one that will impact negatively on the area for years to come.

The area deserves better than the rough shod application that will be under consideration by the Independent Planning Commission, not the City of Sydney.

Despite the Development Application 2020/916 being much the same as the one submitted in 2017 its new costing is $65,444,808, which places it above the $50 million threshold that the City of Sydney can consider.

The proposed development is now for 54 apartments, 59 hostel sized rooms, two mega-pubs, four retail shops and an underground medical centre.

A height of nine stories exceeding 25 metres is proposed, with five stories basements bringing the overall height to 13 stories and over, a breach of height restrictions for the area.

The applicant said the DA proposes “The partial demolition of structures, excavation and associated construction for five basement levels, accommodating building services, car parking, motor cycle and bicycle parking, service requirements and end of trip facilities.

“It is the largest single DA for one site ever in the area,” Andrew Woodhouse, President, Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage and Residents’ Association said.

Mr Woodhouse also said that “only 72 per cent of units will receive sufficient sunlight and that nine per cent will receive no sunlight.”

“Only 70 per cent of units will have cross-ventilation, which means that 30 per cent have no cross-ventilation, and 59 of the hotel rooms will be as small as 15.8 square meters, too small to be habitable.”

The site also has frontages on Roslyn Street and the tiny Barncleuth Lane which are to be used as ingress and egress points for the pubs and other business located within.

The applicant will also suck up 22 tables and 88 chair spaces along Darlinghurst Road.

Iris Capital also proposes “an enhancement of the Barncleuth Lane public domain, in the form of a new through-site link joining the lane to Darlinghurst Road”.

This, for a small one-way lane just 4.9 metres wide, not the seven metres width claimed in the application.

The developer also claims that Barncleuth Lane is a double lane road.

The lane’s two footpaths are each less than a metre wide and for years have been cluttered with rubbish bins.

Barncleuth Lane is already clogged and is an important through-way for police vehicles in and out of the holding cells.

With its single-way access to Roslyn Street, Barncleuth Lane will also become a choke point during construction and will effectively become unusable to the public.

To put more traffic and people into Barncleuth Lane will also severely impact the amenity of the many apartment dwellers on the side facing the development.

While the basements will have capacity for 84 vehicles, the developer claims that this will only generate 30 vehicle movements per day, including external service vehicles such as booze and food delivery and garbage trucks.

This extremely low traffic estimation can only be arrived at from a manipulation of data, not reality.

Vashti Hughes is a performer who owns in Manhattan, an inter-war building bounded by Barncleuth Lane, Roslyn Street and Ward Avenue.

She has lived there for 17 years with her partner Ross, and is not looking forward to a spooky Xmas present from Iris Capital.

“I’ll have to find somewhere else to live as I just won’t be able to live there,” Vashti Hughes said.

“There are a whole lot of people in the streets around here and they will also have to find alternative accommodation because no one will be able to live with the noise and dust.”

The old Lido Hotel, now the Uno, on the corner of Barncleuth Lane and Roslyn Street is not part of the development.

The only building left standing on the northern side of the block will be the magnificent rhomboid shaped Kingsley Hall, a 1931 Emil Sodersten designed structure.

Sodersten was Sydney’s prominent residential apartment designer in the inter-war years and was responsible for a number of Deco apartment buildings in Potts Point, along with the Hyde Park Australian War Memorial.

Among the nine-storey Kingsley Hall’s many outstanding design features is a light well running from level three to the top floor of the building.

The light well provides light, fresh air flow and views to apartments dwellers and is an important design feature of the building.

“They are going to build a tower the equivalent height to us right next door cutting off all the natural light and air to our corridors,” Martin Denny, resident, Kingsley Hall, said.

Mr Denny also expressed concern about how the 90 year-old heritage listed building will fair during the demolition and excavation phases of the development.

“They are going to excavate a 12 metre pit right beside our southern wall, but even worse, in another part of the DA they say that they will go down another 1.5 metres to out in a lift well,” Mr Denny said.

Whether through ignorance or deliberate obfuscation, the DA seldom mentions Kingsley Hall, instead referencing the unknown Fitzroy Apartments and Fountain Apartments in its place.

Nowhere does the DA address the impact that the development will have on the residents and businesses in the immediate area, especially the concerns for mental health and well being and the possible economic losses during construction.

It does not even outline a clear schedule for completion with estimates having to be taken from the 2017 DA.

The DA speaks a lot about the design addressing heritage issues, but keeping the Bourbon’s two detached arches and a token nod to Les Girls for the Empire is not addressing heritage, it is tokenism at its most cynical.

In the DA submission the applicant said “Justification includes the proposal’s compatibility with emerging developments in the locality and lack of environmental impacts”.

Not so.

There are a lot of other issues that such as overshadowing, amalgamation of site, shoddy analysis, poor building separation, fire safety non-compliance, adverse acoustic impacts, adverse reflectivity impacts and poor conceptual design for the link from Darlinghurst Road to Barncleuth Lane.

Mr Woodhouse, who has broken down the DA to a readable 41 pages, said “An independent costing by Council is required.”

After spending the past two weeks pouring over the 1,440 pages of the DA’s submissions Mr Denny has come to the conclusion that “It is the most terrible DA.”

This is not a development that even claims to care for the well being of the area and is nothing more than a money grab.

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