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Project Background

Please note: This information is provided for archival purposes only.

A common sense vision for the future

The proposed Civic Precinct redevelopment makes good sense for Ryde and the future of our community. At a time of uncertainty, it will ensure the economic wellbeing of the local economy, helping deliver local jobs and prosperity.

The proposed redevelopment will provide much needed public facilities for the community, as well as boosting local employment opportunities and business certainty. It will facilitate the renewal of infrastructure, critical to underpinning the investment already made by so many local businesses in Top Ryde.

The revitalisation of the Ryde Town Centre, which began with the acclaimed Top Ryde City development, will finally be completed, something that all Ryde residents can be extremely proud of. The finished Town Centre will become a vibrant place of leisure, business and retail activity.

The redevelopment of Ryde Civic Precinct is a key element of Council’s long held vision to deliver much needed new community and civic facilities and achieve a number of the key objectives outlined in the City of Ryde’s recently adopted Community Strategic Plan.

A major objective of the proposal is to replace the existing Civic Centre building, which has reached the end of its effective life, is costly to maintain and places a significant and ongoing burden on Council’s financial resources. The proposal includes:

  • A 400-seat modern performance venue, suitable for concerts, plays, the Ryde Eisteddfod, recitals, lectures and community events (and replaces the current ageing Civic Hall, which is almost 50 years old)
  • Three new multi-function rooms for community use and Council meetings, with an additional seating capacity of 255
  • An open-air public square (similar to ‘La Piazza’ in Top Ryde)
  • Car parking - 86 additional public spaces
  • Easier access to Parkes Street for vehicles and pedestrians
  • New administration offices for Council staff.

What’s happened so far?

A Planning Proposal to amend the Local Environment Plan (LEP) for the Civic Centre site (to enable future redevelopment of the Ryde Civic Precinct) was placed on public exhibition for six weeks from 10 August until 21 September 2011.

Following a review by an independent planning expert, the Planning Proposal was then considered by Council at its meeting on 18 October 2011.

The independent review recommended the Planning Proposal be amended to restrict the area where height could be increased, then re-exhibited for 28 days. This re-exhibition period closed on 23 November 2011.

Following the re-exhibition period, the amended Proposal went back to Council on 13 December 2011, where it was resolved to forward the proposal to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure for determination.

The amended LEP was approved by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and gazetted in March 2012.

The approved Planning Proposal amends the planning controls for the site, which enables Council to sell part of the land at the Civic Centre to generate funds through redevelopment to deliver new community facilities. 

Community consultation

Council has undertaken an extensive program of consultation, to seek community feedback on this important proposal. The initial consultation period included:

  • Advertisements in local media and extensive coverage in local papers - view media clippings(PDF, 2MB)
  • Planning documents on City of Ryde’s website 
  • Project displays and model at Council’s Planning and Business Centre - view project displays(PDF, 5MB)
  • A project flyer distributed to 38,000 households - view project flyer(PDF, 1MB)
  • Formal written notification to more than 2000 property owners 
  • Briefings to neighbouring residents, Chambers of Commerce (from across the LGA) and key user and community groups 
  • Three community drop-in sessions at Ryde Planning and Business Centre and a Community information day at Top Ryde City Shopping Centre - so the community could speak directly with members of the Project Team 
  • Door knock of some 270 neighbouring residents 
  • Regular updates in the Mayor’s Column in the local newspapers.

Why does Council want to replace the existing Civic Centre?

The Civic Centre was built in the 1960s and is well past its use by date. It’s expensive to run, costing an additional $200,000 a year compared to a modern building of the same size. $39.2 million of ratepayers’ money is needed just to bring the current civic buildings up to Australian standards. This is an unreasonable debt burden for our community, for no major gain.

What changes have been made to the planning controls?

The key changes in the amended planning controls reduces the maximum floor space allowed on the site to from 100,000 m2 to 60,000m2 and allows a change in the maximum height of any future development.

The previous LEP allowed a height of RL91, which is 35m above ground level or the equivalent to 11 storeys across the entire precinct. This is the same height as the current building.

The amended LEP allows height variations across the site. This provides an increase in some areas and a decrease in others. For example, the height limit along the Devlin Street frontage has been increased to 75m or about 24 storeys to allow a taller more slender development whilst the height limit on the western side of the site along Blaxland Road (at the back of the current Civic Centre) has been reduced to 21.5m or about six storeys.

What’s planned for the site?

There will be a mix of uses for the site that will ultimately be determined by a successful developer. However feasibility studies suggest that apart from community facilities, the most likely uses for the remainder of the development will be residential.

Any future development must include community facilities such as a multi-purpose function and performance space and civic facilities including Council Chambers.

What about the concept plan?

The original Planning Proposal included an indicative concept plan for a potential future development. This concept design was simply an indicative illustration showing the type of complex that could be developed it was NOT a final design. The ultimate design will be subject to a Development Application Process.

Additional development controls

Council has prepared a Development Control Plan (DCP) for the site, which sets out more detailed planning controls, to encourage high quality design. The DCP covers the guidelines and rules for the design, car parking requirements, public domain etc to which any future Development Application must comply.

Tender process

The City of Ryde has undertaken a detailed process to seek private sector interest in this project. This started in October 2011 when Council agreed to seek an initial Expression of Interest (EOI) from suitable organisations within the property industry.

The initial EOI process received nine submissions that were then assessed against a set criteria, with four companies invited to submit detailed tender proposals. At the close of the Tender period Council had received proposals from both Lend Lease and from a joint venture partnership between Billbergia and Frasers Property Australia. A Tender Review Panel reviewed the merits of each proposal in detail based on intensive scrutiny of financial, design, sustainability and other important criteria.

A report has been prepared for Council, which recommends that the City of Ryde enters into negotiations with Lend Lease, as the preferred development partner, for the Ryde Civic Precinct.

Where to next?

Subject to Council approval of a preferred tenderer, a Development Application (DA) will be lodged which, like the Planning Proposal, will be subject to community feedback. The DA and all 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 a partial land sale will go ahead and funding made available from the successful developer to meet Council’s objectives to deliver new community facilities.

What’s happening to the Argyle Centre?

A recent resolution by Council to relocate staff and hall hirers out of the Argyle Centre due to the dilapidated state of the building.

The Argyle Centre site has been included in the Civic Precinct Redevelopment feasibility analysis. Council is currently investigating options that provide the potential to offer financial and social benefits through redevelopment which has the potential to deliver affordable/key worker housing. 

Last updated on 29 March 2016