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They put the trees in before the people.  Buildings set back from the street, wide verges, wide verge gardens & street trees, as well as trees outside each ground floor unit.

They put the trees in before the people. Buildings set back from the street, wide verges, wide verge gardens & street trees, as well as trees outside each ground floor unit.

This is right beside the rail line.

This is right beside the rail line. 

Last week we wandered around a new high-rise housing complex in Erskineville & we were impressed.  The development included a few of what I believe are fundamental elements in providing housing that is humane & livable & not just building a ghetto for the sake of a developer’s profits.

None of the buildings have been built right to the footpath, which unfortunately seems to be the norm in the high-rise development that has been happening across Marrickville & Dulwich Hill over the past couple of years. Instead, the buildings are set back from the street, providing room for street trees, verge gardens & other landscaping, as well as pedestrians.

The spaces between buildings are more than pedestrian thoroughfares. They are attractive green spaces with plenty of seating under the shade of trees. These are places for people to meet, people to read a paper, or just sit.

Once the trees have grown there will be plenty of shade throughout the streets & between apartment blocks. Of interest is that all the newly planted trees are already tall. That developer has already provided many substantial trees before those homes are inhabited.

This community won’t be waiting 5-years plus for trees to grow to where they start providing a modicum of benefit. I’ll bet that incidence of tree vandalism will be low to non-existent because of their size.

Ground-floor apartments have a tree in their small front garden. This tree will provide shade, privacy, a green outlook & importantly, protection from particulate matter in air pollution. Many of the trees will provide the same benefits for people in the floors above. This is evident by the gum trees in the neighbouring development that are already 6-storeys tall.

Mature trees have been retained where possible, rather than removing every tree from the block before building.  Trees & landscaping have been used to add attractiveness to the apartment blocks.

Having buildings set back from the street & separated from each other improves quality of life for the residents. Noise levels from traffic & trains would be less. Noise from other apartment blocks would also be less.

The roads have been made into single lanes with regular in-street tree planting. Underground parking has been provided, leaving the street parking for visitors.

This development has been built along the railway line. The area in front of the railway line has been planted both with trees & other plants. The trees & landscaping will help buffer the noise from passing trains, as well as provide a wall of green for people to look at.

Shop space has been included, but not as a line of shops underneath an apartment building. They are generally one shop space on a corner of an apartment block & one already looks set to be a café.   In comparison, The Revolution apartments in Marrickville currently have a DA to make the large shop space underneath the apartments into a gambling den serving alcohol until something like 2am.

It’s all very new right now & much of the development is still being built. However, what they have done is show that high-rise living can be built in a way that seriously respects the well-being of the people who will live there.

The norm in high density should be room to move outside, green leafy streets & quiet spaces within & around the complex. Seems that many developers surrender their social responsibility to provide adequate green space in their developments to the possibility that there may be a public park nearby.  New high-rise development should not be squashed-in to maximize profit.  In this development, they seem to be taking their social responsibilities seriously.  Kudos.

Marrickville municipality developers and councilors who go for substandard plans should learn a lesson from this development. Architects should learn not to downgrade what designs & facilities they put into their plans to just what the law requires. We must keep in mind that our municipality has the lowest ratio of green public space across the country.

Even if Marrickville municipality developers, architects & councillors do not wish to play a leadership role, they can as a minimum just follow good examples, like this development, which is just a few metres outside our municipality.

Another section beside the rail line.  Street trees are still being planted.

Another section beside the rail line. Street trees are still being planted.  This verge is a swale to capture water that comes down from the rail line.

Everywhere are verge gardens on either side of the path.  Nowhere does concrete actually meet the building wall.

Everywhere are verge gardens on either side of the path. It’s only in a few places where concrete actually meets the building wall.

A tree outside every unit, plus a verge garden & street trees.  Before long this area will be very leafy, green, cool & shady.

A tree outside every unit, plus a verge garden & street trees. Before long this area will be very leafy, green, cool & shady.

This is a new development next door where people are already living.  Note the tall gum trees everywhere.  There are also lots of other big shady trees in this development, including fig trees.

This is a new development next door where people are already living. Note the tall gum trees everywhere. There is tons of landsaping & also lots of other big shady trees in this development, including fig trees.  This is far better than a high-rise apartment block built directly to the footpath.  

Showing the boundary of the proposed Victoria Road Precinct. Click to enlarge.

Showing the boundary of the proposed 18-hectare Victoria Road Precinct. Click to enlarge.

Call me naïve, but what much of what I learnt during the Council Meetings I observed came as a surprise. One of the most important insights was the incremental changes, brick by brick, & the Victoria Road Precinct is a great example.

The developers came to the May 2012 Council Meeting & said what they wanted to do with the 18-hectare site.  The Councillors voted as follows –

Clrs Olive (Greens), Phillips (Greens), Byrne (Greens), O’Sullivan (Labor) & Wright (Labor) against the proposal.  Mayor Hanna (Ind), Clrs Macri, (Ind), Iskandar (Labor), Tsardoulias (Labor), Thanos (Ind) for the proposal with the then Mayor Hanna (Ind) using his casting vote to pass the vote. See –

During the extensive consultation process for the Local Environment Plan (LEP), the community was shown things like height restrictions & floor-space ratio & together with Marrickville Council, agreed on a development plan for the future. I have been very surprised that the LEP has been changed a number of times post approval & is still being amended to allow for more rezoning, development & higher buildings.

Since the LEP was finalised, the total for new dwellings for Marrickville has increased from a government required 4,150 by 2031 to a Councillor increased amount of 12,000 whenever these dwellings can be built.   The debate in Council Meetings went something like, though don’t quote me – “I remember when Marrickville had 110,000 residents & it was busy on the main street. Marrickville can cope.”

Once the LEP was finalised development started & many in the community went into shock with the ugliness of some of the developments, the loss of heritage buildings & the application for 16-storey high-rise in a location where 8-storeys was the maximum in the LEP.

“But how can this be allowed?” was a very common response from the community & they had to start fighting Council to prevent this. Thankfully Railcorp saved the day & stopped the 16-storey development because it encroached on Railcorp land.

In response to community outrage over a high-rise development in Dulwich Hill, Mayor Haylen lobbied for an Architectural Excellence Panel & thankfully, this was established.  Problem is though, this panel cannot be employed to assess every development because of the costs to rate-payers & if the Councillors don’t vote to send the DA to the panel, it doesn’t get assessed.

Earlier this month I sat in a Marrickville Council Meeting & watched the Councillors vote to allow for one-bedroom apartments that were a whopping 40% BELOW the floor-space ratio requirements.  My question is how can this be allowed?

The “Victoria Road Precinct” development is on the agenda for next Tuesday’s Infrastructure, Planning & Environmental Services Committee meeting on 2nd September 2014 & for the first time I see mention of 14-storey buildings planned for this massive 18-hectare site.  This is vastly different from the 6-storey buildings shown in their proposed images of the site that was provided to the Councillors in the Council Meeting of May 2012.

One other point that I think is important is that the development of the Victoria Road Precinct will be razing most of the area to the ground.  Also in Tuesday’s Infrastructure, Planning & Environmental Services Committee meeting is the attempt to save the lovely Beynon & Hayward building in Livingstone Road Petersham to be demolished to extend a Council car park. The community does not want to lose this iconic building, judging by the numbers who signed the petition & the comments left on the local Facebook site. See –

Both the National Trust & the Australian Institute of Architects have criticized Marrickville Council over this move. Also an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the proposed demolishion said –

“London or New York might salivate at the prospect of reviving an inner-city heritage landmark, but in Sydney it seems we’d still just as readily swap character for a car park.”

Back to the Victoria Road Precinct, a new modern glass, steel & concrete precinct is not at all in keeping with the character of Marrickville in my opinion.  Many of these buildings could be repaired & repurposed to make the area similar to those in London or New York. However, the plan is to make this area of Marrickville look like what is happening to Alexandria at the moment – a suburb of high-rise square blocks.

Demolishing all the buildings may be easier for the developers, but I personally think it will be a loss to the community & to Sydney itself.  The Meatpacking District in Manhattan was once regarded as a slum, but since it has been rejuvenated it is now a marvellous place to live & work. Part of the charm is that the buildings were retained & repurposed into housing & employment.

I am in total agreement with this recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald.  It is about the Beynon & Hayward building, but it could just as easily be about the proposed plans for the Victoria Road Precinct.


Marrickville Council is under heavy fire from heritage experts, who fear “ill-informed” decision makers are repeating Sydney’s errors of last century in the race to redevelop increasingly valuable inner-city space.” See –


Now I must state clearly that I am NOT against development & that I believe that we need more housing.

I just would like development to conform to the height restrictions & floor/space ratios in the LEP, not be substandard housing & also retain as much of the streetscape character of the area. It can be done well & beautifully. See my post on The Gantry in Camperdown for an example of great housing that retains the façade, yet provides housing of a great standard of modern housing for the same or similar financial outlay as other recent housing developments in Marrickville & Dulwich Hill that are currently polarizing the community.

I would also like the so-called “affordable housing” to actually be affordable & for those that are rental “affordable housing” to be given to actual finacially poor people & not to people based on what job they have.

My greatest fear is that I will end up living in an area that has lost much of what motivated me to move here in the first place.  I fear that traffic, which is already becoming unmanageable, will be horrendous. I believe that, if this push for  concrete, glass & steel high-rise goes ahead, the community will be asking why were these developments allowed just like they do about many of the local monstrosities built in the 1970s.

We are in the hands of our Councillors. Let’s hope they do not destroy Marrickville for the profit of developers.

Planning diagram of the development proposal for the Victoria Road precinct back in May 2012 - nothing like the current 14-storeys proposed.

Planning diagram of the development proposal for the Victoria Road precinct back in May 2012 – I can’t see the 14-storeysas currently  proposed.

The planning diagrams for the  Victoria Road frontage of the Victoria Road precinct as part of the development proposal.  Again, nothing like the 14-storeys currently proposed.

The planning diagrams for the Victoria Road frontage of the Victoria Road precinct as part of the development proposal in May 2012. Again, nothing like the 14-storeys currently proposed.

The original facade in Camperdown has been retained.  The trees on the left are in Camperdown Park.

The original facade has been retained. The trees on the left are in Camperdown Park.  The trees on the right were planted as part of the development.

Attractive seating, attractive fences, plus great trees & gardens.   In there is also a swimming pool.

Attractive seating, attractive fencing, plus great trees & gardens. In there is also a swimming pool.

part of the public walkway.  Care has been taken to make this area attractive as well.

Part of the public walkway looking onto Denison Street. Care has been taken to make this area attractive as well.

Street tree planting & verge gardens were part of the development project.

Street tree planting & verge gardens were part of the development project.  I think it looks wonderful.

For quite a while there has been frequent debate on Facebook regarding the plethora of apartment developments recently built in Marrickville & Dulwich Hill, in the process of being constructed or currently in the DA process. I think it is good to see such community interest.

The majority who leave comments are not against high-rise & recognise the need for more housing, though it is my impression that there is a consensus that the Local Environment Plan should be respected in regards to height restrictions. There are varying opinions as to whether retaining facades or recreating facades is good or the all-modern concrete & glass boxes are the way to go.  Many want to facades to fit in with the streetscape & I am one of those who hold this view.

The term “affordable housing” is used often; though $500,000 plus for a one-bedroom apartment is not anywhere near what I would consider affordable.  The term is a misnomer in my opinion.

A couple of weekends ago I visited Camperdown Park.  From there I noticed a lot of new street tree planting & verge gardens, so I went over to have a look.  I found myself outside a relatively new apartment development called ‘The Gantry.’  After having a good look around & after talking to residents I came away thinking that this is the way to provide very livable housing.

While I was looking around, I kept thinking of the new developments happening & the community conversation about these developments.

The Gantry offers one, two, three & four bedroom apartments, so the complex does offer that politically hot term – “affordable housing.”  To offer a comparison, the pricing is similar to ‘The Revolution’ on Illawarra Road Marrickville, though from the whole outlook & green space provision, the two are poles apart.

‘The Gantry,’ located at 139-143 Parramatta Road, Camperdown is where the Fowler pottery warehouses & High Bay building used to be.  Marrickville is famous for Fowler Pottery, so it is wonderful to have retained this historical link while repurposing the factory.  The complex also fronts Denison & Australia Streets & is opposite Camperdown Park.

The Architects managed to keep the historic façade.  They also incorporated verge gardens & street trees, radically improving on what was a treeless & visually harsh side of the road. The shape of the buildings was interesting & quite attractive, so I am very pleased that they were retained.

This development shows that very good, personable & livable housing can be designed & that it can fit into the streetscape without looking like an ultra-modern building in a primarily Federation style area.  Of interest, there is gated underground parking for residents.

Inside is modern, while outside retained the façade that has been here since the 1850s. To me, this is important. Other big cities of the world like London, Paris & New York have retained much of their building history & I cannot see why the same cannot be done for Sydney. I can remember when the Queen Victoria building was regarded as an eyesore & there was a strong push to knock it down, just like they did to the Anthony Horden Building in Haymarket. Now the Queen Victoria building is viewed a jewel in the heart of Sydney’s CBD & we lost the gorgeous Anthony Horden Building.

I was very surprised at the amount of green space in The Gantry development. A public walkway paved with old bricks (not concrete or granite), cuts between two buildings.  Here a panel describing the history of the building is mounted on the wall.  Above are metal beams & glass that open up to the sky. Many examples of original fowler pottery have been mounted onto the wall to further provide a historical link. I am sure this building will be put on a tourist trail, if this hasn’t happened already. People can come & see without intruding on the residents who live here.

This is a very clever way to soften the visual environment.

This is a very clever way to soften the visual environment.

The walkway has long good-looking wooden benches where people can sit. There are plants everywhere.  Grasses have been used, but not as the dominant plant.  There are a wide variety of hardy plants & quite a few tall growing trees. Pot plants line corridors between buildings, so nature features everywhere.

Street trees have been planted at regular intervals on both Denison & Australia Streets.  Even the planting of the verge gardens is imaginative & attractive.   There is quite a bit to learn from their low maintenance plant choices.

There are two large garden areas that are like large pocket parks. These are perfect places to catch a bit of sun, read a book or the like.  There is also a good-sized swimming pool.   The very leafy Camperdown Park is just across the road complete with incredible moving exercise equipment available to use for free.   It’s like a mini-gym of quality that I don’t think I’ve seen in any other park in the municipality.

All the people I spoke to said they liked living there & it did not seem to be a place where people bought as a stop-gap before moving on to something better.  It is a humanistic environment with softness that nature provides.  I think the Architect who designed The Gantry did really well & three cheers to the developer who wanted to add quality housing, not just make a quick buck. This is an excellent example of what can be done when designing high-density housing.  I just wish this were the norm.

A nice place to sit while waiting for your friends to come out.  Everywhere you look there are plants & trees.

A nice place to sit while waiting for your friends to come out. Everywhere you look there are plants & new tree plantings.

The Australia Street landscaping that first caught my eye.  The Street Tree Master Plan says Council will not plant street trees opposite parks. Despite the large trees in Camperdown Park, I believe this street will look wonderful once these Poplars have grown up.

The Australia Street landscaping that first caught my eye. The Marrickville Street Tree Master Plan says Council will not plant street trees opposite parks, however, these plantings have been done as part of the development.   It looks wonderful now & will be even more lovely when these Poplars have grown up.

The historical signage inside the public walkway

The historical signage inside the public walkway. Again, look at the variety of plants.

Looking upwards.  On the wall is orginal Fowler pottery.  It looks clean, bright & very attractive to my eyes.

Looking upwards. On the wall is orginal Fowler pottery. It looks clean, bright & very attractive to my eyes.

They have chosen easy to manage, hardy & attractive plants with a tree planted in every verge garden.

They have chosen easy to manage, hardy & attractive plants with a tree planted in every verge garden.


In Steel Park Marrickville South you get wooden benches & chin-up poles for free-to-use exercise equipment, which is great. In Camperdown Park you get state-of-the-art equipment, also free-to-use.

In Steel Park Marrickville South you get wooden benches & chin-up poles for free-to-use exercise equipment, which is great.  In Camperdown Park you get state-of-the-art equipment, also free-to-use.  There is a vast difference.



There is big news right at the start of Marrickville Council Meetings for the New Year, which commences next Tuesday.  I suspect it will be ongoing news for some time.

In late 2012 building corporation Meriton made an offer of $5 million to Marrickville Council to be allowed to add a further 10-storeys to one of the towers of controversial Lewisham Towers development.  This would have taken the tower from 10-storeys to 20 storeys.

Greens Councillor Max Phillips informed the community, with the Sydney Morning Herald publishing an article about Meriton’s offer on 11th December 2012.  Clr Phillips has always maintained that he was not aware that the oral briefing from staff to Councillors was confidential.


A code of conduct complaint against Cr Phillips was pursued on a split vote of council with then mayor Victor Macri using his casting vote.”


The matter was referred to the Division of Local Government who suspended Clr Phillips for a period of two months starting on 17th February 2014 because he refused to apologise for this actions.

Essentially, Clr Phillips was not punished for informing the community of the $5 million dollar offer by Meriton to Marrickville Council.  He was punished for refusing to apologise for doing so.  Clr Phillips is appealing the suspension.

On 28th January 2013 Clr Phillips posted the following on Facebook –

I’ve been informed that the Division of Local Government has ordered my suspension as a Marrickville councillor for 2 months starting 17 Feb. The suspension is because I refuse to apologise for letting the community know about a developer proposal on the Lewisham Towers in late 2012.

I am refusing to apologise because I am not sorry and believe I acted ethically in informing the community.  I could offer an insincere apology, but that would be dishonest and I refuse to lie. 

I will appeal the decision as I believe it is wrong for council and the Division of Local Government to put pressure on a councillor to offer an insincere apology under threat of a sanction.”

Not surprisingly, there was lots of discussion on Facebook.  I have cherry-picked to give an idea of the community response –

“I want more housing in the Inner West but he should not have been fined and the public should have been told about the $5 million.”

“….. council effectively took an alleged bribe, did not correctly disclose info to the citizens, and unjustifiably punished the one who cared about what is right.”

“We will see more and more developers entering into voluntary planning agreements in a bid to overturn local environment plans. There needs to be a high level of transparency in these agreements as they essentially overturn plans that have had extensive community consultation.  In station street a developer is trying to build a sixteen story tower where only 8 storeys is approved. They are promising the council all kinds if things; none of which benefit the community.  I get frustrated as it feels like we never know what really goes on.  The certainty of living in an area, and knowing and accepting a planned level of development is turned on its head. You think you have a fair idea of the level of development that will happen around you, then a developer can come in and swing a bag of cash at council, and then it gets doubled. This has nothing to do with nimbyism or having a sustainable level of development in an area, it’s about a council that could be deemed as untrustworthy (or corrupt!).”

“Are you serious? It’s a pretty basic requirement that 1) councils do not sell questionable approvals to developers 2) any plans to change to the published development restrictions are made public, and made open to public discussion. Procedural fairness? FFS”

“….. Councillor Phillips has been suspended because he refused to apologise as ordered by council resolution. It’s Kafkaesque in it’s absurdity. I’d rather have the matter of the five million investigated rather than a stupid suspension because he refuses to apologise for what was essentially an act of good conscious.  The suspension isn’t even because he revealed the information, it’s because he’s not repentant enough. Absurd – stupidly absurd.”

“This is stupid and petty and akin to punishing a whistleblower. We deserve a Council that’s better than that.”

Any money offers from developers to obtain extra storeys above the planning instrument levels should be made known to the community.  The community should have a right to make submissions to the decision-makers (our Councillors) as to whether it thinks any offer is acceptable & a good bargain for the obvious loss it suffers from over development.  Many in our community are appalled & feel very unsafe that the Local Environment Plan can be overturned because of a Voluntary Planning Agreement, which is essentially money changing hands for a developer being able to go beyond the restrictions of the Local Environment Plan.

With a significant section of the community in support of their right to know what sorts of deals may be on offer to secure favourable decisions for development over and above the standards in our planning instruments, it will be interesting to see how the appeal goes.  In such climate the meetings of the new year may also make interesting viewing.

Marrickville Greens has a post on Clr Phillips’s suspension –  & here is an article in the Sydney Morning Herald – & the Daily Telegraph –

Bromiliads, spider plants, ferns, geraniums & other plants in a simple, but very effective green wall.

Bromiliads, spider plants, ferns, geraniums & other plants in a simple, but very effective green wall.

“Green, but not square.  Only for the Adventurous,” reads the advertising sign.  What I saw was enough for me to park the car & go for a closer look.  Why?  Because the 3-storey sign was surrounded by a green wall.

This was the first time I have seen a green wall used to highlight advertising & it looked good.  I know I am not the only one who dislikes billboards & advertising on buildings. Many people consider this kind of advertising a blight on the landscape.  However, it is a reality of modern day life & because it brings in lucrative returns for the land or building owners, is here to stay.

So if we have to have advertising on the side of buildings, let them all be surrounded by plants.  It is very striking & a much better way to draw attention without a chunk of negative thoughts associated with it.  The plants also work for free adding oxygen & purifying the air, as well as adding beauty.

The sign I am writing about was on the side of the street-side building of Sydney Corporate Park, a 20-hectare commercial & industrial estate at 180 Burke Road Alexandria.   Another point of interest was the vast number of solar panels covering one very large roof that is visible from the road.

The sign itself advertises Sydney Corporate Park (SCP).  Around it are thousands of plants held in a geo-textile matrix.  Only a small section has not flourished & eventually, it will probably reseed itself.  The rest is like a jungle.  Standing there I noticed that the air was much cooler & even smelt nice.

I was interested to learn more about why an industrial estate would pay for a green wall installation, so I did an internet search.  I found that 6,000 people work here with 4,000 visiting the shops, gym, function rooms, GPs & cafes daily.

The complex prides itself on being green & sustainable.  There are a number of initiatives that make sure that it can make this claim with pride –

  • Rainwater collection from the roofs.  SCP harvests around one million litres of rain each month. This water is used for cleaning, flushing toilets & watering garden beds, of which there are many.
  • A wind turbine produces 4 kwh of energy.
  • ‘Intelligent lighting’ provides the right amount of light where & when it is needed.  They do not turn on exterior lights when there is enough natural light & lights are timed to minimize energy consumption.
  • 600 panels provide solar hot water to the site generating around 450kWh per day.
  • There are double glazed windows & louvers.
  • There is also natural ventilation, sunshades & lower air-conditioning use.
  • Urinals are waterless.
  • Construction used recycled steel & bricks.
  • A $600,000 rooftop solar farm produces 600 kWh per day.
  • By today, 15th January 2014, SCP has avoided adding 130,648.23 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Very commendable.
  • A massive tower holds an organic compost system that takes food waste from onsite cafes & material from the gardens.  The resulting compost is used on the many garden beds around the complex.
  • By December 2013, SCP recycled 19.22 tonnes of waste with 80% of waste generated not going to landfill.
  • SCP has a shared passenger transfer service across the complex, so single passenger cars do not need to be used.
  • Bicycle use is encouraged & racks provided.
  • Segway people movers are also used in the complex.  What fun that would be.

No wonder Sydney Corporate Park won Australia’s Best Business Park award in 2012.

Marrickville municipality is already undergoing development & is set to undertake a great deal more in the near future.  Developments like Sydney Corporate Park show us what we can expect our Council, Councillors & the new Architectural Excellence Panel to push for both in housing & mixed-use estates.

The Victoria Road Precinct proposal for a mixed-use estate (see – should also be aiming to do as much as SCP as they said it is to be a 6-star energy-rating precinct.

Businesses will move into complexes like the SCP because in the long run sustainability saves money.  It also brings patronage from a savvy & aware community, which also means money & making money is what business is all about.

If a leafy outlook in a shopping strip brings 11% more spending, imagine the increase when the whole complex is about being responsible to the environment & ultimately your children’s & your grandchildren’s future.

With climate change already obvious, we as a community will have to change & considerably improve the way we do things & this includes buildings. 

Architects have a first line responsibility to encourage & include as many sustainable features in their designs as possible.  Development cannot & should not continue to be as basic as it can. 

Whacking in a few hundred air-conditioning units & failing to provide trees, green space, rooftop water collection, communal composting & solar hot water/electricity is failing the residents & ultimately the whole community.  These changes are achievable & they do make a significant & positive environmental impact, as well as improve livability.

I hope the initiatives of Sydney Corporate Park become the norm across industrial, mixed-use & residential high-rise in the near future.  Plus a green wall around advertising signs is a very smart move.  I would not have looked twice nor researched this complex if that green wall had not been there.

Screenshot of Google map of Sydney Corporate Park.  Notice the many trees on the property.

Screenshot of Google map of Sydney Corporate Park. Notice the many trees on the property.

The green sign front on

The green sign front on

Close-up of the plants.  It was cool to stand here.

Close-up of the plants. It was cool to stand here.



244 Wardell Road Dulwich Hill

244 Wardell Road Dulwich Hill

Kudos to Marrickville Mayor Haylen who put forward a proposal at the Council Meeting of 3rd December 2013 to establish an Architectural Excellence Panel.  This panel will review & make recommendations on the architectural merit of future development proposals.  The proposal was passed unanimously.

“The establishment of the Panel comes in the wake of community disquiet over the new multi-storey development at 244 Wardell Road Dulwich Hill.  The decision by Council to reject this development was successfully appealed by the developer to the Land & Environment Court.

The panel will send a very loud & clear message to developers that Marrickville Council is paying close attention to the architectural quality of new buildings.   It will tell developers that Council takes very seriously the issue of design excellence & will encourage those developers to engage architects with proven level of expertise in the first place.”

Members of the panel will be well-regarded & experienced Sydney architects, as well as Council’s own design staff.

There are numerous examples of horribly ugly buildings in Marrickville LGA, many of them built in the 70s & 80s & they are a blight on the landscape.  I live near a number of these buildings & even after nearly two decades living here, I still cringe when I see them.    It must be worse for those that live in these buildings.

The Architectural Excellence Panel is an excellent idea.  Development is coming to Marrickville at a rate of knots & this will change our municipality in a fairly major way, at least in the town centres.  The very least that should happen is that these buildings look great & are great for people to live in.

There have been serious concerns with the community regarding the height of some buildings proposed, especially as they go beyond the height limits set out by the Local Environment Plan (LEP), sometimes by several storeys.  Hopefully the Architectural Excellence Panel will insist that the LEP is adhered to, as well as ensure that the buildings add beauty to their location & add to the character, not detract.

One thing that personally bothers me is that many new apartment blocks are built right up to the footpath boundary.  I understand that the developer wants to maximize their profit by building the whole of the site.   But Council should insist on allowing 3-5 metres undeveloped space from the footpath boundary, even if this may need negotiating to allow development of an extra storey.   The undeveloped parcel may remain in the developer’s property to look after & may in appropriate circumstances be negotiated as a transfer of ownership of the parcel to  Council.

For one it would ensure that people that live in these buildings are not butted up against the road.  The extra space facing the street would allow for landscaping or a larger footpath area. It would also allow for decent-sized trees to be planted.  The trees would assist the residents of the building by collecting particulate matter from vehicles & therefore improving the air quality inside their homes & businesses if ground floor shops were included.  Looking out onto trees would also add to the livability of these apartments.  Importantly, the presence of trees is known to increase business by 11%.   Everyone would benefit, including the wider community because we all see these buildings, even if we don’t live next to them.

Wider footpaths would mean more room for pedestrians.  It would also leave space for landscaping & outdoor seating if there was a café/restaurant included in the building, as seems to be common.

Building right to the footpath creates a canyon effect, increases the hours of shade making it a cold area & also increases wind.  Add a wind tunnel to shade & this can make shopping unpleasant.  Anything unpleasant often sends shoppers to the controlled comfort of a shopping mall.

This extra 3-5 metres of footpath could be focused on Placemaking.  Because there would be room to do so, the area in front of the building could be beautified & used for a number of purposes – trees, landscaping, outdoor seating, areas to meet, public art, performance space – the options is only hampered by imagination.

Obviously, there would be some areas where this would not be able to happen because the façade of a building needs to be retained in any new development or the extra storey would have too much an impact on surrounding houses.  However, every new area of open space would improve the municipality in my opinion.  Look how popular Telstra Square (site of the ‘I Have a Dream’ mural) & outside the Hub in Newtown are.  People are always congregating in these two spaces despite the traffic & despite that one of the sites desperately needs work.  When people have room they often create their own placemaking.

I love that an Architectural Excellence Panel is being established.  I think it is an excellent idea & demonstrates that the Mayor is listening to a community that is becoming increasingly disgruntled about the aesthetics & impacts of new buildings.

We all know & accept that development for housing is necessary because of an increasing population.  However, development doesn’t need to be ugly, imposing or destructive to the character of the inner west.  There is much that we like about the look of Marrickville municipality, which is one of the reasons why we all chose to live here.

Hopefully the Architectural Excellence Panel will prevent development from leaving the community a legacy that punishes us all for the next few decades.  Aesthetics is a very important factor when creating a livable area.

Mayor Haylen mentioned our “charm-filled streets.”  I think it is attainable to retain this with new development.  With creativity & the co-operation of developers, our area could make the transition to higher density without huge detriments.

Front on view

Front on view

Further down the hill

Further down the hill

From near he trafic lights.  Another multi-storey development is happening this side of the road that appears to be built to the footpath

Taken from near the traffic lights at Ewart Street. Another multi-storey development is happening on this side of the road that appears to be built right up to the footpath



Can you imagine a 110-metre-high apartment complex with the walls covered in 100,000 native & exotic plants?  Well it is about to happen at One Central Park, the new retail/residential area called Central Park at Broadway in Chippendale due to be completed in 2013.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald said the building complex will have, “two dozen ”green wall” panels, some as high as 16-storeys, which will be attached to the north & south facades of the development’s east & west towers facing Broadway.”

“Species include varieties of red, pink and purple bougainvillea, dwarf bottle brushes, with deep-red flowers, and vine species with flowers in whites, reds, yellows and purples.”

As well as the 24 vertical green walls there will be 2,700 planter boxes attached to the unit balconies. Levels 29-33 of the east tower will have a Sky Garden that juts out & hovers in the air.  There is a 1.5-minute video connected with the article.

The Central Park complex will also have a public park, approximately 6,500 square metres & will span 115-metres in length & 50-metres in width, in a rectangular shape.”  It will have cycle way, a pedestrian boulevard, a large water feature & public art.  You can read more about this here –

The City of Sydney Council is currently setting up a Green Roofs & Walls Strategy.  This tells me they have great plans to incorporate these green initiatives into new developments as part of their overall plan to green the city & suburbs that make up the City of Sydney LGA.

When I read what the City of Sydney is planning for greening the city & suburbs, I feel happy as this is my city too & I do have an emotional investment.  I also wish that the City of Sydney’s attitude to innovative strategies for greening the environment flows through to my own Council.  I hope that the new developments that will be springing up throughout Marrickville municipality will have visible green features & an emphasis on making people-friendly places.

Photo of the artists image of the One Central Park complex published in the Sydney Morning Herald with thanks. Imagine how good this development will look.



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