Please note: This information is provided for archival purposes only.
About the Project
Where is the Civic Precinct?
The Civic Precinct site is where the current Council Chambers and Civic Hall are located, bordered by Devlin Street, Parkes Street and Blaxland Road.
How large is the site?
The site is approximately 16,000m2 in area, which includes road reserves and associated staff and public car parks.
Can the existing Council building continue to operate as is?
Council does not have a viable option of continuing to operate the existing building as is. The current Civic Centre is outdated, inefficient and past its use-by date. The building's poor design means that 25% of its space is consumed by service areas such as lifts and stairwells. Modern design practices aim to limit service areas in new buildings to around 10%.
The current Civic Centre building is three times more expensive to maintain than a modern commercial property. Maintenance alone costs Council $200,000 a year more than modern facilities of the same size. This cost differential will only increase as the building ages.
Council staff outgrew the Civic Centre some years ago and now have to operate from the Argyle Centre and the Operations Centre in addition to the Civic Centre.
The Civic Hall, next to the Civic Centre, is in a similar condition and due for replacement.
Can Council just upgrade the current building?
For Council to provide for its staff's needs, the building would need to be upgraded for another 20 years life. This would cost about $58 million and a debt of that size would be a burden for the whole of our community.
The Civic Centre was built in the 1960s and it has exceeded its designed life. The building is very expensive to run and it will cost $12.5 million over the next five years just to maintain it. This does not include upgrading the property to meet building, access and sustainability standards that have evolved over recent years.
What planning process is being followed to redevelop the site?
Development of the Civic Precinct is controlled through the Ryde Local Environment Plan (LEP). Council’s Planning Proposal seeks to amend the LEP to increase the height limit but reduce the overall amount of floor space allowable on the site.
Under the current planning controls, the height of any future development is limited to the same height of the current building. But the controls also allow for 100,000 m2 of building on the site. The current complex is less than 5,000 m2. The design that would follow from these controls would lead to a very poor shape and scale of development, which would not be an acceptable or viable outcome for our City.
The Planning Proposal(PDF, 32MB) seeks to change the maximum height allowed on the site (to RL 130 or 24 storeys) and reduce the overall floor space to 60,000 m2. These changes are necessary to make the redevelopment workable, financially viable and to ensure a good urban design outcome.
Who is the approval authority for changes to the planning controls?
The NSW Department of Planning is the approval authority for changes to the LEP currently being sought in the Amended Planning Proposal.
Why doesn’t Council include the changes to the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) for the Civic Precinct in the public exhibition of LEP 2011?
Council believes the proposed amendment to the LEP, the Planning Proposal, has such significance that it should not be incorporated immediately in the city wide planning instrument. It warrants separate consideration and community input including dedicated consultation and opportunity for comment.
How is Council ensuring it treats this project impartially?
Council is vigilant about following a robust process. A probity advisor has been appointed to oversee the procurement and evaluation processes of the Project Team and report independently to the General Manager. Through this audit role the probity advisor ensures Council is unbiased and fair in its preparation of the amendment to the LEP for the Civic Precinct.
What happens if the Planning Proposal is approved by the State Government?
If the Planning Proposal is approved by the State Government, Council will finalise a Development Control Plan (DCP) to ensure that future development on the site complies with the Council’s preferred design outcomes.
Once a developer has been selected (following Council’s procurement procedures), that organisation will then lodge a Development Application (DA) which, like the Planning Proposal, will be subject to community feedback . However in that case, the design proposal would be for real buildings, rather than the design concept used to illustrate the Planning Proposal. The DA and all the feedback will be analysed by independent planners as Council cannot assess it because it owns the land.
If the approved DA matches the outcome Council wants, that is, a new Civic Centre and good urban design, then Council may resolve for the land sale to go ahead and for funding to be made available from the successful developer to meet Council’s objectives. This will remove the need for Council to incur debt to replace its existing buildings.
What consultation has occurred to date?
The community was consulted in 2005 about the redevelopment of Ryde Town Centre, including both Top Ryde City shopping centre and the Civic Precinct site. The Civic Precinct Committee resolved in May 2011(PDF, 3MB) to undertake further consultation in June 2011 to enable key stakeholders such as local residents, community groups and current hirers of the facilities to have further input into future plans for the Civic Precinct. They were asked to cross check the feasibility principles to ensure nothing had been missed.
An extensive program of community consultation then took place around the Civic Precinct Planning Proposal. Media briefings occurred on 8 and 29 August, producing prominent newspaper articles on 10 and 31 August 2011.
Notification from Council’s Planning Unit was formally published on 10 August 2011 announcing a six week exhibition period to 21 September 2011, the same day that notification was also mailed to over 2,000 local property owners. Proposal documents were made available for public scrutiny at the Civic Centre, Ryde Planning and Business Centre (RPBC) and West Ryde Library; the former two sites included project display boards and a model at the RPBC.
Information was specially featured on Council’s website and an 1800 community information line and an enquiry email contact given for general enquiries. The Proposal was allocated a four page brochure attached to the City View sent to 38,000 addresses on 17 August. Newspaper advertisements of community drop-in sessions were published on 10 and 17 August and 7 and 14 September. Three 2 hour and one 3 hour drop-in sessions were held outside the RPBC in Top Ryde City during weekday evenings and Saturdays during the period 18 August to 8 September. A separate evening briefing was given to four local Chambers of Commerce on 17 August. 70 Community Groups, Hall Hirers and Businesses were invited by email and phone to a briefing in the Ryde Library on 30 August.
The Mayor’s newspaper column included information on the Proposal on 17 and 24 August and 7 and 14 September.
270 homes close to the Civic Precinct were door-knocked between 15 and 17 August to explain the Proposal and distribute further copies of the City View information leaflet. A supplementary brochure drop was carried out on 19 and 20 August. On 28 August approximately 550 letters were hand-distributed to homes close to the Civic Precinct site inviting residents to a neighbourhood briefing, which was held in the Civic Hall on the evening of 6 September.
Email and phone contact was made with a variety of culture and language diverse group representatives.
Redevelopment of the Site
Are there any other uses proposed apart from Civic facilities and a multi-purpose performance space?
The site is zoned for mixed use, which can include commercial, civic, retail and residential The final mix will ultimately be determined by the approval of successful developer’s Development Application. Feasibility studies currently suggest the most likely use for the remainder of the development, in addition to the civic component, will be residential.
How will Council fund the new Civic Precinct?
The Planning Proposal, if approved, will enable Council to sell part of its land at the Civic Centre to generate funds in excess of $60 million. This would fund a new Civic Centre on the Devlin Street site and pay for new Council offices where staff could be brought together from three Council locations.
Who will redevelop the site?
Council will not be the developer. If the Planning Proposal is approved, there will be a competitive tendering process for the future redevelopment in order to achieve the best financial and design outcomes for the community.
Will future redevelopment of the site result in overshadowing of neighbouring properties?
Council is committed to achieving the best urban design for the Civic Precinct. The Development Control Plan (DCP) will set out the principles for future development. The conceptual drawings and plans used in the Planning Proposal illustrate an option for the site, not a real building.
Any future Development Application will be required to produce shadow diagrams so the impact on adjacent properties can be considered.
What is being done to ensure the site is not overdeveloped?
The project team undertook feasibility studies to better understand the opportunities and constraints of the site and the Planning Proposal reflects the findings of these studies.
The Planning Proposal is only a concept design, not a final design. It outlines Council’s key objectives of having existing planning controls changed to allow an increase in height but a reduction of the amount of floor space to 60,000m2. This would lead to a better design outcome.
What is being done to address potential increases in traffic in and around the site?
The existing access ramps and tunnels that service Top Ryde City shopping centre are also designed to connect to the Civic Precinct site.
This whole infrastructure (which cost $40,000,000 and was provided by the developer of the shopping centre at no expense to ratepayers) is designed to cater for a traffic load that would have been generated by 100,000 square metres of space on the Civic Precinct.
The plan to reduce space at the Civic Precinct to 60,000 square metres produces an outcome well within the infrastructure’s designed capacity.
Two safe pedestrian links and significant changes to the road network have already been made as part of that previous redevelopment. Council is assessing all other traffic implications to minimise changes on local roads.
What kinds of community facilities will be included on the Civic Precinct site?
- A multi-function performance space with generous back-stage facilities and a 400 seat auditorium
- A variety of meeting and conference rooms for community use
- A café, courtyard and outdoor meeting spaces
- A new Mayoral Office and council Chamber and efficient space for Councillors
- A rooftop community garden
What will be the cost to ratepayers and will the redevelopment result in a rate rise?
The City of Ryde will use the most cost effective model for the redevelopment of the Civic Precinct. If the Planning Proposal is approved, our City will get up-to-date community facilities and efficient premises for Council staff that are cheaper to maintain.
The aim is to utilise the value of some of the Civic Precinct land to provide a new Civic Centre and Council office building, both of which will be owned by the City of Ryde. Using the land value in this way allows us to upgrade existing facilities and replace obsolete structures without imposing a huge debt burden on the community.