Sydney’s Green Square shrinks in latest development proposal

April 27, 2011

Landscape architects McGregor Coxall’s plans for a major public square at Green Square in Sydney cut in the latest proposal from developers.

Landscape architect Adrian McGregor says the development proposal for Sydney’s Green Square urban renewal project, currently being assessed by the City of Sydney, is “seriously flawed”.

The proposal, submitted to the City of Sydney by Leighton, Mirvac and Landcom significantly reduces the amount of public space provided as part of the Green Square Town Centre – public space that was to be designed by McGregor’s firm, McGregor Coxall.

McGregor Coxall’s design for the public domain of the key civic spaces and community buildings at Green Square was approved by the City of Sydney in 2008, following an international competition to design the city’s only major public square.

The firm’s approved design would deliver a sun-filled, 3000 square-metre public meeting place where up to 2500 people could gather for public events – a generous public space similar to Melbourne’s Federation Square. The firm’s proposal included three urban squares, a new park and a range of communal facilities arranged along a restored urban waterway. The design was met with strong support from local residents, and won a planning award from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture in 2008.

The current proposal cuts the main public square from 3000sqm to 820sqm, adding roads where pedestrian zones would have been and resulting in a diminished public space that would only have a capacity for 400 people. Increased building heights would also mean the plaza loses midday sunlight in winter, adds McGregor.

The redevelopment of Green Square began in 1998, when the 278-hectare former industrial site was selected by the NSW state government to be an exemplary urban regeneration project. The Arets Turner McGregor team won the competition to draw up the masterplan of the area in 2001, and McGregor Coxall was then commissioned by Landcom and the City of Sydney to design the public domain in 2007.

The City of Sydney estimates that by 2031, over 40,000 residents will live in the area and more than 22,000 people are predicted to be working around Green Square.

Leighton and Mirvac joined the development team in 2009. Changes made to the scheme since then, says McGregor, include a redesigned public space, a 73 percent reduction in the size of the main civic square, a reduced Gross Floor Area for the public library and community building, the addition of new roads and the loss of public seating and children’s play areas. Gross Floor Area in the current proposal sits at 38 percent above the LEP provisions, while much of the open public space has been removed to make way for more retail space.

McGregor says the newly elected NSW Government needs to review the planning processes involved. “In submitting this scheme Landcom have chosen to discard their own rigorous public approval process. Thee new NSW government has committed to transparent decision-making planning processes. This project needs to be reviewed by the new NSW government to determine whether a breach of public process has occurred,” he said.

A decision is expected to be made on the development proposal in the coming weeks.

*Images* courtesy McGregor Coxall

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