25 Jul 2007

The Barangaroo Project

by Gary Best, Rachel Mirosevich

The proposed renewal opens vast economic, environmental and community opportunities for Sydney and NSW.

In February 2007, under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 the NSW Minister for Planning granted consent to a Concept Plan for the urban renewal of East Darling Harbour, now known as the Barangaroo site. The NSW Government envisages that the development contemplated by the Concept Plan approval will deliver a benchmark waterfront renewal project of international status.

The proposed renewal opens vast economic, environmental and community opportunities for Sydney and NSW and will provide for an expansion of the city’s commercial centre as well as provide significant new parkland for the local and international community to enjoy.

The Barangaroo site

The Barangaroo site is a 22 hectare land parcel owned by the State of New South Wales and has been used for commercial shipping for much of the 19th and 20th century. The NSW Government is embarking on a total renewal of the site as an extension of Sydney’s commercial business core as well as focusing on providing extensive waterfront parklands (in the vicinity of 11 hectares) and completing the pedestrian foreshore link between Woolloomooloo and ANZAC Bridge.

The site is considered to be an immensely valuable land parcel in the context of the Sydney CBD, Sydney Harbour and Darling Harbour given its size, location and proximity to the waterfront. Accordingly, a project of this scale provides significant economic, environmental and community opportunities for Sydney and NSW.

The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority will take a lead role in directing and facilitating the development of the Barangaroo site with the aim of developing the site into a world benchmark in waterfront urban renewal development. The Foreshore Authority is currently considering and determining a general framework for development of the site and intends to issue a Call for Expression of Interest, to both the domestic and international community, incorporating the various deliverables required by the Foreshore Authority for the Barangaroo site. The deliverables which will be required include extensive infrastructure, public domain, recreational and tourist facilities and commercial and retail development.

Given the extent of the project, the project is expected to involve $2.5 billion in construction over more than 10 years and to accommodate over 15,000 permanent jobs.

International urban design competition

In 2005/2006 the NSW Government staged an international urban design competition to explore the urban form options for the Barangaroo site as well as to generate public discussion on unlocking the opportunities that a renewal of the site would provide.

Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, Paul Berkemeier Architect and Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture and their team won the competition. Following this the Foreshore Authority commissioned a planning report to support a change in the zoning of the site as well as the development of a Concept Plan pursuant to Part 3A of the Act for the site. The urban design principles from the competition informed the urban form in the Concept Plan.

It was acknowledged that the urban design competition was only the starting point of a long and substantial public process to create plans, policies, designs and development approvals for the built and non-built outcomes for the Barangaroo site.

The Concept Plan

The Minister for Planning approved the Concept Plan for the site in February 2007 under Part 3A of the Act. The visions and objectives stemming from the Concept Plan include:

  • the enhancement of the growth and position of Sydney as the premier business, cultural and living centre of the Asia-Pacific region
  • a vibrant new city quarter accommodating working, living, business and recreation providing an interface with expansive public domain and day and night street life
  • a well-planned expansion to the CBD including large floor plates to encourage major international commercial relocation and investment; and
  • the reconnection and return of the foreshore back to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority so that it can be utilised for the Sydney and international community.

The Concept Plan approval provides that this exciting new development in brief encompasses:

  • a mixed use development (commercial, retail, residential and public space) with a maximum of 388,300 metre square of gross floor area
  • 11 hectares of new public open space including a 1.4km public foreshore promenade, extensive public domain landscaping including parks, streets and pedestrian connections
  • the preparation of a range of implementation plans covering transport, infrastructure, social issues, design excellence and housing; and
  • a passenger terminal and an area for active uses that support the public domain with a public recreation zone.

In addition, the Concept Plan outlines a variety of principles and commitments in terms of environmental sustainability such as water, power and waste technology. The NSW Government would like to see environmental buildings and design excellence processes incorporated by developers of the Barangaroo site and also encourages the highest environmental returns possible for the Barangaroo site.

It is clear to see that the Barangaroo project, given its size and complexities will be one of the biggest urban renewal developments for Sydney spanning the next two decades. The Clayton Utz team, led by Gary Best, Peter McMahon and Scott Aitken, is excited to be the principal legal advisers for the Foreshore Authority for the project and look forward to assisting with the various challenges and complexities that the project presents.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.