Leaked plans reveal building heights for White Bay Power Station development

A two-hectare waterfront park and buildings up to 22 storeys high are planned for the first stage of a prized area abutting the old White Bay power station in Sydney’s inner west,internal documents show.

The leaked draft plans,seen by theHerald,show the tallest towers proposed for the first stage of the area at Rozelle will be between 12 and 22 storeys and setback from the waterfront near the motorway ramps to the Anzac Bridge.

Internal documents show the tallest buildings in the first stage of Bays West will be near the western ramps to the Anzac Bridge.

Internal documents show the tallest buildings in the first stage of Bays West will be near the western ramps to the Anzac Bridge.Steven Siewert

The tallest building in the first stage of the 77-hectare area,known as Bays West,will be about four storeys higher than the power station’s two chimney stacks,under the draft master plan which has yet to be signed off by the government.

In what will be the most significant reshaping of a Sydney harbour-front area sinceBarangaroo,the two-hectare park planned for the first stage of Bays West will centre on the power station,which the government began a $14 million remediation of in February.

Stage one of the project will form the heart of Bays West,which will be three-and-a-half times the size of Barangaroo.

Under the draft plans,buildings erected above a new metro train station,as well as one next to the power station,will be eight storeys high. The government has not previously released details of the proposed building heights for the area.

At between 12 and 22 storeys,the tallest buildings proposed for the first stage of Bays West are significantly shorter than the apartment towers ofup to 45 storeys planned for the Sydney Fish Market site at Blackwattle Bay. The latter has drawn a strong rebuke from the City of Sydney council.

The draft master plan for stage one of Bays West,which includes an area adjoining Robert Street,is due to be released within weeks,while rezoning of the publicly owned area is scheduled to be finalised late this year.

The White Bay Power Station,which was built between 1912 and 1917,will be one of 10 sub-precincts at Bays West. The others include the Rozelle rail yards and Rozelle Bay East.

The internal documents show a key focus of planners is retaining sight lines from the power station to the Sydney CBD,Anzac Bridge and harbour-front parks in Glebe. A connection to a near10-hectare parkland to be built on the site of the old Rozelle rail yards is also deemed key.

White Bay Power Station was built between 1912 and 1917.

White Bay Power Station was built between 1912 and 1917.Steven Siewert

Architect and urban designer Philip Thalis said it was vital that the Bays West precinct was linked via a proper public space network to the wider city to avoid it becoming an enclave.

“The proposal sounds promising,but there have been decades of failed consultations and failed plans for the Bays precinct,” he said. “The thing that matters most is the structure of public space and its integration into the wider area. It is all about how they tie it into the city.”

Thalis,a former City of Sydney councillor whose firm did the first master plan for the White Bay Power Station in 1997,said other redeveloped areas such as Barangaroo and Darling Harbour fail because they were not tied into the city in “any meaningful way”.

White Bay Power Station is undergoing a $14 million remediation project.

White Bay Power Station is undergoing a $14 million remediation project.Steven Siewert

“The entire Bays precinct needs a holistic plan instead of a piecemeal approach,” he said.

Planning documents show construction of the metro train station at the Bays,which will form part of theMetro West rail line,is due to begin in the first half of 2025 and be completed by late 2027.

Internal documents obtained by theHerald have previously estimated the cost of the train station at $500 million,which includes a contingency of $100 million.

Balmain Association vice-president Ross Mackenzie said residents would welcome the restoration of the power station and the inclusion of a large park and a train station.

However,Mackenzie said it was important Bays West did not repeat Barangaroo where initial plans for buildings were superseded by taller towers such as Crown’s 271-metre skyscraper. “What was originally a good plan became a nightmare,” he said of Barangaroo.

Work at White Bay Power Station at the end of last year.

Work at White Bay Power Station at the end of last year.NSW Government

The plans for Bays West include the possible reopening to cyclists and pedestrians of thehistoric Glebe Island Bridge,which was closed to traffic when the Anzac Bridge opened in 1995.

A spokesman for Infrastructure,Cities and Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes said the draft Bays West stage one master plan had not been finalised. Members of the public would be invited to have their say on the draft plan over the coming weeks,he said.

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Matt O'Sullivan is Transport and Infrastructure Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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