Raise your voice: protect Sydney’s iconic historic views

The National Trust (NSW) needs your urgent help to amplify our advocacy. We are calling on members to urgently make a submission against the proposed Central Barangaroo Concept modification.

Infrastructure NSW has placed plans on public exhibition for Central Barangaroo, the last piece of Barangaroo to be developed.

The National Trust (NSW) is outraged at the proposed plan, which increases building heights and floor space, and will block historic public realm views to and from Observatory Hill, and to parts of the Harbour Bridge.

Current view (left). Proposed view (right).

What is the issue?

In 2007, a concept design that included three towers of 29m-34m height, was approved for Central Barangaroo, the last Barangaroo precinct to be developed.  The Concept, though approved by the NSW government, was met with fierce opposition from the community and City of Sydney Council.

Now, 15 years later, Infrastructure NSW has lodged a Modification to the Concept Design.  Rather than mitigating the impacts of the earlier concept, this Modification instead seeks to amplify the negative impacts, proposing increases in height from 38m to 47m across most buildings, a 140% increase in gross floor area (from 47,688sqm to 144,355sqm) and shockingly, proposes a 73.7m tower at the northern end that would block the historic community views from The Rocks.

What does this mean?

The proposed concept modification would:

  • Block public views west from Observatory Hill
  • Block public views of White Bay Power Station from Observatory Hill
  • Block public views of the water from key places and streets in historic Millers Point
  • Sever the maritime relationship of historic Millers Point with the water
  • Block public views of the Harbour Bridge from Pyrmont Peninsula and Pirrama Park.
Current view (left). Proposed view (right).

The proposed modification to the Concept:

  • Is NOT consistent with the approved Concept
  • Is NOT consistent with the Statement of Commitments issued for the Barangaroo Development
  • Is NOT consistent with the Sydney Harbour Regional Environmental Plan requirements for the protection of public views
  • Is NOT consistent with the policies in the Sydney Harbour Bridge Conservation Management Plan, for the protection of public iconic views
  • Does NOT respect the heritage significance of Observatory Hill
  • Does NOT respect the heritage significance of Millers Point.
Visualisation of potential impact to public views.

As Robert Hughes noted at the National Trust Annual Heritage Lecture in 1998, the issue is: “…a question of equity as well, since the heritage of the city should belong to everyone, not be reserved for the enjoyment of the wealthy few who can afford the inevitably scarce views from the tallest buildings.

The air is common property and that’s why no one has the right to fill it with effluents. Large buildings are, in a sense, common property too: they become part of a common visual environment and to degrade that environment is, in a real sense, to undercut the civility on which all cities, including Sydney, depend.

Sydney Harbour is too valuable, too sensitive to intrusion after so many years of treating the visual environment as nothing more than a raw asset.”

What can you do?

Help the National Trust  (NSW) protect YOUR views. We need a flood of submissions against this concept and a flood of letters to your local members.

  • Write a submission saying why you are opposed to the concept modification, and
  • Send a copy of your submission your local member!

Where to make your submission

Use this QR code to go straight to the submission page:

Or visit  the submission page. If you have difficulty, please contact us on advocacy@nationaltrust.com.au and we will email you detailed instructions.

Jane Alexander

Author

Jane Alexander - M.ICOMOS

Jane Alexander, heritage advocate, archaeologist and built heritage specialist, is the Advocacy Manager at the National Trust (NSW).

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  1. sincerely oppose the potentially another blight on Sydney landscape as proposed by this development. It is bad enough and degrading on the daily basis that the tallest and most visible iconic building of Sydney has become the recently completed temple to gambling – the Casino. The current proposal is equally inconsistent with the Statement of Commitments issued for the Barangaroo Development, inconsistent with the Sydney Harbour Regional Environmental Plan requirements for the protection of public views and contrary to the policies in the Sydney Harbour Bridge Conservation Management Plan, for the protection of public iconic views.

  2. It is difficult to imagine the working of the minds that would propose this blight on our Heritage and enjoyment of our city. The view from Observatory Hill is one of the best in the world and must be preserved for our citizens. Australia is working hard to diminish its world position for protection of heritage, culture and society and this building would surely prove to the world that money is our only concern. The Government must step up to up honour its commitments to preserve our harbour and its environs.

  3. The power of theDevelopment Lobby is staggering in that they are able to obtain support from our politicians so such intrusive developments!!!

  4. Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention. I followed the link and made a few salient points. It was 5 minutes out of my day that hopefully will help.

  5. enough is enough regarding tall buildings :- 73.7 m , even 36.5 m is also too tall on the edge of our fore shore. You state the public have the park on the north end, but what about the observatory hill , as an artist why block the view looking back towards Pyrmont for thousands of people all in the name of money ?!! .

  6. I strongly object to the Modification to the Concept Design of Central Barangaroo . This Modification amplifies the negative impact of increasing the gross floor area (from 47,688sq.m to 144.35sq.m) and worst of all the proposal of a 73.7m Tower at its Northern End. This would block the historic views from the Rocks and from historic Observatory Hill. Also views of water from places and streets in historic Millers point! Let’s keep what is left of historic Sydney

  7. I strongly object to the Modification to the Concept Design of Central Barangaroo . This Modification amplifies the negative impact of increasing the gross floor area (from 47,688sq.m to 144.35sq.m) and worst of all the proposal of a 73.7m Tower at its Northern End. This would block the historic views from the Rocks and from historic Observatory Hill. Let’s keep what little is left of historic Sydney!

  8. Sydney is being insidiously changed for the worst so I must condemn the latest idea next to the Middle Finger, the group which used government land of the people to erect a monument to money.
    I heard of one man saying in all seriousness “We will soon look better than New York”. Why would Sydney
    People want that?

  9. This is nothing short of complete bastardisation of the harbour foreshore. All the natural beauty of the region will be lost in one foul blow and is shortsighted in the extreme. This is capitalism at its worst and will ruin an area of Sydney that is beautiful and steeped in history.

  10. i have studied the plans for the proposes development, it is an outrageous attempt to overdevelop the site; the proposal must be totally stuck down and not just reduced in scale.

  11. Absolutely obscene. Must not be permitted especially by the government of NSW – unless they were bribed by the developers – which perhaps they were.

  12. This proposed ‘Modification 9’ is not acceptable to the community on so many levels.

    These buildings, as proposed , will impact upon the visual views from the telescopes of Sydney Observatory – out to the low western sky, to be able to view the planets and moons of our solar system – which are best seen just after dusk in the low western sky. These building and tower will obstruct this view.

    I know that the planning department had not communicated with Sydney Observatory initially about the original plans for Barangaroo. I thought that this was all sorted in about 2009 -2010. As I know that the DPIE had discussed all of these issues with Sydney Observatory and modified the plans to ensure all buildings are below this required level. Where are the staff who had these discussions 12-14 years ago? Probably all gone, along with that knowledge and history.

    Sydney Observatory is both an historical building as well as a scientific and education precinct – which needs to be preserved as an operational observatory, for all future generations. I have often gone there to observe the rings of Saturn etc. with my children and I wish that my grandchildren can continue to do the same.

    This ability for science should not be surpassed or impacted by developers greed for more floor area and increased heights.

    Please refuse approval of these buildings and heights.

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