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Goodbye greyhounds, hello metro: Final Pyrmont Place Strategy released

The NSW Government have released their final Pyrmont Peninsula Place Strategy. Photo: NSW Government

By ALLISON HORE

After months of consultation with the public, the NSW government have released their final Pyrmont Peninsula Place strategy.

The construction of a new metro station at Pyrmont, the end of greyhound racing at Wentworth park and the green-light for a 6-star hotel tower at the Star are just some of the many changes the strategy proposes across the Pyrmont peninsula.

In early 2020, the NSW Government released their “10 Directions” for the Pyrmont place strategy. This was followed by the development of a draft strategy which was placed on public exhibition. This process culminated in the release of the final Place Strategy on the 11th of December, 2020.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said feedback from the community on the draft plan has been taken into account, and the final strategy has been adapted so “Pyrmont remains a prosperous and unique part of Sydney.” 

Over 400 submissions were put to the government through the submissions period between July and September of 2020. Key concerns brought forward by the community were conserving the peninsula’s heritage, protecting local amenity and improving transport links.

“Striking a balance in planning is never easy and the unique geography and history of Pyrmont’s settlement pattern provided a particular challenge,” he said. 

“Our fundamental task was to encourage economic development while enlivening the peninsula, boosting jobs and providing for more quality public open spaces for everyone to enjoy.”

The final strategy highlights five “Big Moves” for the Pyrmont peninsula.

These moves include a focus on low-carbon energy use, the development of a “world-class” harbour foreshore walk and better use of public land. Minister Stokes says the strategy paves the way for the foreshore between Blackwattle Bay and Woollomooloo Bay to be opened for the first time since the 1800s.

“The pandemic has shown us the importance of public space and this strategy provides hectares more open space, uninterrupted foreshore and plenty of community infrastructure to support new and existing development,” he said.

To open up more green space for public use, the strategy also pushes for Wentworth Park to be “returned to the people”. Currently home to a greyhound track, the Place Strategy would see Wentworth Park transformed into a mixed-use green space. A working group will be set up with government agencies and key stakeholders to identify a suitable alternative site for greyhound racing.

Metro welcomed, Star questioned

Another “Big Move” put forward in the strategy is one to transform Pyrmont into a “vibrant” 24-hour cultural and entertainment destination. 

To facilitate this, the NSW Government has highlighted improved transport connectivity as another focus area and have given the green light to the construction of a Metro station at Pyrmont as part of the Metro West rail link. The $25 billion rail line will carry commuters from Sydney’s CBD to Parramatta in around twenty minutes. Transport Minister Andrew Constance estimates the metro station in Pyrmont, likely to be located close to the Star Casino, would be the busiest along the line. 

Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, welcomed the announcement. She said a Metro station in the area was “always key” to developing the Pyrmont peninsula further. 

“A Metro station at Pyrmont was always key to the future development of Pyrmont and its revitalisation as a thriving new precinct that will drive employment and the city’s economy, never more critical as we emerge from Covid,” she said.

“This precinct can now realise its potential as a major growth area for the CBD and an exciting harbour side destination for Sydneysiders and tourists to shop, dine, work and be entertained.”

In a significant change from the draft strategy to the final document, The Star Casino would be allowed to build a tower of up to 110 meters tall, on the northern end of the site the condition it is a 6-star hotel. The cap of 60 meters would remain for all other types of developments. On the southern end of the property towers of up to 140 meters would be allowed. 

On release of the draft strategy Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, criticised the allowance of buildings of up to 180 meters on the site. She said it would have opened the doors for the Star Casino’s controversial tower which she called “a towering monument to gambling”.  

Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, said the replacement of the greyhound track at Wentworth Park and the construction of a metro station in Pyrmont “is very welcome news”. But, he thought the development restrictions on the Star’s site did not go far enough.

“While the limitations and restrictions (including no-residential) placed on casino towers are welcomed, the tower is still inappropriate for the area,” he said.

According to the new strategy, any tower construction on the Star site would be subject to approval and would not be allowed to increase overshadowing of public space. No residential tower would be allowed to be built on the site.

Moving forward, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is working to prepare master-plans for seven “sub precincts” identified in the Pyrmont peninsula. These are Pirrama, Darling Island, Blackwattle Bay, Tumbalong Park, Wentworth Park, Pyrmont Village and Ultimo.

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