Transportation Planning Casebook/Bays Precinct Transformation

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Summary[edit | edit source]

The Bays West redevelopment plan is a large-scale urban renewal project in Sydney, focusing on revitalising and transforming a portion of the city's inland harbour foreshore.[1] The initiative aims to create a vibrant, multifunctional environment for living, working, and recreation by adopting an integrated and holistic approach. This comprehensive plan covers a wide range of aspects to achieve sustainable development, ensuring balanced growth for the area that meets the needs of its residents and visitors alike. In order to enhance land use and infrastructure, the project focuses on optimising public transportation efficiency, increasing the supply of affordable housing, improving public facilities, and developing more green spaces.[2] This is expected to significantly contribute to the overall quality of life for the residents while addressing potential challenges posed by the growing population.

At the heart of the plan is the promotion of economic growth. Bays West aims to attract new businesses and innovative industries, creating employment opportunities for the local community and stimulating the regional economy. By fostering a thriving business environment, the project will generate prosperity and enhance the area's attractiveness to investors and entrepreneurs.[3] Ecological sustainability is another crucial aspect of the Bays West redevelopment plan. By protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems, the project seeks to minimise the environmental impact of urban development while promoting the efficient use of resources. This ensures that the natural beauty of the region is preserved for future generations to enjoy. Community involvement is an essential element of the project's success. The Bays West plan encourages residents to participate in urban planning, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility among the local population.[1] This collaborative approach ensures that the needs of the community are addressed and that the project enjoys widespread support. Lastly, the Bays West redevelopment plan pays close attention to cultural activities and heritage preservation. By respecting and preserving the area's historical heritage, the project seeks to integrate both new and existing architectural and cultural elements.[3] [1] This approach not only enriches the area's identity but also helps maintain a connection between the past and the present.

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

Land within Bays West is almost entirely owned by the government. Several NSW Government agencies own, manage, and use the site’s land, waterways, wharves, and infrastructure.

Stakeholders Interests, concerns and issues
Place management NSW Place Management NSW is responsible for coordinating and implementing the Bays West Strategic Place Framework, which aims to improve the quality of life, economic vitality, and cultural identity of the area [3].
Port Authority of NSW (PANSW) PANSW's involvement in the precinct includes operation of the cruise terminal and integrated port facility. On Glebe Island, they also operate a multi-user imports facility and concrete batching plant with associated berthing [3].

Bays West will retain and enhance its existing ports, maritime uses and working harbour functions as these are strategically important for Sydney.

Rail Corporation NSW Rail Corporation has landholdings within the precinct, notable the Rozelle Rail Yards. [3]
Transport for NSW (TfNSW) TfNSW owns large amounts of land within the precinct associated with Inner West Light Rail operations, the WestConnex and City West Link motorways and the Rozelle Bay Maritime Precinct [3]. As WestConnex and associated road and intersection upgrades are currently under construction, they will need to work closely with DPE to ensure plans are consistent. With maritime operations expected to be retained within the area and enhanced, TfNSW will be interested in scoping and analysing the potential that their precinct holds. Planning for the precinct is also seeking to embed low-car dependency, supporting the objectives outlined in TfNSW's Future Transport 2056.
Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) DPE is responsible for setting the planning vision for the precinct, starting with preparation of the Place Strategy all the way to the sequencing and rezoning of land [4]. DPE is required to undertake extensive consultation with other government agencies and the local community to understand their concerns and issues and amend planning documents accordingly [4].
National Trust of Australia The National Trust has regularly raised considerations around heritage and the potential that Bays West has to provide in terms of new art and cultural facilities and offerings [5]. Any future development needs to acknowledge the history of the Precinct, including the ports and working harbour and Indigenous cultural associations with the site.
Inner West Council The precinct is located within Inner West Council area. In their role representing and advocating for the local community, Council has been an active contributor to conversations with DPE and other government agencies in planning for the precinct to ensure that development is aligned with their broader strategic planning and development goals for the area.
Sydney Metro Sydney Metro operates services in North West Sydney and is currently constructing a number of metro lines across Sydney, notably the Sydney Metro West Line between Westmead and the CBD via The Bays precinct. The Bays West Strategic Place Framework identifies the need for better transport connections to the Bays Precinct to support its development, and the Sydney Metro is one of the key transport infrastructure providers that can help to achieve this [3]. Sydney Metro will work with DPE and other agencies to deliver a Metro Station that is fit for purpose.
Local Community Groups Local groups that advocate for the rights and views of the community they represent. An example is the Pyrmont Community Action Group who have provided numerous submissions to government on matters affecting Pyrmont peninsula including reopening of the Glebe Point Bridge to reconnect Pyrmont and White Bay [5].

Timeline[edit | edit source]

Time Events
1788 The surrounding lands in the Bays West region are separated and claimed for agricultural and other estate-related purposes after Europeans colonised Australia.[6]
1860 With the addition of more toxic industries such as boil factories, candle manufacturers, and tanneries, the area's proximity to the sea continues to draw timber dealers and boat builders.[6]
1891 Balmain becames the first local section of the Labour Electoral League, strengthening the area's strong ties to political action and working-class rights.[6]
1892 The introduction of streetcars hastens the growth of surrounding neighbourhoods while driving out toxic or polluting enterprises.[6]
1915 Glebe Island is contracted by the Sydney Harbour Trust (later known as the Marine Services Commission) to extend the region and provide substantial berthing and handling capacity to support marine traffic.[6]
1916 The Rozelle Marshalling Yards are formed by the incision and reclamation of the Whites Creek estuary.[6]
1917 With the opening of Glebe Island and Pyrmont bridges, White Bay Power Station is built to supply electricity to the city's tram and rail networks. White Bay's first state-owned port opens for business at this time as well.[6]
1922 The Catherine Street Bridge is constructed, and a second rail line connecting Glebe and Pyrmont with Darling Harbour is added to the Goods Line network.[6]
1925 63 granaries are gradually constructed in the precinct, with the first one on Glebe Island constructed between 1917 and 1921.[6]
1928 The White Bay Power Station's second phase of construction is completed. Soon after, White Bay's Piers 2 and 3 are constructed to handle specialised bulk chemical cargoes.[6]
1930 Over the course of nearly 20 years, Victoria Road is widened, which requires the purchase and destruction of a portion of the neighbourhood.[6]
1950s Facilities for processing and exporting coal are developed at White Bay as part of the gradual modernisation of the White Bay Power Station.[6]
1956 The New South Wales Electricity Commission acquires ownership of the White Bay Power Station, and two years later the modernisation is complete.[6]
1983 White Bay Power Station is shut down.[6]
1984 Grain is no longer stored in the silos on Glebe Island.[6]
1988 Unilever relocates from Balmain.[6]
1995 Glebe Island Bridge is closed and replaced by the Anzac Bridge.[6]
1996 The Inner West Light Rail line is opened between Sydney CBD and Lewisham, utilising the old goods line.[6]
1999 The White Bay power Station is placed on the NSW Heritage Register.[4]
2000 Glebe Island and White Bay Master Plan is adopted.[4]
2004 The White Bay Power Station Conservation Management Plan was finalized.[6]
2013 The Bays Precinct Taskforce issues the Bays Precinct Strategic Framework Report, which includes Strategic Planning Principles, Land Recommendations and Key Findings.[7]
2014 The International Summit of Bays Precinct is held.[7]
2015 The Transformation Plan is released outlining plans to create The Bays Precinct as a destination. It would assist the region become more competitive globally and benefits both present and future residents as well as the state as a whole.[6]
2016 Plans for Sydney Metro West Including 'The Bays' Station are announced.[6]
2017 Google retracts plan to build an innovation hub at White Bay.[8]
2021 Bays West Place Strategy finalised.[1]
2022 Bays West Stage 1 Master Plan and Rezoning Package are finalised. [1]

Maps[edit | edit source]

Bays West Precinct Map [4]
Bays West Structure Plan [4]
Bays West Precinct Issues Map [4]
Bays West Stage 1 Proposed Transport Connections [3]

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Public Transport Integration

The Bays West precinct is centred around a new Metro Station that will be constructed as part of the Sydney Metro West project. Community concerns have been raised that not enough planning and attention has been given to other modes of transport that surround the precinct, namely bus and light rail services.

Numerous bus services currently traverse the western edge of the precinct, but access to these services is limited due to a lack of pedestrian crossings at signalised intersections and frequent grade changes that result in circuitous walking routes [9]. Submissions to the precinct have called for the expansion of existing services to serve the precinct better, improvements to walkability and better integration of bus and metro services through a proper and well placed interchange. Alternative arguments for proposed bus changes have raised concerns that rerouting of services will reduce direct buses to the city and add extra travel time for those travelling through the area [5].

The Inner West Light rail line travels from the city to Dulwich Hill and has a stop called Rozelle Bay that is close to the precinct. Although the stop is only 600m away, the current walking route is five times that distance due to convoluted walking access caused by the City Westlink motorway [9]. A landbridge is proposed to be constructed over the motorway to provide a direct active transport link between the Rozelle Bay light rail stop and future residents and the Metro station [9].

Active Transport Links

In connection to the above challenges caused by the City Westlink Motorway, there are also existing access challenges for the two main bus stops either side of Victoria Road near the White Bay Power Station. In the City of Sydney’s submission to the precinct, they called for a pedestrian and cyclist bridge be constructed from the new precinct to these stops. Further, Council also raised that there is a lack of secure bicycle parking facilities for the planned bus and metro interchange and that this piece of infrastructure is essential for the planned promotion of greater active transport use in the precinct [5].

There have been calls to re-open the Glebe Island Bridge, which was the original road connection between Glebe and Rozelle before the ANZAC bridge was opened [10]. This connection would be used as an active transport link and would be more conducive to active modes than the bridge that replaced it. Challenges with this proposal have be raised including that the bridge will need extensive upgrades and that existing boating and kayaking access to Blackwattle Bay would be restricted by the bridge switching from its current ‘open’ position to a ‘closed’ position [10]. Proponents for the reopening of the bridge have been calling for a decision to be made by government and insisting that it should be brought forward to earlier stages of the project than currently forecasted [5].


There exists within the precinct multiple important heritage assets, such as the White Bay Power Station and the Glebe Island Wheat Silos. In 2020, potential plans to demolish the Power Station to increase the dwelling potential of the precinct were floated by the then Premier, but this approach was scrapped soon after as a result of community and political opposition [11]. At this stage, panning documents acknowledge the importance of retaining the precinct’s heritage fabric and realising the potential it represents [9]. But despite these assurances, there remains community concern that the height and bulk of new buildings will overshadow and block views of the the heritage items and that they will not respect the character or scale of existing buildings [11].

Road connectivity

The plans for the first stage of Bays West show only one road in and out of the precinct. Accompanying planning documentation outlines that this decision is intentional as planning for movement around the precinct has focussed and centred around the metro and active transport modes. These will be prioritised over cars and vehicular transport, with exception of buses, to create a more walkable and healthy environment. Local community submissions have raised potential issues with this approach, especially warning of traffic congestion for the singular intersection and road which leads to the metro station and the flow on effects this would have on surrounding roads and areas [5]. Furthermore, the surrounding suburban area in Rozelle is still very car centric and so submitters outline that traffic planning for the precinct should better consider surrounding areas. To assume adjacent car-centric areas will quickly adapt once the precinct is complete is potentially shortsighted [5].

Cruise Terminal Operations

It is planned that the White Bay Cruise Terminal, in the northern portion of Bays West, will continue to operate as a permanent component of the precinct [4]. The terminal and associated operations have the potential to cause land use conflicts with residential areas as a result of noise, air pollution from ships, blocking vistas and viewpoints and additional traffic that would occur in high volumes at specific times [5].

Delivering the project

White Bay and surrounds have had multiple plans over the decades including a highly publicised deal with Google to build an innovation hub that never eventuated [11]. The complexities of the precinct are likely the culprit for delays in revitalising it; this exposes an important question, will government be able to bring together all of the necessary agencies and actors outlined above to ensure they are on the same page and can collectively deliver the precinct in a timely and orderly fashion? In the face of confounding issues and conflicting views on how the precinct should be planned, compounded with broad criticisms for the similar Barangaroo precinct, Bays West is likely to be challenging for the state government to get right.

Narrative[edit | edit source]

The Case for Change

As the industrial nature of Bays West has evolved over time, the people and activities in and around the site were progressively excluded; now that economic conditions have reduced the importance of Bays West as an industrial area and port, the area’s life and vitality is notably missing [4]. The plans for Bays West seek to create a vibrant and connected precinct that respects its cultural heritage and capitalises on its location close to the CBD [4].

Sydney Metro Station

The process for choosing station locations for the Sydney Metro West project was a complex balancing act between travel time savings and servicing as many communities as possible [12]. In the end nine stations were approved including a station servicing The Bays [12]. The decision to include The Bays over other alternatives was based on the potential the precinct holds to house large numbers of new residents and create many new jobs, notably within knowledge intensive industries [12]. Further, a connection with the existing Inner West Light Rail Line, the multiple bus lines that traverse the area and the potential to serve tourists at the White Bay Cruise Terminal were also deciding factors [12].

Revitalising industrial waterfronts

The concept of transforming previously industrial waterfront land into new high rise neighbourhoods is commonplace throughout the world [3]. Specific case studies were analysed as part of planning for the precinct including the Coal Drop Yards in London and The Naval Yard in Philadelphia [3]. There are common elements among all of the examples, namely the existence of a number of heritage items pertaining to previous industrial uses, the location close to the city centre and provision of high frequency public transport to service them [3].

Knowledge Hub

There are plans for Bays West to become a hub for knowledge intensive jobs and industries as part of development of a ‘knowledge corridor’ spanning from the Central Station precinct to Bays West and beyond to Parramatta and Westmead along the Sydney Metro West Line [4]. Bays West is also in the northern corner of the Sydney ‘Tech Central’ precinct which includes The University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and Sydney Airport [13]. The Tech Central program involves government-funded access to affordable office space for startups and support for greater STEM university placements [13]. Within the Bays, the continuation of port and maritime uses has been raised as a unique opportunity for Bays West to become specialised in these uses [4].

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  1. Transportation planning for the precinct is focussing mostly on active and public transport modes rather than cars (example being the single road in and out of the precinct) is this approach sensical or naïve?
  2. The precinct will retain the White Bay Cruise Terminal which could affect future residents. When it comes to the transportation of tourists, are their temporary needs more important than the permanent needs of residents?
  3. There have been multiple plans for Bays West over the decades. The construction of a Metro station appears to be the missing piece that secured the precinct. Should it be a requirement that major renewal precincts are always supported by high frequency transport?
  4. Bays West Precinct and Sydney Metro West are examples of megaprojects, which are becoming larger, pricier and more complex as they become commonplace in NSW. Should NSW shift back towards smaller decentralised projects or are megaprojects the way of the future?
  5. Large revitalisation projects can attract a lot of negative reactions from the local community. Do large projects such as these get too harshly or unfairly treated or is this a natural part of change that yields better outcomes?

Additional Readings[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b c d e NSW Department of Planning and Environment. "Bays West". Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  2. Gorrey, Megan (2022-06-12). "Inner west residents fear towers will dwarf White Bay Power Station". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k NSW Department of Planning and Environment (2022). "Bays West Stage 1 Draft Master Plan and Urban Design Framework" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-04-23.
  4. a b c d e f g h i j k l NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (2021). "Bays West Place Strategy" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  5. a b c d e f g h NSW Department of Planning and Environment (2022). "Engagement Outcomes Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  6. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (2021). "Bays West Strategic Place Framework" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-04-22.
  7. a b Inner West Council. "Bays Precinct - Inner West Council". Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  8. Gerathy, Sarah (2017-04-12). "Google backs out of plan to base itself at Sydney's White Bay". ABC News. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  9. a b c d NSW Department of Planning and Environment (2022). "Transport Management and Accessibility Plan" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-04-24.
  10. a b Gorrey, Megan (2022-12-31). "Development plans increase pressure on government to reopen Glebe Island Bridge". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2023-04-25.
  11. a b c Fitzsimmons, Caitlin (2021-01-10). "'Where thought bubbles go to die': White Bay's long history of failed ideas". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2023-04-23.
  12. a b c d Sydney Metro (2019). "Scoping Report: Westmead to The Bays and Sydney CBD". Retrieved 2023-04-25.
  13. a b Treasury NSW (2020). "Tech Central" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-04-26.