Save Our Sydney

Save Our Sydney

                 campaigns by the Embassy since 1978 on urban heritage
             Details - SOS @ UPE PO Box A360 Sydney South 2000



On 24 February 2004 Leichhardt Council voted to allow the Chamber of Commerce to again use historic sacred site, Pioneers Memorial Rest Park - as par of its Norton St Festus. The Embassy's President and other community representatives spoke against the proposal that will allow bungee jumping and a jumping castle and other fete type activities to be run in Pioneer Park. Our President likened it to putting such jumping attractions at Galipoli.

We are meeting with the people who got an article on the issue into the Sydney  Morning Herald on the day before. As park users (annual Poetry Picnic as part of Embassy's 6 year old Alternative Arts Festival) the Embassy is dismayed that it has never been consulted on such use of the park. We will be meeting with the other activists on the issue to help mount a campaign on this and other public park issues.  






On 8 August 2002, a public meeting was held in Redfern Town hall - that included a presentation on improvements to Centennial Park. Our representative made some comments - which were reproduced on this website as follows below. This was embellished on this webpage - but actually some of it was tongue in cheek to stir up reaction - which we got from both Clover Moore MP and ROAR (a local residents group) in writing. 

Our representative pointed out that that regional park was hard to get to, due to the lack of proper public transport links - particularly having no dedicated light rail connection. Such a connection could allow people to get on a tram from Redfern and Central stations and go straight to Centennial Park - not to mention an extension to the Uni of NSW at Kensington and beyond to Maroubra along Anzac Parade - which still has the centre part of it available to a light rail track.

Our representative was mainly making the point that Redfern itself lacked a good local park and Redfern Park should be expanded to its original size by moving the poorly maintained Redfern football oval over adjoining Elizabeth Rd - to the block of old Dept of Housing blocks of flats - proposed to be demolished. He pointed out that those blocks of flats were to be demolished mainly to allow the building of housing for the rich. He added that we would like to see the marginally denser new blocks of flats for public housing, be left in the plan. Currently there is some real conflict between proponents for trying to expand the current shoebox size Redfern Park - by pushing for some public use of the actual "village green" area of Redfern Oval.

On the other hand, the victorious South Sydney Rabittohs (football club) want to return to Redfern after using the huge Aussie Stadium for games for some time. Naturally they would want a decent stadium to return to. However the increasing population of Redfern area - moving into gated "communities" of cramped blocks of flats and done up old terraces - plus everyone else in public housing flats - would like a decent size garden-layout park to relax in again. Meanwhile the NSW Dept of Housing is trying to push though the selling off of a bigger than Redfern Park/Oval area of two and three storey blocks of public housing across the Elizabeth St side of Redfern Park/"Oval".

This disgraceful sellout of public land for State Govt profit - (so a private developer) must be converted to a redevelopment of both Govt owned sites to allow a restoration of historic Redfern Park and reconstruction of a decent multipurpose sports facilities - featuring a Public Swimming Pool.  This is a major project that we will be promoting in order to find which politicians will back it. Below you can see a reply from the then Mayor of Sydney City Council - about our earlier campaign to have the decrepid  piblic swimming pool removed from Alfred Park (south of Central Station) in order that reclaim that land for more parkland (perhaps featuring the type of garden/lake feature that Victoria Park (South Sydney Council area) now has.   

First of all though, the NSW Labor Govt and South Sydney Council need to immediately halt the current development application push by the NSW Dept of Housing to allow private housing redevelopment of the site where the replacement Public Swimming Pool should go. We need help from new members and others to help us conduct this campaign to SAVE THE SOUL OF REDFERN FROM GROSS SELFISH OVERDEVELOPMENT. 

NB. OUR  POSITION IS THAT THE RABBITOHS OVAL SHOULD BE MOVED TO AN INDUSTRIAL AREA eg the old incinerator site at Green Square AND THE DEPT OF HOUSING AREA BE REDEVELOPED  -BUT ONLY FOR WELL DESIGNED - SLIGHTLY MORE DENSE PUBLIC HOUSING. Public recreational facilities should be added NOT privately developed terrace housing for the rich.  




HISTORY IN THE MAKING; from the SOS archives




South Sydney Council has now successfully stopped boundary changes the Carr Labor Government was trying to force on the people around the City of Sydney. This victory was won through a challenge mounted by the Council in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

At no time did our organisation accept the supposed inevitability of the Government's unfair decision - which involved no consultation with the many residents to be affected. Might is not right - and those developers with something to gain from the City Council grabbing parts of neighbouring Councils - for once do not seem to be getting their way at the expense of the majority of residents.  

There may well be good reasons for some amalgamations or at least greater co-operation - between Councils in the inner Sydney area. Instead all we are being offered are more seemingly ad hoc boundary changes  that only serve to enrich the Sydney City Council - at the expense of  neighbouring South Sydney and Leichhardt Councils.  Of course this is not the first time the major political parties have shifted boundaries to advantage their interests. The incorporation of South Sydney Council into the City Council is the most recent example. Indeed, not so long ago administrators (known as the three wise monkeys) were sent in to run the City Council for awhile. 

It is clear that big developers will benefit from  Sydney City Council including the richer parts of Sydney City Council (eg Darlinghurst and Potts Point) and from Leichhardt Council (Glebe and Forest Lodge - including Sydney University) - but what is the advantage to (existing) residents?  It is likely that business voters from the dreaded (heritage poor overdeveloped) CBD will benefit most as more Meriton apartment blocks are put up (the latest demolishing most of the historic YMCA building in Bathurst St near Town Hall). 

At present Glebe residents are trying to stop four storey (plus "underground" car park levels) going in on the foreshore Fletchers site at the end of Forsythe St. Residents prefer a park on the entire site fronting Blackwattle Bay. Leichhardt Council may well argue that residents should accept the present development proposal - with a small foreshore access "park" now - or cop residential towers when  the ALP backed Sartor  CBD Sydney City) Council juggernaut takes over all of Glebe. the ALP of course is livid that it no longer has a Mayor in any of the three Councils - which it feels it owns. Residents may remember just how arrogant the ALP got when it did have Mayors continuously in inner city Councils.

The only Labor Mayor left in the area - Barry Cotter (Marrickville Council) has recently put his dibs in to claim all of Newtown for his Council. He once admitted to us that he was amazed at how well Newtown had gone (ie the King St Shopping strip) though the Council had done nothing to help it. Hoping for another free ride huh Barry? Meanwhile, residents are getting no opportunity for feedback into how they would like to be represented in local government. All the decisions are being made in the  backrooms of  the major political parties - as usual. All Sartor is promising is that community posters will disappear (as has happened in the CDB) and homeless people will also disappear. 

Certainly the NSW Labor Government is not assuring that rich developers like Meriton include housing for them in their yuppie apartments. (refer to their broken promises in the regard on the Resches site near Moore Park) We are writing to the NSW Government to oppose the proposed boundary changes - with copies to the Councils affected. This letter will appear below - with any reply forthcoming. 

PS A later editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald of 13 April - titled ""reform more than linees on a map" - basically supported the same argument as presented above. For instance it says that if "redrawing council boundaries is to qualify as reform ... it must benefit a clear majority of the ratepayers affected", adding that on this basis the report by the Boundary Commission on enlarging the City of Sydney is "not convincing". 


An urgent Council meeting was called on 11 March (2002) to be held at historic 
Glebe Town Hall to decide on holding a poll of Glebe and Forest Lodge residents
as to whether they want their area to be taken from Leichhardt Council area and included in Sydney City Council. The NSW Government has refused to conduct such a poll - though it is proposing such a boundary change - despite the findings to the contrary of its own Sprouts inquiry into Council amalgamations.

Apart from the proposer of the special Council meeting, Councillor Hall Greenland, only one citizen got to talk to the motion - before the meeting was aborted due to one (ALP) councillor not turning up (thus denying a quorum -ie not enough councillors being present to allow a vote to be taken). That speaker was the President of the Unemployed Peoples Embassy who said the following (as recalled in contemporan-
eous notes:

" I used to be a resident of Glebe. My interest is in the heritage and that I represent a jobless group that has received support from the Council to do some of its projects.
I live in the South Sydney Council area and I went to a so-called consultation run by Sydney City Council about the use of Alfred Park. It was dominated by businessmen in suits who wanted to put in car park with a cafe and so on - a monstrosity.  

I want to ask a question. If Glebe and so on are brought in to Sydney City Council - what percentage of voters will residents be to businesses that can vote? Will the business vote dominate? I'm saying that Glebe should have this vote about boundary changes - because it may be the last chance you have to say about anything. (Wild applause from audience that was then gagged by the meeting being closed).   


PRINCE ALFRED PARK  green gateway

The Embassy has written to Sydney Council's Mayor Frank Sartor about Council's proposals to redevelop Alfred Park - which is located at the southern end of Central Station. He replied to our concerns about car parking replacing the decrepid swimming pool and fenced surrounds that occupy a good half of the park. We propose that the pool be replaced with a lake type water feature as exists in Victoria Park (next to Sydney University). That park has recently been enhanced by gardens surrounding the enlarged Lake Northam.

We will add photos and plans to this page as we produce them. South Sydney Mayor John Fowler has also proposed that Alfred Park be developed along the lines of Victoria Park (which is in his council area). We will be sending him our Sartor letter and his reply. Our letter to Mayor Sartor follows (with slight clarifications in brackets plus highlighting) with reply after:


                   PEOPLES  EMBASSY
                                        Mail: PO Box A360 Sydney South 2000
                                                      Ph: (02) 95573799

Mayor Cr Frank Sartor,                                              4 June 2001 (or 2000?)
Sydney City Council

                                  Re; Redevelopment of Prince Alfred Park

Dear Mayor,

As you know, we have long campaigned for preservation of the character of Sydney under our Save Our Sydney banner.  We are now alarmed to hear that you intend to construct a carpark to replace the swimming pool in Prince Alfred Park. When the (South Sydney) Council replaced the Bowling Club in Victoria Park (partly) with a carpark - it came with the expansion of Lake Northam, including a pedestrian bridge and some fine flower bed landscaping.

Alfred Park is an obvious counterpoint to Victoria Park since, apart from their names, they both form a gateway to the City. However, Alfred Park is next to Sydney's major station, Central, and doesn't have the excuse of Victoria park of needing some offstreet parking, given that no parking is possible around it - and is not next to a railway station. what is really needed is a similar treatment of Alfred Park to that of Victoria Park.

Alfred Park is increasingly being surrounded by higher density housing - which have no private garden space , besides balconies and overshadowed common courtyards. A water feature like Lake Northam plus landscaping tree plantings and flowerbeds - should replace the pool - if it is to be demolished. There should be NO carpark built in the park - nor any underground pool- as was installed under Phillip and Cook Park, which spews out dense Chlorine smells (and) is topped with ugly dark tiling.

Instead, Alfred Park should become a sort of mini Central Park -connecting Central station - at the edge of the so-called CBD, to the residential area of South Sydney. A sort of buffer that can be enjoyed by local residents and visitors to the City - particularly giving a lift to the restaurants and pubs around the adjacent Devonshire Street.

                                               yours faithfully






CIRCULAR QUAY  - fight to save historic precinct
History of  our organisation's long time campaign to try and save the character of Circular quay and our current campaign involving West Circular Quay (where the Rocks are situated).

TRAMS - which way should they go in the City
More on our campaign to have trams reintroduced to the city of Sydney - but along Sussex St from the Haymarket turnoff of the current line - continuing along Hickson Rd to the Walsh Bat wharves and back through the rocks - which should have through car traffic greatly restricted.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED - in our campaigns
See our How To Join and Support to get connected with our organisation.