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Sydney- westies versus hipsters.

15 Dec

Sydney is a distant colonial city that prefers to source its stories from elsewhere.


Above- Sydney in 1888. Just the Victorian core exists (pre-car). Many areas would be recognizable today.
However, unknown to many, Sydney has a rich history and social fabric of its own.
There is a rich post-colonial, post-industrial identity mainly based on waves of immigration and class.
As with all of the east coast cities, the rich live in the cooler coastal east and the poorer “out west”.


Above- demographic map of Sydney. Very telling.


In common with all western cities built in the Victorian age, the prosperous middle classes initially inhabited a ring of hosing around the urban core and abandoned this with the invention of the motor car and commuter trains.
Inner-city Sydney declined, with some now desireable areas (eg, Paddington in the inner east) being described in the ‘thirties as “the worst white slum in the British Empire”.
Since the ‘seventies the inner city has been heavily gentrified and the working classes have been relegated to the outer western suburbs. A quick breakdown would be-

1 City
-workers, dead on the weekend. Chinatown, some fancy Victorian areas on urban fringe (Glebe, etc).

2 Canterbury-Bankstown
-very cosmopolitan (like SW London). African blacks, Muslims, some Chinese, some rather rough looking Anglos.

3 Eastern Suburbs
-posh, nouveax riche, Jews, European immigrants (“I have to be near the beach…”).
4 The Forest
-the green areas of the Upper North Shore. Exclusively rich and white.
5 Hills District
-as above, not as up-market. Suburbia.
6 Inner West
-hipsters, families, recently gentrified Victorian ring. Mostly small houses.
7 Macarthur
South-west of Sydney that includes the city of Campbelltown, as well as the town of Camden and Wollondilly Shire. Working class, Anglo and some Middle-Eastern immigrants. Suburbia.
8 Northern Beaches
Nice. White, quite laid back, not too pretentious. A bit far from Sydney (on the way to the idyllic Tradie’s Central Coast).
9 Lower North Shore
Urban, architecturally similar to the Inner-West, but quite boring. No hipsters.
10 Upper North Shore
Established rich. Grand, free standing Federation houses. Some blocks of flats being built along the highway, and has some large Chinese areas (eg- Chatswood).
11 Northern Suburbs
As above.
12 South-eastern Sydney
Includes Botany (the birth place of Australia), Kensington and the airport zone. Industrial, working class.
13 South-western Sydney
City of Canterbury, City of Bankstown, City of Liverpool, City of Fairfield, City of Campbelltown and Camden Council. Solidly working class. Lots of fibro houses, etc. Big post-war boom areas. Quite a few Lebanese, etc.
14 Southern Sydney
Kogarah, Sutherland Shire. Mostly very nice lower middle class Anglo areas. Some large Chinese areas (Kogarah, etc).
15 St George
As above.

16 Western Sydney
Here be the Westies. Stretches out to Katoomba. As with South-western Sydney above.



17. Upper Blue Mountains
-drug addicts, mountain folk.
18. Lower Blue Mountains
-Tradies, intellectual middle class priced out of Sydney. Bushfires.











Above- map from the 1840’s. Pretty much only the city and a part of Pyrmont exist.

Tintin Sydney comics by Glenn Smith


Mirvac Harold Park revealed

12 Oct

Mirvac has finally lodged the DA plans at Sydney Council for their multi-residential redevelopment of the former Harold Park Paceway site at Forest Lodge.

The above rendering shows the Harold Park site with the thus far designed Precinct One (Mirvac Design) and Precinct Two (SJB Architects). Site masterplanning by Hassell and site landscape design by Aspect Studio.


The Site

First, let’s look at the site.

The site is divided into six precincts (to be built in phases). Each of these is effectively a single building, with a shared excavated carpark and two to four towers, and with a deep soil zone in the middle (DA requirement). Precinct Six is to be sold to another developer for student/essential service housing (DA condition). Precinct 4A to the north of the site has not been fully resolved- its traffic will be directed on to Maxwell Street and local residents are concerned.

There is also a park site (5.8 hectares (14 acres)) against the cliff. This, along with the roads, is to be ceded back to the City. It also forms the overland flow path for floods (very important on this site).

There is also the old Rozelle Tram Depot. This is to be developed as 7000sm of retail. Unfortunately, the parking for this has been placed in front of the depot (it would have been too expensive to put it under the Depot as council has asked for in the master plan).

Above- plan (Aspect) for one of the “pocket parks”. This links the existing Crescent roadway with one of the new site roadways. It allows for a significant (about 4m) level change.

Above- Hassell masterplan massing model. Note the six story buildings on the Crescent, stepping back to 8 story within the site. Sydney Council was strict about imposing building setbacks (delaying the DAs).

Above- an example of an existing recent Mirvac development at Rhodes.

Above- the site, 1948.

Above- the site, today. Quite a few more trees.

Precincts One and Two

Now, the good stuff.

Precinct One

Above- Site plan for Precinct One (Mirvac Design). There are “terrace houses” at street level, with traditional flats above (typical accross site). Four towers around a deep soil courtyard zone in the middle.

Above- P1 facade elevations.

Above- Computer rendering of Precinct One showing the pop-out windows.

Above- note that the top two levels step further in. This is part of the DCP and was insisted on by council.

Above- P1 shown in context on the site model.

Precinct Two

Above- Detail of the pocket park between the two P2 buildings as designed by Aspect. This is intended to blend seemlessly into the surrounding landscape and optimistically shows tall trees planted in very shallow beds.

Above- The P2 plans and elevations by SJB Architects.

Above- A section through one of the P2 buildings showing its relationship to the adjacent “heritage” cliff and existing house. The concept was that the top datum of the new buildings was not to rise above the roofline of the existing Victorian homes.

The Tram Depot

Above- the Tram Depot on the site will be converted to 7000m2 retail (possibly sold on to a separate developer).  It has sat empty and derlict since the 1980s. Trams ceased operating out of there in the 1950s.

Above- the entry area today.

Above- as it was in the 1950s.

Above- the interior today. There are a number of badly vandalised trams in there, some of which will be retained and restored.

Above- the proposed exterior (image- Loop Creative).

Above- the proposed interior (image- Loop Creative). Possibly to be used as a large green grocers store and/or gym.


This development will have a huge impact on the area. However, as Sydney marches towards 5 million people it is better to concentrate populations near the city.

If it can be done as sensitively as the old Children’s Hospital site up the road (on Pyrmont Bridge Road) then it will be a winner. We will wait and see.

Barangaroo & Part 3A – Back to the drawing board

13 May

Sean Nicholls, Matthew Moore, SMH, May 13, 2011

Barangaroo to go ahead, but in what form? The Government now says Barangaroo will go ahead, but just what form the development will now take is the subject of the review.

A ”SHORT, sharp” review of the $6 billion Barangaroo development has been ordered by the state government after opponents reached agreement with the developer, Lend Lease, to adjourn Monday’s court action challenging the project.

The Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, said he will appoint an independent chairman to the review, which he hoped would be completed within two months.

Mr Hazzard moved to resolve disputes over Sydney’s biggest redevelopment when he organised the former Land and Environment court judge Robert Talbot to chair mediation talks on the project yesterday morning.

Under review … Barangaroo. Photo: Peter Rae

The meeting, which Mr Hazzard attended, included Lend Lease, the group bringing the court action, Australians for Sustainable Development, and representatives from the government’s Barangaroo Delivery Authority.

At the talks, AFSD reached a confidential agreement with Lend Lease, the Barangaroo authority and Mr Hazzard to withdraw next week’s action once the government announces the terms of reference for the review.

Mr Hazzard said he would meet with all parties over the next week and ”determine the terms of reference for a short, sharp review of the processes that have gone on to date at Barangaroo”.

Sent to council … Harbord Diggers. Photo: James Brickwood

A spokeswoman for AFSD, Marcelle Hoff, called for the terms of reference to include the size and shape of the development, but it is likely to be limited to a review of the planning processes undertaken thus far.

Ms Hoff, who is also the deputy lord mayor of Sydney, said she was ”absolutely delighted” by the outcome of the mediation talks. ”We feel very positive we will get a good outcome” from the review, she said.

Mr Hazzard called the agreement ”a win for commonsense”. He said planning decisions at Barangaroo had undermined public confidence in the process and criticised a decision by former planning minister Tony Kelly, who changed the law to ensure a favourable result in a previous court case brought by AFSD.

Sent to council … Coogee Bay Hotel. Photo: Janie Barrett

“Decisions like that of the former minister Kelly’s to amend the contamination remediation State Environmental Planning Policy to exclude the development from having to comply with normal clean-up requirements have sent a sense of frustration through the community,” he said.

Before the talks, Lend Lease had insisted the court case would proceed on Monday regardless, but it has now agreed it be delayed before being withdrawn.

It has paid the government more than $100 million for the right to develop the site and has been concerned about the cost of delays.

Sent to council … Eastern suburbs memorial park. Photo: Steven Siewert

Lend Lease’s group head of development, David Hutton, welcomed Mr Hazzard’s proposal ”as a positive step towards providing certainty and momentum for the delivery of the Barangaroo south project”.

Mr Hutton said the agreement meant Australians for Sustainable Development would immediately withdraw other legal challenges to the basement and first commercial tower, known as C4.


As you were on Part 3A development proposals
Sean Nicholls, SMH, May 13, 2011.
BILLIONS of dollars worth of projects that Labor took control of under the contentious Part 3A planning laws will be sent back to local councils by the O’Farrell government. The projects will include the controversial $150 million redevelopment of the Coogee Bay Hotel.

But the Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, will announce today that the government will deal with about 460 of more than 550 development applications that were not decided under the old system before the change of government.

Most of those will be referred to an independent body, the Planning Assessment Commission.

Mr Hazzard said he wanted to ensure the applications were dealt with ”transparently and openly” in contrast to the previous system, known as Part 3A, which the O’Farrell government is scrapping for all residential, retail, commercial and coastal development.

Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act allowed the minister to be the sole consent authority for big projects. Developers were allowed to apply to the minister to have their projects dealt with under the provisions even if they exceeded local planning rules about height, density and zoning.

Among the projects being returned to councils are the proposed redevelopments of the Coogee Bay Hotel, Harbord Diggers and the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

Announcing his decision, Mr Hazzard said the way the previous minister, Tony Kelly, had handled the proposal for the Coogee Bay Hotel as ”really quite concerning”.

Residents strongly opposed the redevelopment but Mr Hazzard said Mr Kelly had failed to make public the fact that he had decided to deal with it under Part 3A just before the state election.

The hotel is in the state seat of Coogee, which was under threat from the Liberals and the Greens. Labor’s Paul Pearce lost the seat to the Liberals’ Bruce Notley-Smith.

”When we examined the paperwork we found that the minister had in fact declared the Coogee Bay Hotel on December 10,” Mr Hazzard said.He said it was ”very, very disappointing to think that the former minister Tony Kelly signed off on the Coogee Bay Hotel and failed to tell anybody right through that 3½ month period and right through the election.”

He said about 63 projects, including the Coogee Bay Hotel proposal, would be sent back to councils ”where they belong”. The government will refund the application fees for these projects.

About 102 residential, retail, commercial and coastal projects will still be dealt with under Part 3A because they had progressed through the planning process to a point where their owners had spent a significant amount of money. The government has committed to developing a new method of determining when a project is of state significance and how those projects will be decided.

Mr Hazzard said he hoped the new approach would be settled on within ”a couple of months”.

Editor’s note- Part 3A was introduced by the previous Labor government in 2005 and gave the planning minister consent authority for major projects deemed to be of state or regional significance or with a budget over $50 million. Certain projects (large job creating, infrastructure and high density housing) were considered too important to be jepodised by petty local politicians. It is a worry that this process has been stopped as it may derail projects for the greater good (inner city high-density housing, etc).

Residents buy off-plan to tower above Chatswood

9 Feb

9 Feb 11 by Kat Adamski

CHATSWOOD’S newest apartment blocks will soar 260m above sea level – the North Shore’s highest.  The $450 million Chatswood Interchange project, which went into receivership in 2008, is back on track after it was revived by the Sydney’s Galileo Group.

The highest of the three towers would be 140m, which would make it the North Shore’s tallest.

Liquidator CRI Chatswood sold the rights to build the three towers to Galileo, which teamed with ISPT, one of Australia’s largest unlisted property funds, to buy the site late last year.

The consortium is relying on off-the-plan apartment sales so construction can start on two of the towers as early as June.

They will be built above Chatswood station.

In the past, Willoughby Council general manager Nick Tobin has been critical of the site, saying the State Government had approved the residential towers without contributing to the public services and amenities that 1000 residents would need.

Metro View (31 storeys) and Metro Spire (42 storeys) will be built on the north-eastern edge of the already completed retail podium, which is unleased.

Together they will provide 292 apartments, with prices from $488,000 for one-bedroom units to a penthouse for $1.725 million.  The third and highest tower, Metro Grand, at 56 storeys, would follow on the western side of the site with 261 apartments.

Willoughby Mayor Pat Reilly said he was disappointed that the residential component was progressing before the retail podium negotiations were finalised.  “(The overall development) was approved by the State Government beyond our control, but we believe the retail component should be the main concern,” Cr Reilly said.

“While council has advocated for an office building, the location of the three towers in the heart of the Chatswood CBD has assisted us in meeting the government’s increased dwelling requirements.”

A display suite at 391 Victoria Ave is open 10am to 4pm daily. Phone 1800 839 883 or see



Brisbane Floods- History forgotten in rush to riverfront luxury

18 Jan

IN the rejuvenation of Brisbane as the River City, boasting expensive homes and apartments along the waterfront, buyers of the relatively new and luxurious apartments of Tennyson Reach enjoyed the best of both worlds.

On one side, the Brisbane River; on the other the new home of tennis in Queensland.

The development, by ASX-listed company Mirvac, also boasts history: it is on the site of the old Tennyson power station, a huge sprawling complex that was pulled down to make way for millionaires’ row. In Brisbane’s 1974 floods, the water that inundated the power station was a powerful reminder of the vulnerability of the city and its leafy near-river suburbs to heavy and sustained rainfall.

But, with the passage of time, as developers moved in and the beautification and rebranding of Brisbane gathered momentum, the images of water flooding around the power station were forgotten or discarded. Residents believed their insurance policy was Wivenhoe Dam, commissioned a quarter of a century ago to mitigate against a future large flood. Yesterday, as the smell in the luxury dwellings at Tennyson Reach, home to tennis greats including Ashley Cooper, rose with the temperature and humidity, owners wondered how the planning controls that were meant to regulate development could have gone so wrong.

Several said they were assured before buying that the ground level would not flood unless the Brisbane River reached a mark of 8.4m, well above the 4.46m at which it peaked last Thursday after a massive discharge of 645,000 megalitres from Wivenhoe Dam on Tuesday. Between cleaning up and moving out yesterday, several owners said they needed explanations from Mirvac and the council about their true flood immunity and whether the development, completed less than two years ago, should have been approved, given its history of inundation.

The flooding at Tennyson Reach is one small part of a major problem for Brisbane City Council and the Queensland government, as the losses of owners, the liability of developers, and the policies of governments combine in a perfect storm of recrimination and confusion. The residential precinct went through all the council’s usual approvals process after the Beattie government sought tenders to make something glorious from the site of the abandoned and obsolete power station.

Apartment owner Chrissie Buchanan, who bought in June 2009 with her husband, Sam, who is a quadriplegic, has had damaged floors, walls and cabinets. She said she was fortunate to have insurance and was in a lot better position than many in Brisbane. ‘‘The things that have been damaged are easily replaced,’’ Ms Buchanan said. ‘‘There are people who have lost their businesses and houses. I feel for people who are a lot worse off than ourselves.’’ She said flooding risk was ‘‘not an issue’’ that was canvassed when she and her husband bought the property. ‘‘You never believe it’s going to happen to you,’’ she said.

Keith George, who paid $2.25 million for his ground-floor apartment 18 months ago, said he had waist-level water throughout his property. As a result, he will have to rip up floors and carpets, rebuild walls, and most of the apartment’s cabinets will have to be replaced. ‘‘I’m going to have to spend at least $100,000 to replace the cabinetry,’’ he said. ‘‘We won’t be back in here for months.’’ Mr George said the flood risk never came up when he was buying the property, partly because City Hall had approved the development. ‘‘And I always believed the Wivenhoe would not let the Brisbane River come up,’’ he said. Another resident, Julie Savage, said most people living in the complex were not too concerned on Tuesday night when other parts of the city started to evacuate their homes. ‘‘I got the impression everyone was relaxed because it could withstand a flood of 8.4m, so it would all be fine,’’ she said. It is not only residents on the ground floor who are affected, with those on the many levels above unable to return home because there is no power and no lifts working. ‘‘They were saying 12 weeks until they can return, but it might be eight,’’ Mr George said.

Chris Freeman, the former Queensland chief executive of Mirvac, also bought into Tennyson Reach, but higher than the flood level. Mirvac Development Queensland chief executive Matthew Wallace, who inspected the development yesterday, said the priority was to work with the body corporate to get the buildings reinstated, and ‘‘get peoples’ lives and properties back together’’.

The flooding hit the apartments 12 hours before the peak in Brisbane of 4.46m. It is believed the body corporate does not have flood insurance. Several owners who bought their apartments before the global financial crisis had looked for loopholes to litigate a way out of their contracts before settlement, but failed after filing actions in the District Court. The irony is that being misled over the level of their flood immunity might have provided a perfect exit.

After successfully defending itself against some residents’ claims that it misrepresented the quality of the river views, as well as a host of technical legal arguments surrounding the contract documents, Mirvac said the original buyers had to meet, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in default interest and associated costs. The development’s proximity to the city — 8km from the Brisbane CBD and a half-volley from championship tennis courts — was a large part of its appeal, along with the usual prestige trappings of gymnasium, swimming pool, walking and cycle tracks, barbecue areas, parklands and landscaped gardens.

Source- Australian, January 18th. 2011.

Alfred Tennyson’s Crossing the bar

SUNSET and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

City 'could be free of traffic'

13 Nov

Editor’s note- interesting stuff here, but I think that we should step carefully trying to pedestrianise areas of Sydney. Much of the dynamic nature of modern “new-world” cities is centred around focussed activity, and there are many examples of planners destroying previously vibrant areas with pedestrian zones (eg- Martin Place). I don’t think that fat guys lounging on chairs is what I want to see in Times Square (or George Street for that matter….).

Article below- SMH, November 13, 2010 Josephine Tovey

SHE is the woman whose job it is to stop New York City traffic – literally. As transport commissioner of New York, Janette Sadik-Khan was charged with easing the congestion crisis in the Big Apple, which she has done with more than 320 kilometres of bicycle paths, new bus and ferry routes and ambitious projects such as turning the once jammed Times Square into a plaza.

Imagine this … Janette Sadik-Khan, New York’s transport commissioner, in George Street, Sydney. Photo: Quentin Jones

She has been vindicated by a 100 per cent increase in cycling since 2006, a drastic reduction in the number of accidents and faster-moving traffic.

As a guest of the City of Sydney council, which is trying to implement its radical cycle and pedestrian-friendly reform, Ms Sadik-Khan is here to try to convince us that if you can make it happen in New York, you can make it happen anywhere.

A pedestrianized Times Square in New York ca. 2009. Image from Sean_Marshall on Flickr.

”If we’re going to make a city that people want to be in we have to prioritise these investments,” she said.

Hers has been a formidable task in a city as notorious for its bellicose populace as its gridlocked streets, but Ms Sadik-Khan, a former corporate lawyer and cycling enthusiast, did not tread lightly.

The centrepiece of her reforms has been turning Times Square, where the average speed used to be 6.4 kilometres an hour and the defining sound was the car horn, into a safe plaza for the 356, 000 people who visit on foot each day.

Before and After: A rendering of a car-free Broadway at 7th Ave., Times Square, looking north.

Lanes were closed to cars, cycling strips introduced and cafe tables scattered where taxis used to dominate. New York Magazine praised her efforts as ”bypass surgery on the heart of New York”.

”People don’t go to Broadway to see the traffic,” she said. ”Now they have a way to really enjoy it.”

The changes were incremental, a key tactic in winning over her boss, the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and the public.

Before and After: A rendering of a car-free Broadway at 6th Ave., Herald Square, looking south.

For the lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, to realise her ambition of making George Street a pedestrian precinct, Ms Sadik-Khan advised: ”Try it on weekends, try it at a different time of day, paint it a little different and assess it and report back to the public and say this is what we’ve found,” she said. ”That takes a lot of the anxiety out.”

Even so, she has had plenty of critics at home and has been labelled an ”anti-car extremist”. Under the City of Sydney’s 2030 strategy, George Street should become a pedestrian plaza with light rail running down its spine.

The state government is undertaking studies on the alignment for a light rail extension in the central business district but has not committed to the council’s plan.

”I’m rather envious of Bloomberg. He has greater powers than I do,” said Cr Moore yesterday.

”To do the sort of thing they have done you need to be able to get on and do the job whereas I need to negotiate with the RTA.”



City takes a bite of Big Apple plan

Drew Warne-Smith, The Australian November 13, 2010

WHEN Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore envisioned a greener city, she took cues from NYC’s Transport Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
Since 2007, as part of New York City’s “PlaNYC 2030” development program, Ms Sadik-Khan has been overseeing a radical overhaul of how people get around the Big Apple. Car lanes have been closed, new dedicated cycleways established and public spaces expanded.

It’s a plan eerily similar to Ms Moore’s strategy, with more than a little echo in the “Sustainable Sydney 2030” title.

In Sydney as a guest of the city council, Ms Sadik-Khan is unabashed in saying her strategies can be implemented effectively in Australia, given a little tinkering.

“All world-class cities are taking a look at what they need to do differently, not only for the health of the planet, but for the well-being of their cities,” she told The Weekend Australian yesterday.

She also maintains it is realistic to expect Sydneysiders to leave their cars at home and cycle into the city in high numbers – come rain, hail or shine.

“They do it in Copenhagen, they do it in lots of cold climates . . . And it’s an outdoor culture here,” she says, adding that accident numbers in New York are well down where cycleways exist.

But Ms Sadik-Khan concedes she knows little of the day-to-day reality of the public transport system in Sydney.

Aaron Gadiel, chief executive of developers’ lobby group Urban Taskforce, says that any plan to encourage people out of their cars presumes a reliable, fast, transport network capable of moving those people where they need to go. “Vast areas of Sydney are very poorly serviced by public transport,” Mr Gadiel says.

With the City of Sydney looking at capping or banning parking spaces in new housing projects, the plan to favour cyclists over motorists also effectively shuts out the elderly, disabled and young families from the inner city — creating a monoculture of young singles, childless couples and students.

Given an insight into some of the problems, Ms Sadik-Khan concedes that “you can’t wish people on to buses”.

“An effective transit system is the mark of a world-class city,” she says. “New York City has been lucky in its development because in 1904 when the first subway was built, that actually laid out how the city would develop. We’re really the grand-daddy of transit oriented development.”

As an advocate of a congestion tax on city motorists (a levy was passed by the New York City Council but rejected by state legislators in 2008), Ms Sadik-Khan has been decried by critics, including many small business owners, as an “anti-car radical” and “elitist”.

New York Magazine even credited her with sparking a “peculiar new culture war – over the automobile”.

“Change is always difficult,” she says with a wry smile when asked about the resistance to her work.

“There are 8.4 million New Yorkers and sometimes it feels like there are 8.4 million traffic engineers.”

Ms Moore would do well to take note.



Sydney suffering 'short building syndrome' say planners who call for higher towers

20 Oct

By Vikki Campion, Daily Telegraph  September 29, 2010

Sydney towers don’t measure up
Sydney “needs to be taller like other capitals”
Small buildings “affects global relevance”

The Gold Coast’s Q1 apartment building is the world’s tallest residential tower at 323m.

ARCHITECTS and planners want higher towers at the Barangaroo redevelopment to prevent Sydney from becoming a short city. Sydney has only one of the 10 tallest buildings in Australia – beaten by Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth to 10th place – with the 18-year-old Chifley tower up to 25 storeys shorter than its rivals.

Sydney’s Chifley Tower is the ninth tallest building in Australia at 244m

Small-building syndrome has led to calls for the height of buildings at Barangaroo – which were slashed by 53m to 235m – to be reinstated.

Calls for taller towers at Barangaroo have divided Sydney, with at least 100 of the 202 submissions on the development against view-blocking towers.
Master planner Lord Richard Rogers said plans for the harbourside had to be bold to position Sydney among the truly great cities of the world.

“I’ve been visiting Sydney for 25 years and I know this is a confident city with an extraordinary future. It should not be held back from achieving greatness,” he said.

Conrad Grah of Pyrmont called for Barangaroo to be enhanced more with taller and bolder towers that state “Sydney is still the place”, while Basil Lee of St Leonards said “heights pale in comparison to Melbourne”.

“My only regret is that it is not bigger and more iconic than it already is,” Andrew Li of Cherrybrook said.

“[Opponents’] wishes are selfish, a true reflection of the sad NIMBYism that holds our city back.”

At least 100 submissions against Barangaroo came from residents complaining views would be lost.

“We will go from living in a village to being hemmed in at all sides by an overgrown concrete jungle,” Jonathon Rubinsztein said.

Former NSW Government architect Chris Johnston said NIMBYs were addicted to Sydney’s colonial past and its sandstone Parisian character.

“The only way Sydney is going to remain globally relevant is to go up,” he said. “There is a growing number of urban people who like the energy of the city. People who protest are not connected to the vitality of urban cities.”

Building heights in the CBD are pegged at about 60 storeys, just 7m higher than MLC Tower.

Sydney’s tallest structure Centrepoint Tower, at 305m tall, would not be allowed today – its observation tower will forever be the highest viewpoint in the city.

Until 1967, the tallest construction in Sydney was the Harbour Bridge, which is 134m high.
Read more:


It’s a two-minute ride to the top of the recently completed Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 828m the world’s tallest building / AFP

Petronas was edged out by Taipei 101 in Taiwan, soaring to 509m. For $NT400 (about $14), the 89th floor offers views right across the city to the mountains / Flickr user (Debug)

In 1976 the Canadians opened Toronto’s CN Tower. At 553m, it dominates the skyline and attracts about two million visitors annually / Flickr user Paulo.Barcellos

In 1889, it was the turn of the 317m Eiffel Tower. Ascent to the topmost third floor costs E13 (about $20) and evening is the best time to visit, with fewer people about and a more romantic atmosphere / Reuters

The Great Pyramid of Giza reigned as the tallest structure on Earth for more than 4000 years / Reuters

The Great Pyramid of Giza lost its supremacy to Lincoln Cathedral in the UK. You can ascend its 160m tower to get a glimpse of how awesome this building must have seemed to medieval onlookers / supplied

Head to America next because the Washington Monument became the titleholder in 1884. It’s free but involves some laborious security checks and long lines / AP

Towards the end of the century, a shift in economic daring saw the Malaysians open their 452m Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Though shorter than CN Tower, these were considered the world’s tallest buildings, rather than structure, thanks to their continuous floors / AP

When the Chrysler Building opened in New York in 1929 it topped the Eiffel Tower by 2m. This is the only building in the world’s tallest list to have no observation floor / AP

Not much more than a month later than the Chryseler Building’s opening, the nearby Empire State Building became the world’s tallest building at 443m / AP

Across the straits in mainland China, Shanghai World Financial Centre may only be the third-tallest building in the world but, at 477m, its 100th-floor observation deck is the world’s loftiest / AP