HISTORY OF BARANGAROO REDEVELOPMENT
WHAT & WHERE IS BARANGAROO?
Barangaroo is the old Patrick wharf site on the eastern side of Darling Harbour. The site runs from King St Wharf, along the eastern side of Darling Harbour to Millers Point and around to Walsh Bay. The area is very large and a very important part of the city and foreshores with almost a kilometre of harbour foreshore and a total area of around 15 central city blocks; not much different in size to the area bounded by Martin Place, George Street, Pitt Street and Circular Quay.
STAGES IN THE PLANNING CYCLE
In 2003 the Government took a decision to redevelop the site with a mixture of parkland, commercial and residential and launched a worldwide design contest for the site in 2005. The international design competition attracted 137 submissions. Judging took place in early 2006 and the competition was won outright by an Australian group comprising architects Hill Thalis and Paul Berkemeier and Landscape Architect Jane Irwin. The winning team was commissioned to assist the Government in developing the design between July and September 2006.
Using the winning entry as the basis, the Government released its Concept Plan in February 2007. The plan was subsequently amended in September 2007 to provide for a modified headland and cove treatment.
In September 2008 the Government announced that it had short-listed three proponents to undertake more detailed design planning. They were consortia led by Brookfield Multiplex, Lend Lease and Mirvac. Shortly afterwards the Barangaroo Delivery Authority was formed in November with a charter to manage the redevelopment activities.
On 25 February 2009 the Government announced that an additional 120,000 square metres of commercial space was to be incorporated in the design to improve commercial viability of the project. This increased the commercial space by more than one third compared with the Concept Plan.
In August 2009 the Government announced that Brookfield Multiplex and Lend Lease had been invited to prepare and submit detailed bids. This resulted in an announcement on 20 December 2009 that Lend lease would be contracted to deliver Stage 1 of the programme. The winning proposition offered a radically different solution to either the award winning design or the adopted planning framework.
DISCLOSURE AND COMMUNITY CONSULTATION
On 20 December 2009 the Lend Lease plan was announced as the successful Concept Plan, with no explanation as to why the Concept Plan based on the previous plan, selected by the independent jury, had been discarded. It was not disclosed that the Lend Lease plan has larger and taller buildings, a new pier and a 60 storey hotel to be constructed 150 metres into Darling Harbour. Nor was there any information relating to the development in the next stages.
No information on the Lend Lease plan was made available on the Barangaroo website or elsewhere prior to the signing of Heads of Agreement between Lend Lease and the NSW Government In late February. A public launch in late February turned out to be an all ticket affair, with the tickets all sold out prior to the public announcement. It was no more than a well orchestrated promotion of the Lend Lease plan.
For the month of March a lend lease display is available on Wednesday and Saturday mornings in a Harbour Masters cottage on the Barangaroo site. A mere total of 40 hours will be available for public viewing.
No meaningful disclosure of the reasons for such a radical departure from the original independently selected concept plan, or for the increase in building size, or for the hotel intruding in to the harbour waters, or of the commercial arrangements with Lend Lease have been provided.
The plan is due to be approved in May, even though it exceeds various planning guidelines, and work is scheduled to begin soon after.
As Councillor Chris Harris of Sydney City Council has stated: “The presentation contained many worthwhile ideas but there was virtually no mention of the hotel from Mr Keating or the two architects who presented the design. It seemed as though they were trying to slip it through without anyone noticing.”
This blatant attempt to push through a non-complying overdevelopment that includes a private developer’s seizure of harbour waters, with an almost culpable lack of disclosure and community consultation, can only serve as a breeding ground for understandable and rational suspicions as to the relationship between the State Government and Lend Lease and it is vital that the State Government, through the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and its delegates and committees, put these suspicions to rest by adopting a process of full disclosure and meaningful public input.
December 20, 2009
o Government Consideration
o Design Competition
o Winner Announced
o Concept Plan Issued
o Concept Plan Updated
o 3 Consortia choosen to compete for Development Contract
o Delivery Authority Formed
o Short-list to 2 Developers
o Announcement of Lend Lease as Winner
The time between the announcement of the Lend Lease design and final ratification by the minister is the legal minimum of 3 months, a time period befitting a small suburban development, not the largest development seen in Sydney in the last 30 years.
The winning design concept from Hill Thalis & Co
The buildings in the winning design seen from Pyrmont
Western View of the Lend Lease Design from Pyrmont
Southern View of the Lend Lease Design by Pyrmont