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South Head development plans draws mixed feelings from residents

Watsons Bay

A master plan for the South Head precinct has some residents concerned for the future direction of the area. Photo: NSW government.


The NSW government’s master plan for the South Head precinct near Watsons Bay has many residents concerned about the future commercialisation of the area. 

The precinct at Watsons Bay, which is part of the Sydney Harbour National Parks, has had a plan developed that promises to create a “long-term framework” to support its “rich culture, heritage and landscape character and future improvements” across South Head

While many residents are worried about the implications of the commercially built landscape on a public area, Liberal State Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton said that the plan is a “crucial opportunity” to identify necessary upgrades like walking tracks to enhance South Head’s cultural and natural attributes, arguing that it will “play a critical role in managing the important place for decades to come”.

‘We need more details’ on Watsons Bay plan: Vaucluse councillor

Merrill Witt, a Residents First councillor for the Vaucluse Ward of Woollahra Council, told City Hub that while the focus on the conservation of bushland and habitat is welcomed, she was concerned about how changes would be implemented. 

Watsons Bay

Merill Witt. Photo: Residents First.

“While the plan says that the adaptive reuse of the buildings on South Head will be a positive and logical transition that does not commercialise or lead to significant intervention that is irreversible … it qualifies this statement – and that is my emphasis – by saying without a bold approach, there may not be a viable use for some element,” Witt said. 

“Given that a recent proposal to transform parkland buildings into function centres was met with widespread community outcry, don’t we require more details on exactly how the plan is planning to repurpose existing buildings?” 

Woollahra councillor Lucinda Regan has prepared submissions to express their concerns about the plan. While she praised its consideration of “infrastructure upgrades and a planned methodology to the area”, she was unhappy about its disregard for local amenities, management plans for tourists, and its inaction on traffic and transport updates. Cr Regan said that the details on these topics are unclear since there is little reference to them. 

Former councillor Claudia Cullen also prepared a detailed submission regarding the Plan. 

“The introduction and site overview fails to acknowledge that this small strip of parkland is uniquely located within a high-density heritage, residential area consisting of small highly trafficked roads, poor public transport networks and no thorough traffic,” she said, adding that including a nationally-funded transport plan and infrastructure upgrade would be necessary to manage Watsons Bay. 

The draft plan will be on an exhibition until Monday, May 30

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