Greens announce intention to submit expression of interest for Australian Technology Park site

Earlier today the Greens announced their intention to submit an expression of interest to UrbanGrowth NSW for the Australian Technology Park (ATP) site to keep it in public hands. The NSW Baird Government has called for expressions of interests with the intention of selling off the publicly owned Australian Technology Park.

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Let us know the reasons you want the Australian Technology Park to remain in public hands, and we will add it to our expression of interest: http://www.jennyleong.org/atp_survey

The Greens committed to do everything possible to protect this important heritage site and preserve the living history of inner Sydney and are calling on the community and those who support the protection of our urban heritage to join them.

“The call out is urgent because expressions of interest close on 30 January. That’s why David Shoebridge and I announced our intention to submit an expression of interest to UrbanGrowth on behalf of the people of NSW calling for the site to remain in public hands,” says Greens Candidate for Newtown Jenny Leong.

“Over the coming week we will be seeking input from the community into our submission for the site to remain in public hands.”

“The Greens stand for defending and protecting community interest and that's what we will be doing with our submission to UrbanGrowth.” 

"We need creative ideas to improve public assets, not privatisation of valuable public resources.

"We have the opportunity to maintain a world class heritage and innovation centre in the middle of Sydney for future generations.

"Preserving Sydney's rail heritage is a priority for the Greens. Heritage is a living thing, it’s not just about locking up places for the uber wealthy to access. It’s also about how the community lives in and loves our common places and spaces.”

“The people within the seat of Newtown have almost no green space left and now we’re told that we’re going to be locked out of our beautiful industrial sites that have been part of our lives for years – it is just not on.”

“This place is an integral part of our shared history, keeping the ATP in public hands is the best way to ensure that we recognise the contribution of countless industrial workers in building the infrastructure of our city."

Greens MP and heritage spokesperson, David Shoebridge said: 

"This is an irreplaceable public asset that must be retained in public hands.

"The scale and richness of the site's industrial architecture and machinery is appreciated not just by the local community, but it gives it national and international historic significance

"We need to act now, to grow the grassroots campaign to prevent the privatisation of the Eveleigh Railway Yards and retain the site for public open space, innovative businesses, community uses and affordable housing," Mr Shoebridge said. 

The Greens have a plan to save more than 13 hectares of precious and historic public land from the Coalition’s privatisation chopping block. The Australian Technology Park in the heart of Redfern is the historic centre of railway engineering in Australia. Its extraordinary industrial past and promising high tech future must be protected and kept in in public hands. Expressions of interest for the Coalition’s wholesale privatisation of the site close on 30 January 2015. There is no doubt the future of the ATP will be a key election issue for the residents of inner Sydney, especially those in Redfern and Newtown.

Brief History

Construction of the yards commenced in 1884 and the first workshop opened in 1887. The manufacture of locomotives commenced in 1907 with the extensive New Locomotive Workshop opened in that same year. The site continued to grow and expand throughout the 20th century until the advent of diesel locomotives in the mid-1960s.

Manufacturing and repairs eventualy ceased on the site in the mid 1980s and it was converted to its existing public use as the Australian Technology Park in 2009. Its rich history is closely linked to the Eveleigh Carriage Works on the northwest side of the central railway corridor.

Acknowledged historical 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 from the period. 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 of Australia's finest industrial heritage items. 

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.

Current 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. Much of the original architecture and a significant part of the industrial machinery on the site remain in good condition including a publically accessible blacksmiths forge and workshop. The site remains generally open to the public and includes essential public pathways linking Redfern Station and the surrounding suburbs. 

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Why keep this as public land?

This is a site with a rich and unique history as an extraordinary public enterprise producing the railway stock that quite literally transformed and connected this State throughout the 20th century. It is 13 hectares of precious public land, much of it publicly accessible open space, right in the heart of inner Sydney that must be kept in public hands.

The Greens are committed to preventing the privatisation of the site and retaining it as a publicly owned heritage site with a vibrant future supporting innovative and skilled 21st century technology companies. This was the plan with the establishment of the ATP in 2009, which can be achieved with continued long term planning and investment.

Retaining the site in public hands will also ensure the ongoing protection of its heritage, the viability of community uses including the blacksmiths shop and open public access to this extraordinarily rich industrial site.

Bridging the great Redfern divide

The Greens are committed to building pedestrian and cycle infrastructure linking the ATP with the Carriage Works across the central railway corridor. In the form of either a bright and activated underpass or a wide overpass this would be an important community asset linking two vibrant but separate parts of the inner city.

The Coalition's plan to privatise the site will prevent this project, along with other genuinely innovative public uses, for this 13 hectares of public land.

Affordable Housing, not private profit

While most of the site must be protected from development to protect open space and the historical record, there remains substantial opportunity for adaptive reuse and respectful modest development on the site. With the ongoing crisis in housing affordability in the inner city, the Greens are committed to ensuring that the site is retained for affordable housing based on the successful City West units that adjoin the nearby Carriage Works site.

 


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