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Sydney Historical Site to Get Facelift
by Heidi Cassell
I moved to Darlington, NSW – a bordering neighborhood of North Eveleigh – three months ago. Since living here, I discovered many of the hidden cultural elements of the small suburb of Sydney. I visited CarriageWorks, a contemporary arts venue, several times, as well as some of the other local venues. From a personal perspective I feel North Eveleigh has the most character and potential, with its thriving local arts industry and its historical charm, than any of the other surrounding areas. One month ago I learned of the North Eveleigh / Redfern renovation project and became increasingly interested in the development plan. I have taken a deeper look into the renovation proposal and, as a local resident, feel largely disappointed with the direction the Sydney City Council is taking it.
North Eveleigh Redevelopment Project
Plans are in the works for the facelift of the North Eveleigh / Redfern area. Preparations for the redevelopment began in 2005 and recently went public in April 2008. As part of the North Eveleigh Redevelopment Project, the historical section of North Eveleigh – bounded by Wilson Street to the north, the railway corridor to the south, Iverys Lane to the west and residential development fronting Little Eveleigh Street – is being renovated or, in some cases, removed completely.
The historical, industrial character of the site is reflected in its railway infrastructure. The site encompasses an 11 hectare single lot, with no street network and large industrial buildings, which is reflective of the site’s past use. In previous decades, North Eveleigh was a hive of employment activity and railway operations. Today, the location is largely unused. There are a number of important heritage items located within the site; this includes CarriageWorks, Blacksmiths’ Shop, Chief Mechanical Engineers Office, Scientific Services Building No.1, Telecommunications Equipment Centre and the Paint Shop.
The proposed Concept Plan for the North Eveleigh site provides for a vibrant, mixed-use, sustainable community with its own identity, while also celebrating the sites industrial heritage. The plan also proposes for the reconnection the Eveleigh neighbourhood and immediate surrounding areas.
The new Eveleigh Markets will be split into four categories: commercial, residential, retail and cultural. The aim is to encourage employment within proximity to Redfern Railway Station, to encourage residential development on the western portion of the site in proximity to existing residential developments, and cultural and community uses in the middle of the site in proximity to the preexisting cultural sites.
The redevelopment has the potential to bring about many opportunities socially, economically and culturally; however, there are many places where adverse circumstances could occur as well. This plan offers plenty of opportunities for employment and housing growth. An increase in housing would relieve some of the housing shortages the Sydney area is currently experiencing, but here are many sustainability issues. In order to make the area sustainable, there must be places to work and live now, as well as in the future. It must meet the needs of existing as well as future residents, and be sensitive to the existing and future environment. The RWA has taken into consideration the social impacts and sustainability issues, but may not be able to prevent them all.
The Redfern Waterloo Authority, a division of the Sydney City Council, has to be conscientious of the historical and cultural aspects when giving some areas the facelift it is proposing.
The North Eveleigh site is an important heritage site and approximately 29% of the gross area of the historical buildings will be removed or adaptively reused, which means preserving and reusing core heritage buildings to ensure the meaning and significance of the site’s traditional railway history. The purchaser(s) of the site must preserve and interpret the sites railway heritage.
Some local residents are not completely sure how this project will pan out and have their reservations, while others are thrilled to have such a cultural and economical venue being produced. There is much excitement and apprehension with the “edgy” entertainment style that the revitalization is taking on.
An employee of CarriageWorks, Wendy, talked about one of the many issues that will plague the area:
The thing we are most worried about is the infrastructure. There isn’t enough parking. Getting 800 people in here during an event is bloody impossible. I don’t think they thought about the street infrastructure. It’s a small side-street with little access.
The site is poorly linked to the arterial road system. Forbes, Golden Grove, Shepherd, Codrington and Ivy Street all terminate at the site providing decreased accessibility from the surrounding area. However, the site is 50 metres from the Redfern Railway Station and less than one kilometre to City Road, where buses run regularly, creating other transportation options and access to the area.
The cultural section of the redevelopment will take into account the already established CarriageWorks, a new arts centre dedicated to the development and presentation of contemporary arts.
CarriageWorks is a historical landmark in the old Eveleigh Rail Yards. The distinctive 19th century industrial atmosphere of the former railway carriage and blacksmith workshops have been retained, with many heritage iron and brick details featured in the building. Many locals worry about the future of these historical landmarks with the proposed renovations and reuse.
Matt Jennings, a local resident, expressed his uncertainties about the plans:
Of course I would rather see the development go to Sydney Uni, but the Sydney City Council has some pretty nice plans as well.
Australians can voice their concerns and opinions about the importance of the preservation of this historical site by contacting the Redfern Waterloo Authority.
More North Eveleigh Photos