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Sydney historical site to get facelift

This contribution has been submitted to Webdiary by a student in the Online Journalism unit for the Masters in Media Practice and Masters in Publishing courses at The University of Sydney as part of the unit's assessment. The topics covered in the pieces awaiting publication are interesting – and diverse. We hope that Webdiarists will enjoy reading them, as well as giving these aspiring journalists plenty of constructive commentary.


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.

Potential Growth

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.

Cultural Aspects

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


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Interesting topic Heidi!

Interesting topic Heidi! I too am working on a project about the development of the Eveleigh Railyards and what else can be done with the land. It seems some people are intent on making the area, and surrounding suburbs, into yet another yuppie suburb. While I agree Sydney has a housing shortage, this is not the motive behind developing an area into yet another apartment block.

While working on a project with the Aboriginal Housing Company I delved into the history of the Eveleigh area. It is has a fascinatingly rich heritage which could bring wealth and visitors to the area through tourism. It seems some people are just out to make the quick buck and think nothing of destroying years of heritage. Sydney is a beautiful city and Sydney-siders should strive to maintain the unique nature of the city.

Interesting article Heidi. A few pointers for next time...I would have loved to hear a few more perspectives from local residents to see how much people know about the area. Geoff Turnbull is a great source for this topic too. Good hyperlinks though!


As I don't know Sydney at all, Heidi, I can make no comment on the planned redevelopment of the Redfern area. It certainly is an historic part of Sydney and was a lot more up market in the past - though some of the descriptions of it leave nothing to the imagination as to the conditions under which people first lived in that area in the 1840s.

It is always difficult knowing what to preserve of the old buildings, many of which require expensive repair and maintenance and there is not much money available to spend on heritage buildings these days. The grants are spread very thinly.

When I drive around the back streets of old Goulburn, the first inland city, I see an enormous range and many very fine examples of housing architecture covering the past 160 or so years in that town. Anyone wanting to do a history of architectural styles in NSW could do worse that start looking around those backstreets. It is good to see so many buildings preserved.

I also am amazed at just how much Australian historical material of national importance is held in many little museums in the smaller country towns - Tenterfield museum for example, usually manned by elderly volunteers who could almost take their place as exhibits. Those old folk in country museums are such a store of local history, much of it lost when they pass on.

I hope they get the balance right in Redfern. One thing can be sure - many of these modern buildings will be long gone while some of the old ones will still be standing beyond the end of this century - if not knocked down by greedy and short sighted developers and councils.

Redfern Waterloo Authority not part of City of Sydney

The above article says that the Redfern Waterloo Authority, a division of the Sydney City Council,This is incorrect. The NSW Government decided in 2004 not to implement the plans for their redevelopment of Redfern Waterloo through the local council and set up an Authority with its own Act of Parliament. The NSW Government then specifically removed the surplus railway lands at North Eveleigh and some surrounding private lands opposite Redfern Station (including Redfern's Block) from the control of the City of Sydney by declaring it State Significant (ie too important to be handled by Council).

Lord mayor Clover Moore has been an active critic of many of the RWA's Plans and most recently has come out against the RWA's plans for North Eveleigh. Council's submissions on the RWA plans raised a number of important questions. Council also held a Public Meeting to publicise the Sydney Uni Plans for North Eveleigh which they see as providing a better alternative for the surrounding community.

You can find out more about these issues on the REDWatch website. REDWatch is the local residents watch group. REDWatch is not associated with any political party and has members belonging to all major political parties.

The material on North Eveleigh can be found at www.redwatch.org.au/RWA/statesignificant/northeveleigh/nemp

The material about Sydney Uni's 2020 Masterplan can be found here.

You can subscribe to email updates on the REDWatch website or you can get the most recent information here.

Geoff Turnbull



email: mail@redwatch.org.au


Geoff, thank you for the clarification. I am not native to the Sydney area. I moved here about three months ago and became interested in this story only a few weeks ago. I am sorry for the misstatement; I meant nothing by it and I am glad to know the distinctions.

"there are many places where

"there are many places where adverse circumstances could occur as well" - what are they? What does it mean?

Interesting article. it would benefit immensely from an historical analysis of the development of the site (I assume that could be done by weblinks to maps, DPs etc).

It is also not clear what the author mans by "proximity" to Redfern railway station. If anyone knows the area, they are isolated precincts. Possible avenue (forgive the pun) for a follow-up piece.

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