Potts Point locals are fiercely loyal about their suburb and proposed plans to upgrade Macleay Street have divided the precinct.
Love it or hate it, we look at what’s proposed.
What Clover Moore is proposing
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s plan to improve Potts Point’s streetscape is aimed at making the area safer for pedestrians, to help ‘calm’ traffic and improve the area’s look and feel with more trees and plants. She wants a village-like atmosphere that will create ‘a sense of belonging’ and make the street safer for visitors, plus bring more business to the area.
The plans are largely centred around upgrades to Macleay Street between Challis Avenue and Orwell Street. They include new garden beds, street furniture and lighting, 20 bicycle racks and 7 racks on smartpoles, and a raised intersection at Greenknowe Avenue and Macleay Street.
It will also include creating a wider cement footpath and flag poles.
Three community meetings took place last year. As part of the consultation, Council received 5,282 letters, 216 survey responses, 37 email submissions and had 98 face to face contacts with businesses on Macleay Street.
The verdict from council
The majority of people consulted by Council supported the plans. The survey results showed 38% ‘strongly supported’ and 33% ‘somewhat supported’ the plans.
As a result, the Macleay Street works were voted in decisively by nine of the 10 Sydney City Councillors.
Many people supported the plans, and the Macleay Street works were voted in decisively by nine of the 10 Sydney City Councillors.
One of the Councillors who voted for the plans was Dr Kerryn Phelps – who is a passionate local. However, in written submissions to her own council, Dr Phelps did express some concerns, and talked about how the scheme would result in the loss of parking spaces on Macleay Street which would adversely affect local businesses and residents, and that the community needed ‘to know where the City intended to relocate this parking’.
She also argued that residents of Potts Point would ‘strongly oppose’ a shared path scenario on the footpath due to it being such a high foot traffic area.
Christine Forster was the one councillor who voted against the scheme, believing that the council should have waited for local businesses to recover following the crippling events of Covid-19 on retail and hospitality.
So, if it’s going ahead, what are people worried about?
The Potts Point Partnership is one group looking forward to the street upgrade.
“Once complete, the streetscape will be amongst the best in the world for encouraging tourism, outdoor living, shopping, outdoor dining, an increased cosmopolitan atmosphere and better safety for our residents, visitors and people living with disabilities,” says Carrington Brigham, Executive Chair of the Potts Point Partnership.
Although it’s been voted in, there are many who remain unhappy with the decision. Some residents and business owners oppose the scheme, believing it’s being carried out just to chase the tourist dollar. There are also fears it will homogenise the area, while eroding Potts Point’s ‘distinctive’ and ‘edgy’ character. Locals have been particularly vocal about this.
Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage and Residents’ Society president Andrew Woodhouse told The Daily Telegraph that he felt the timing was wrong, the plans should be re-designed and that the latest plans hadn’t taken feedback from three community meetings into account. He also published an opinion piece in CityHub.
At a recent council meeting, around 150 locals expressed concern about the scheme and how it might affect the already reduced foot traffic in the area on the back of lockout laws and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Shop-owners also worry that disruptive, ongoing construction works outside their premises could stop customers visiting altogether.
And then there’s the worry about traffic. Although the Council says the multimillion-dollar plan will lead to ‘traffic calming’, locals argue traffic jams are more likely, as buses will be unable to pull into the kerb to pick up or drop off passengers. There’s also a concern about what effect the changes would have for emergency workers trying to get through the street.
Residents should prepare for minor disruptions as the work proceeds. It’s believed the work will be starting in August 2020, will take around 18 months and cost between $11-15 million.
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