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In Haymarket NSW on “Demolition of the existing...” at 410 Pitt Street Haymarket NSW 2000:

Sue Ostler commented

The following is a response to the amended DA, made public on Jan 4, 2016.

Trouble in Chinatown
Today’s newspaper headlines are full of the news that Belmore Park otherwise known as Tent City opposite Central Station is out of control. Those who have set up camp show no sign of moving. Security guards are now allegedly deployed to man the area 24-hours a day to deal with the violence, alcohol and drugs in this homeless enclave.
This is exactly one block away from where we live at the Miramar Apartments on the southern end of Pitt Street, between Goulburn and Campbell, a block which has an ugly history of its own.

Overrun with backpackers and young party people who frequently clash with the transient and homeless who gravitate towards our block and lump together outside the West End backpackers’ hostel, attracted by the wafting fragrance of marijuana and the free flowing alcohol, openly using our driveway and mailboxes as toilets and inciting anti-social behaviour. This all happening in the very same location where a scene of horrific violence erupted during a triple stabbing two years ago. But regardless of countless complaints and letters to the council (including written submissions by myself), no effort has been made to turn the area into an ‘Alcohol Free Zone’.

In spite of this out-of-control scene, plans are afoot for a 33-storey super skinny Shanghai style skyscraper budget hotel to be sandwiched as tight as the proverbial in between the original residential buildings and the infamous West End hostel. With a mind-bogglingly narrow 6.4m frontage and capacity of 180 rooms and up to four to five hundred occupants, the extra volume of people will put a massive burden on this pressure-cooker situation - especially when those four to five hundred people are likely to be backpackers – more backpackers! Developer Dean Rzechta, managing director of Ninety Four Feet, said himself in a recent interview that the budget hotel “is to be aimed at younger travellers.”

We have to ask ourselves why?

it simply because a Melbourne development company saw an opportunity to make a few bucks when they ran out of sites in Melbourne?

mean come on! The erection of random sky-high pencil thin building such as this shows a complete lack of regard for its neighbouring occupants. With a devastating loss of amenity: privacy, ventilation, air, sunlight - and of course outlook for the neighbouring buildings - this is a situation reminiscent of the vastly overcrowded cities of Beijing, Macau or Hong Kong - not our own precious downtown Sydney!
Imagine the noise pollution and loss of air, light, ventilation, daylight, privacy and outlook based on inadequate space between buildings - and that’s just at sky level! At street level things will be total madness.

Did I mention that the proposed tower provides absolutely no onsite car parking? Do you have any idea what this will do to our streetscape? In a densely overbuilt area known for its budget accommodation where none of the existing backpackers offer parking, it’s sheer madness. Added to the existing traffic congestion in an already overextended block of Pitt Street and what you get is a real bottleneck situation (keep in mind that Pitt Street is nothing like its neighbouring George Street with its broad three lanes. It's one single lane up and one single lane down up until it hits Goulburn Street, and then it’s one way from there all the way to the Pitt Street Mall). And let’s not forget the recent diversion of every George Street bus route which have doubled the traffic flow on Pitt Street – all of this and we’re talking about a street that is not much wider than a city laneway!

Picture the traffic congestion made by coaches, taxis and service vehicles all converging together to result in chaos alongside an already inadequate area for servicing and waste management utilities. Throw in the congested pedestrian traffic with all manner of transport vehicles and bicycles parked along the kerb-side while visitors come to and from the hotel, waiting for the airport shuttle, their luggage left strewn across the pavement as they straggle across the driveway of the Miramar, blocking primary access and exit points for the residents’ vehicles - and what you get is a very ugly picture.

And while we appreciate that the current situation at 410 Pitt Street is not a desirable one, we do not wish to substitute one bad situation with a far worse one!
When the developers initially proposed a 3-star hotel development, residents and neighbours were stunned and took action. An objection was promptly lodged to council and an appeal to the Land and Environments Court was the response.

The DA has since come back with a vengeance with only a couple of token amendments: it has lopped a couple of floors off the top and plans to be a mere two storeys shorter with a nod to greater sunlight. Bravo. It has also apparently addressed rehousing for the otherwise homeless men residing in the Cosy Private Hotel which will be promptly demolished should the DA go ahead. That however, remains to be seen! Perhaps the evicted men will end up sleeping in our driveway, overlooked and undetected in-between all the pandemonium. Either way, none of this is any comfort to those hundreds of Miramar residents whose south facing windows will become walls - completely blacked out by a towering chunk of concrete.

for us our home-in-the-sky sits right alongside the proposed building site. Our principal living-room and third bedroom windows are south facing, as is our open balcony. According to diagrams, the proposed development will be within approx. 1.5 metres of our balcony, almost within arm’s reach of our main social and recreation area! And what of the hotel’s rooftop our family wonders - will it be an all-night party rooftop, going off right outside our balcony? Or even more foreboding, will it be a plant service area with vast visual bulk and great noise pollution generated from machinery, service utilities, air conditioning plants and more, forcing us to live with closed windows and darkness to escape the noise and air pollution?

Whatever it will be, the alarming fact is that I could reach out with my son’s pogo stick and touch it.

It’s funny too, because it’s not often that a city skyscraper is built with a family and kids in mind. We usually hear about homes-in-the-sky with sprawling master suites for adults. Yet three generations of the Lee family have lived happily on the 37th floor at the Miramar Apartments in Sydney’s Pitt Street over the past twenty years. Now, together with a seventeen-month old toddler, property developers threaten to drive our family away.

A very distressing thought.

Our home is our sanctuary, and with that comes security and community. Who says you can’t have community whilst living in the CBD? If you’ve ever lived in Chinatown you would know that for the most part, it’s a haven of friendliness. A buzzing, bustling mecca where concierge, cleaners, receptions, real-estate agents and building managers sing out sunny greetings each time they pass by, and neighbours stop to say hello and offer a hand with shopping bags and prams. Lush, vibrant gardens thrive happily in the challenged conditions of the uppermost sky-high floors and there’s plenty of smiles between locals and shop-keepers, suppliers and servicemen - especially if you have a baby in tow as this writer does.

But if you had of asked me during the pregnancy how we would go living in the sky with a bub, I just couldn't get my head around it.

How could I?

I had grown up with the quintessential backyard teeming with dogs, cats, mini- bikes, over-the-fence paddocks and even a pony. Surely this was the Great Australian dream.
How could our son grow up without experiencing this?

Seventeen months later and our little boy bounds up and down our long, narrow balcony with quivering excitement, pointing skywards as the overhead airplanes and great flocks of birds glide by. It’s not the leafy green suburbs and there’s no big backyard, but somehow those luminescent sunsets and sunrises and all the drama that comes with the technicolour storms rolling in - and the occasional rainbow-coloured lorikeet perching on the open balcony - make up for that. This is nature from a very different and enviable perspective!

But all of this could be a distant memory if developers get their way.

And the question to ask is why?

It is simply a gross overdevelopment of an unsuitable site seized on by opportunistic developers with consequent unsustainable impacts on the surrounding buildings.
Surely it is the role of the City of Sydney council to protect its residents from this unsustainable way of life; to promote the ventilation of Central Sydney by allowing the free movement of air flowing freely around city by ensuring that adequate space, air and efficient servicing are part of any new development proposal.
Surely it is the role of The City to protect residents from the kind of savagery that currently presides over Belmore Park.

Surely it is their role to keep their residents safe!

Hundreds of the residents as well as all the Sydney-siders who love our city and wish to preserve its good image have signed our petition and are joining together to support the council in fighting the amended DA. But it’s not just about our lives - the issue of gross overdevelopment without a second thought for residents and ratepayers affects everybody who passes by the southern end of Pitt Street.

If we don’t jump on it, the Belmore Park syndrome will blowout further down along Pitt Street and end up right on our doorstep. Before-long the thoroughfare from Central Station and down along Pitt Street could become a strip with a dangerous reputation to be avoided at all costs; a situation which will impact on retailers, shopkeepers and service industries - all because of one developer’s greed.

We urge you to join in the fight to save our great city - don’t let the southern end of Pitt Street become an ugly extension of Belmore Park and don’t let big time developers' ride into Sydney and show us how they think it should be done. Because as non-residents, maybe they don’t really know.Or give a damn.

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