Expression of Interest into the Australian Technology Park

Greens Candidate for Newtown Jenny Leong and Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge have submitted an expression of interest to UrbanGrowth NSW on the Australian Technology Park. The submission was made on behalf of the people of NSW.


Dear UrbanGrowth NSW,

We are writing to submit an expression of interest to keep the Australian Technology Park in public hands.

As the site is already owned by the NSW people and is currently functioning as an active technology park, public space and site of significant heritage, in making this expression of interest, we will not be responding to criteria 1, 2 or 3 which relate to commercial parameters including Sale Price and Settlement Period; Financial capacity to complete the sale; and Demonstrated recent experience and capability to deliver world class master-planned developments and business parks.

Instead our submission – which draws on contributions from people in NSW who have a long connection with the site as well as a commitment to the principles that are outlined in the Better Planning Network’s Community Planning Charter – will focus on the remaining criteria:

4. Sustainability and heritage credentials

5. Risks to UrbanGrowth NSW 

We have also added a sixth criteria: Public Interest and input to our submission as this seemed to be missing from UrbanGrowth NSW’s criteria. 

The submission addressing criteria 4, 5 and 6 is included below.

If you would like to meet with people of NSW to discuss this expression of interest and the benefits of keeping the Australian Technology Park site in public hands please contact us via our office on 9099 1077 to arrange.

 

Regards,

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Jenny Leong

Greens Candidate for Newtown

 

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David Shoebridge

Greens NSW MP 

Protecting the Australian Technology Park

Australia’s historic centre of railway engineering 

The Australian Technology Park (ATP) is a business and technology centre at Eveleigh, in the heart of Redfern. It spreads over 13.9 hectares of land.  Australian Technology Park occupies the site of the former Eveleigh Railway Workshops.

Criteria 4: Sustainability and Heritage significance 

When they were built in the late 19th century, the Eveleigh Railway Workshops were the largest and most technologically advanced workshops in the southern hemisphere. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage acknowledges that the Eveleigh Railway Workshops are considered to have world heritage significance by curators at the Smithsonian Institute Washington DC, USA[1].

In 1988 the Smithsonian Institute Washington DC, USA, wrote to the NSW government urging that they preserve the Eveleigh Rail Workshops. The letter said the precinct was an extremely rare and well-preserved example of turn of the century rail shops. They wrote: “If it would be of any help in the campaign to convince the NSW Government of the historical value of the shop complex, I would observe that such turn-of-the-century railway shops, with essentially original equipment intact, are now a great rarity world-wide”.

Manufacturing and repairs eventually ceased on the site in the mid 1980s and in 1995, the then state government worked with the University of Sydney, the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of New South Wales using a combined investment from the NSW state and the Federal government, and commenced planning the Australian Technology Park. The ATP was officially opened in November 1996 and has evolved into one of the nation’s pre-eminent technology and business precincts.

The ATP became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority (RWA) in April 2005. In January 2012 when RWA concluded operations, responsibility for the ATP was handed to the NSW Government’s urban planning agency, Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, now known as UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation. It is owned by the people of NSW – and this expression of interest submits it should remain in public hands.

Acknowledged historic and social significance

The Australian Technology Park was once the site of Australia’s largest industrial complex, the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. The site is recognised as having both national and international heritage significance. The state heritage listing for the workshops includes the following notation:

Eveleigh Workshops are the best collection of Victorian period railway workshops in Australia and are considered to have world heritage significance by curators of the Smithsonian Institute Washington DC, USA; and to be of the highest significance in the development of the railway system and of the State. They represent the pinnacle of manufacturing achievement in NSW and the equipment was once (and remains) the best collection of heavy machinery. The buildings are fine examples of workshop architecture and are an important part of the historic fabric of the inner city.

The Eveleigh Railway Yards are some of the finest historic railway engineering workshops in the world and Eveleigh contains one of the most complete late 19th century and early 20th century forge installations, collection of cranes and power systems, in particular the hydraulic system. The place is of international significance and is one Australia’s finest industrial heritage items.                      

The two blacksmithing bays inhabited by Wrought Artworks are the only intact operating bays remaining. The rest of the site has been reborn as the Australian Technology Park, with static displays of samples of the complex equipment from the machine shop exhibited throughout.

The site is equally important for its social and industrial history, being the site of important struggles for historic working conditions including work-free weekends, amenities and fair pay.

Uses on site

Since 2009 the site has been earmarked for technologically innovative workplaces. It houses the Channel 7 broadcast and studio facilities together with industrial and innovation campuses for numerous Australian universities. Global Television (Australia) also setup studios in one half of the new building. Since ATP's opening numerous ads, music clips, photo shoots and filming productions have been filmed within the conference centre at the park, including the 2008 Australian MTV Awards, MasterChef Australia, Junior MasterChef Australia, some parts of Australia's Next Top Model and for the episode 56 of The Renovators.

Much of the original architecture and a significant part of the industrial machinery on the site remain in good condition including a publicly accessible blacksmith’s forge and workshop. The site remains general open to the public and includes essential public pathways linking Redfern station and the surrounding suburbs.

In 2013 the NSW government received a report that it had commissioned – All Aboard: A Fresh Start to Rail Heritage in NSW – which recommended the formation of a new independent NSW transport heritage organisation to oversight all sites throughout NSW and funding to support its role. A new body has been formed but with no clear mission for what should be protected at ATP and in the Redfern precinct. All aspects of rail heritage in ATP should be joined up with the preservation of buildings in the Redfern precinct and with the Carriage Works across the rail corridor. A pedestrian and cycling bridge could be built linking these precincts that also provides new access to Redfern station platforms to maximize its value as a tourism destination and complete location of world class rail heritage. 

The ATP site should be retained as research and innovation hub – open to the public, with access to open, green and heritage spaces. 

Criteria 5: Risks to UrbanGrowth NSW

In 2013, UrbanGrowth NSW sought Registrations of Interest (ROI) in the possible development of three sites within the Park. On the ATP website it states, “Strong responses to the ROI process demonstrated that the best option for ATP to meet its long-term objectives would be to proceed to Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the sale of the whole Park”.[2]

Despite the fact that there is widespread public opposition in NSW to government plans to privatise public assets[3], on 4 December 4, 2014, the NSW Government revealed its intention to sell off all of the publicly owned Australian Technology Park to private developers, by announcing it is seeking expressions of Interest “to confirm market interest in the Australian Technology Park”[4].

There are significant risks to the credibility of UrbanGrowth NSW and the state of NSW if the sale of the ATP site is progressed. The local community opposition about the sell-off of the site is clear. However, the significance of the ATP site extends beyond the local and beyond the heritage value already outlined.

Current use of the site is making a crucial contribution to innovation and technology – and all happening on a site which has historically has been the centre of new technologies of the past.

NICTA: International recognition

The great significance of ATP as an internationally recognized model for research and innovation producing 21st century Australian owned technology was demonstrated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she asked to visit the National Information and Communications Technology Australia based at ATP following the G20 conference held in Brisbane last year.[5]

The public campaign against the sell-off – working with heritage experts, trade unionists, tenants and people from the local community and across the world that have a connection to this site will continue to grow.

Criteria 6: Public Interest and input

In consideration of public concerns about privatisation, and the lack of evidence that such sales of public assets are beneficial to the long term future of the people of NSW, the Greens conducted a survey to give local residents and those with a long standing connection with the site an opportunity to give their feedback on the proposed sell off of the Australian Technology Park.  Respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the park in public hands; and the following comments are included to summarise public feeling on the issue.

Some of these contributions are included below.

Mark

The establishment of the Australian Technology Park has been a fabulous innovation and has had enormous benefits for the Sydney public, as well as the organisations that use it. It's clearly a key public asset and should be kept in public hands for the benefit of Sydney and NSW now and into the future.

Con

It is a public asset that in parts has heritage value, provides green space and exercise facilities for the local resident. The land is too valuable to sell and parts could be used for low cost housing.

Paul

We need to keep open spaces and public assets in public hands for the benefit of all of the community. When privatised we all lose.

Christopher

I am sick of Governments selling off or leading assets and space for short term gain

Peter

Public space fosters community as local residents feel a sense of ownership over public space that they can never feel over (often restricted access) to private property.

Warwick

The Baird Government is privatising whatever it can as quickly as it can. The National Innovation Centre at ATP won an international award in 2013. ATP is home to NICTA- Australia's leading centre for ICT research. It is also home to rail heritage of global significance. A private owner will want to maximise profits from the whole site placing existing innovation enterprises and rail heritage at risk. It is also great community asset with local community members being able to enjoy the open green space and walk to and from Redfern station.

Stephen

The gradual and now accelerated expropriation of the commons is surely one of the most pernicious themes of modernity. It's deja vu all over again as they say (ha ha). The robber barons are with us again. The role of the church has been taken by Capitalism in general or politics perhaps, which cannot be distinguished from it. But this is the usual outrage. I will be interested to see if success is possible. If so I will, I think, become committed to helping in any way possible to peal it back. The very best of luck I wish you without irony. OTHER; I wish to join Greens.

Cathy

I am against any government selling off public property and privatising institutions or assets that should be used for the benefit of the whole community.  Australian Technology Park is a major asset and must be kept in public hands.

Matthew

Now, an era of hyper privatisation is robbing future generations of its right to be able to create and enjoy their communities rather than have them diminished and undermined by private business interests. ATP sell off needs to be the centrepiece in the struggle to resist privatisation in the Newtown electorate.

Ben

Good public space in the city is becoming scare. Witness the proposed nonsense in the Domain and the catastrophe that is Barangaroo

Maeve

Public spaces like the Australian Technology Park make me want to live in Sydney. These areas allow for our ownership of exciting developments and innovation. The history of the ATP belongs to the community.

Helen

Never ending growth, expansion, development is the logic of the cancer cell...

Linda

It is much-needed open public space in the very densely built inner city precinct, where citizens of the community enjoy social interaction, to walk, talk, chill out,  and a place for exercise, so desperately needed for healthy bodies and healthy minds.  The rich history of this park upholds the well-being and sense of connectedness to place, heritage for the public community.  This promotes harmony in the community and reduces social problems.

Amy

Public land is for the public good. We own it and our taxes go to retaining and maintaining it. It is a finite resource - once sold into private hands it is longer available to all to use but something for the few to profit from. The government is voted for and supposed to represent the public interest. Privatisation is the opposite of public interest.

Alastair

I have serious concerns about Australian Technology Park becoming privatised. Currently Australian Technology Park is wonderful public space and hub for creativity and innovation. It accessibility to people of diverse backgrounds and creative interests is vital enabler for new forms of expression and employment.

Robert

The ATP provides a tangible link to our past and celebrates the contribution of many thousands of Australians, building rail infrastructure for our city.

Jamie

It is a valuable asset, why is that whenever we have a valuable asset we seem hell bent on selling it?

Bruce

I currently use the casual-use sports fields, tennis and soccer, on Henderson Rd. Will they be in danger too? People need space in the inner city to play, relax and reflect. It's a beautiful historic (perhaps unique in scale and preservation) mixed-use site. Leave it as it is

Mark

The site is one of major heritage value, one of the most important sites of industrial heritage in Australia. To fully respect this, it should be kept as a publicly owned place - to place it in private hands would expose it to commercialisation pressures, some of which could be insensitive enough to undermine its integrity as a heritage site. The parklands on the site (vital in a city rapidly growing in population) need to be safeguarded from pressures of development

Sarah

Because they're some of the best preserved steam powered engines from the Victorian era! This could be such a great drawcard for Sydney if used properly, as most equivalent machines in Europe were melted down for scrap metal in war efforts. Beat around the bush as much as you want, but we all know that if this gets sold off, then all the hard work to make this a great space will be used to make a profit. I don't want to pay to use something that was once public space. We need a little more foresight than that. We need public spaces that are unique and vibrant.

Alan

Far too many public assets have been sold off already.

Andrew

Keep the ATP in public ownership - we must maintain access to public space, heritage buildings and research centres.  Stop enclosing the commons!

As Lucy Taksa says:
"There have been over 10 heritage studies conducted on the site and all have acknowledged its significance. This site has been in public hands since the late 1870s. It is not only the centre piece of our nation’s industrial and railway heritage but also of our history of public sector enterprise, management, and innovation. Perhaps most importantly it is central to our history of citizenship. Over 25 State and Federal politicians commenced their working lives in these workshops including 3 NSW Premiers and 1 Governor-General. The father of another NSW Premier (Bob Carr) and the grandfather and father of a Prime Minister (Paul Keating) worked there. The site was the heart of the NSW transport system for over a century. Employees played a pivotal role in the struggle of Aboriginal rights and citizenship. It was one of the earliest multicultural employers. It was and early employer of women in industry and at the forefront of occupational health nursing with one of its staff receiving an MBE for her services to nursing. It played an important part in munitiions manufacture in WW2. This site is therefore not only of historical and heritage significance to the State of NSW but also the nation. It needs to be protected as a public owned space!"

Peter

Because of its historic and public interest and amenity.

Daniel

This is a fantastic Sydney public asset that should not be just sold off to make money for the big end of town.

Ben

It's an important part of our social history, and a key piece of land in inner-Sydney. Once its gone, we won't get it back.

Mg

There is so little public space for the Inner West's fast growing population already. To take away even more is just plain discriminatory when you consider how much open space other less populated and wealthy areas enjoy. We must keep this heritage open creative space for the community in public hands.

Simon

Because when we, the public, own capital, we can profit from it endlessly. In comparison selling it off is like selling the goose that lays the golden eggs - no more golden eggs for us once it is sold, and only the new private owners will get the profits then.

Peter

Of course this begs the question -- why should it be privatised? To benefit developers and other major party cronies?
But to answer the question above, two main reasons. Firstly, for the obvious heritage values. Secondly, it must remain in public hands in case we need to expand rail or other infrastructure in future.

Mark

It is already providing many different uses to the public and to innovative/creative businesses. Therefore does not need to be sold to private sector. The sports fields are for the community and are a valuable asset to the area. Also the heritage buildings (blacksmiths and steam railway are surely worth preserving for future generations knowledge and use. Lastly its just a beautiful peaceful area in amongst a busy city that many people use daily to travel through showing a glimpse into the inner wests past and with innovation the FUTURE

Geoffrey

It is a beautiful public space, suitable for big exhibitions, performances, theatre, school events, sydney festival, markets.  why would you privatise such a valuable space when it is working so well the way it is.

Pauline

Selling off this land will only lead to more soulless apartment blocks being built here, rather than a thriving commercial and innovation space.

Albert

Is this the old MacDonaldtown Railway Workshops and Marshalling Yards?  If so, besides being a heritage site which should remain in public hands, how can the Sydney Rail transport network be expanded without central railway land?

Sharlene

There is far to much high rise, high density development already in place in the area. How can selling a historic site be justified? Finish what has already been agreed to and allow community to have a rest from the noise, congestion, overcrowding and antagonism of development.

Lucy

I write as the leading scholarly expert on the history and heritage of the NSW Eveleigh Workshops Precinct. I have published extensively on the history and heritage of the site in both Australian and international journals. There have been over 10 heritage studies conducted on the site and all have acknowledged its significance. This site has been in public hands since the late 1870s. It is not only the centre piece of our nation's industrial and railway heritage but also of our history of public sector enterprise, management, and innovation. Perhaps most importantly it is central to our history of citizenship. Over 25 State and Federal politicians commenced their working lives in these workshops including 3 NSW Premiers and 1 Governor-General. The father of another NSW Premier (Bob Carr) and the grandfather and father of a Prime Minister (Paul Keating) worked there. The site was the heart of the NSW transport system for over a century. Employees played a pivotal role in the struggle of Aboriginal rights and citizenship. It was one of the earliest multicultural employers. It was and early employer of women in industry and at the forefront of occupational health nursing with one of its staff receiving an MBE for her services to nursing. It played an important part in munitions manufacture in WW2. This site is therefore not only of historical and heritage significance to the State of NSW but also the nation. It needs to be protected as a public owned space! I would be very happy to lend my support to any efforts to maintain the site in public hands.

Susan

It is an area of important cultural heritage -railway/industrial and social that is currently used in a way that allows access to the public, ongoing use of blacksmithing-almost impossible to see anywhere else and great venue for public events.these areal likely to be lost if it is privatised.

Cameron

No case has been made of how selling off this public asset is good governance.

Timothy

I am sick of Governments selling off or leading assets and space for short term gain. This negative backward 'american' style of thinking is wrong. It cost jobs, community awareness and activities, increases costs, reduces public assets that we have already paid for and reduces long term gains and benefits.

Emma

A place for small technology companies is vital to our future as a fossil-free nation. Retaining government ownership of the ATP is a powerful message that the government supports a small technology industry culture. In addition, the ATP's open space and heritage infrastructure is vital to the cultural and social life of the area. It is an important community asset.

Andrew

Yes, no doubt. It's working well, collecting rent from private tenants and helping the NSW budget. This way heritage and public access can be guaranteed with some measure of public control. If it is sold we can be sure the public will not get the full value of its worth.

Tony

A state asset that is giving back to the state both financially and historically. Short term gain equals long term loss. Look at what has happened to the sail of the state owned electricity grid. Supply and demand equals company profit at the expense of the people.

Mark

Public assets are just that... assets owned by all of us. Lets keep this one for generations to come.

Veronica

It is a public asset.  Its history and service to Sydney cannot be replaced.  The Government should not be selling our public assets simply because they see the asset as a development opportunity.  NO! It should remain in public hands for generations to come. If this sorry state government continues its sell off then Sydney will not be worth living in. 

Mike

The people of a local area or region should have a say in how significant public buildings and facilities of this kind are used and maintained. Once it's sold, they will likely have no meaningful say ever again.

 


[1] http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=4801102

[2] http://www.atp.com.au/Property/Development/THE-FUTURE-AT-THE-ATP

[3] UMR Research NSW Statewide Voter Survey of April 26th – 27th 2014

[4] http://www.urbangrowthnsw.com.au/work/urban-transformation-projects/central-to-eveleigh-urban-transformation-transport-program.aspx

[5] http://www.atp.com.au/News---Resources/Newsletters/2014-Newsletter/December-2014/ATP-shines-in-international-spotlight


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