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University of Sydney enters fight for development space at North Eveleigh

The University believes their presence is essential to the success of the precinct.

Illustrative impression of the North Eveleigh development, via Transport for NSW.

The University of Sydney has made a public submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, expressing concern for its development plans at North Eveleigh and a desire  to use part of the area, the Paint Shop sub-precinct, for an educational and tech start-up space. Carriageworks, current tenants at North Eveleigh, wish to use the sub-precinct for arts and culture. 

In his submission, Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott expressed that he wants the University to lease the Chief Mechanical Engineers Building at the Redfern end of the site. 

“Universities play a broader positive role in providing significant community infrastructure and place-making, giving structure and vibrancy to Sydney’s major centres,” Scott said. 

He urged the government to align themselves with the University’s expansion goals, adding that “only assistance by government in releasing land and improving transport connections can enable the University to enable the innovation district.”

Under current draft development plans, the 10-hectare site between Redfern and Darlington will see the construction of 450 new apartments and tech offices of up to 28 storeys, as well as a town square and parkland. 

NSW Minister for Cities Rob Stokes says that the development will put Redfern “on track for renewal” and celebrate its “deep indigenous (sic) connection and industrial past”. 

He describes the area as having been “off limits to the general public for more than a century.”

“There will be dedicated spaces for startup businesses and better active transport connections,” Minister Stokes said.

In recent decades, the Carriageworks space in the North Eveleigh Precinct has been used by the public for arts and community events, such as the weekly farmers markets and Sydney Writers Festival. Until 1988, it was a rail stock and maintenance centre.

The most recent draft development plans contradict the Concept Plan prepared by the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, a since-abolished state government agency, which was approved in 2008 by then-Planning Minister Kristina Keneally. Supposedly, it acts as a set of planning controls for the area. 

The original Concept Plan was the result of extensive review processes. 

“Consultation on the original plan resulted in significant changes, including the removal of several proposed buildings and inclusion of five new parks,” Keneally said at the time.

It limited building heights to 16 storeys, included five new parklands, a childcare centre, and retail areas. Notably, it secured a performing arts and cultural space for Carriageworks at the centre of the precinct. 

The state government has been positioned in the firing line of local residents and arts organisations over the finalisation of its plans for North Eveleigh. Community members allege to not have been adequately consulted, due to pre-exhibition consultation promised by the state government never eventuating.