Five years after its completion, an independent study has been undertaken of The Concourse.
The Concourse contains:
- the Chatswood Library (500 square metres)
- Art Space
- Car Park
- Urban Screen
- Retail Outlets including restaurants and bars
- Performance venues and meetings facilities including the Concert Hall (1,000 seats),
the Theatre (500 seats), the Civic Pavilion and the Studio.
Within the performing arts facility are also a Rehearsal Room, Green Room, Orchestra
Room (also used for small conferences or a break.
The study found that “The Concourse represents a major breakthrough in the model of cultural precincts in Australia. No other city in Australasia that we know of has achieved anything similar to date.”
The Concourse cost $173M. It was 38% funded by the sale or lease of other Council properties; 32% from lons; 17% from Council reserves and a 10% rate hike for businesses in the Chatswood CBD.
To date, 163,000 people have attended cultural performances; 180,000 people have used the carpark and a massive 685,000 people have visited the Library.
Apart from the Library, the other functional areas within The Concourse have generated an operational surplus.
The report questioned the value of the Urban Screen and the lack of overarching management of the precinct.
In conclusion, the study found “The Concourse has been recognised as an example of innovation and planning which is highly regarded both within the local government sector and across other industries for its achievements in creating a functional public space which combines community services and performing arts with an income generating retail precinct. The Concourse Project Review acknowledges the many positive outcomes achieved by development of The Concourse, but also identifies opportunities for how the precinct can be better utilised and managed to
attract growth in usage and generate greater revenue. The recommendations in the Review
provide Council with stepping stones to achieve the future directions outlined within the
Posted from a Council email sent to a resident:
As promised via twitter this is the response from the Acting Director:
The application was determined by Council last year, inclusive of the removal of trees. It is noted that we are currently notifying residents.
With respect to the subject tree removals, an Arborist report was requested during the assessment of the application, and subsequently assessed by Council’s Landscape Officer and found to be acceptable. The approved development will involve the removal of two trees of high retention value, including a Forest Red Gum and Water Gum. The proposed car park extension requires the infilling of an indented section of the existing car park. The subject two trees are located directly within the footprint of this extension (south side). It was not feasible to retain the two trees should Council consent to the proposed works as clearly informed in the assessment report. However, suitable replacement trees as well as general improvement and maintenance works will be carried out to the affected garden area within Currey Park as required by the approval.
Given the approved car park extension is generally limited within the an existing indented section along the southern elevation of the car park, it is not considered to materially reduce public enjoyment of Currey Park. The proposed additions to the southern side of the existing Albert Avenue Car Park will require minor modifications to the existing landscaping within Currey Park. In particular, the landscape moulding at the rear of the existing water feature needs to be modified, and the pump and equipment associated with the water feature are to be relocated. These works are considered minor, and are not considered to affect public enjoyment and Council’s on-going maintenance of the park. The applicant is required to closely consult and coordinate works within Currey with Council officers, and a public asset protection plan is required to be developed.
The approved car park extension is necessary to address the need for additional car parking with respect to Deferred Commencement Development Consent DA2013/557 issued by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (Sydney East) for the Re-development and refurbishment of the existing shopping complex (Westfield Shopping Centre Chatswood).
Council is the certifier for the CC, which is yet to be issued. There is also a permit application pending for limited construction access via Currey Park, which has been discussed with Council officers.
Let me know if you would like further information on this matter.
I hope this assists. If you require any further information, please contact Mr Johnson on the email above.
Councillor Gail Giles-Gidney
Read Willoughby Council’s response about this fiasco.
A notification letter ( Currey Park Westfield Notification) dated 29th July 2015 was delivered to nearby residents of Currey Park by Westfield’s sub-contractor on the 12th August 2015.
One resident’s response follows:
Thank you for your belated letterbox notice yesterday re the expansion and encroachment of Westfield Chatswood Carpark into public land at Currey Park. The letter was dated July 29, but only delivered Aug 12, after work had already started in the now fenced-off area of Currey Park.
This situation is rapidly turning into a public, social and PR disaster for both Westfield and Willoughby Council. The felling of at least 12 trees, including at least 2 healthy and mature Water and Red Gums of 40 feet in height is unforgiveable.
Your letter states that Scentre Group (Westfield) will be reinstating the park and trees on completion of the works.What rubbish and how misleading is that! The large gums are irreplaceable. Sure you might plant a few smaller trees and try and get some of the landscaping back to somewhere near normal. But the entire canopy of the large trees and with it the shade for park goers, privacy for residents (from the car park) and general amenity for everyone will be forever lost.
This part of the carpark development should never have been allowed to get past first base, let alone proceed. To steal public land and destroy so many trees for the sake of an extra handful of parking spaces is an absolute tragedy and disgrace. The PR disaster to Westfield over this is only just starting to build and is going to resonate with the local community (your customers) for years to come.
Already an online petition is gathering pace, talkback radio is happening, and community groups and progress associations are making their stand. State and local politicians are now involved through Twitter and their constituents. Regrettably, senior management of Willoughby Council have gone into lockdown mode, shamed into silence.
Stop the Currey Park part of the process now before the damage becomes permanent.
READ WONG -Currey Park Trees Must be Saved, 14th August 2015 Labor MLC
Three hundred resident recently petitioned Willoughby Council in opposition to a proposal to limit through traffic on Coolaroo Road, Lane Cove North. Their petition prayer included “restricting access through this road will force local residents into the already congested traffic on Mowbray Road“.
Traffic problems in the ‘Mowbray’ precinct are well know by Council. There has been a traffic study and report prepared but Council is dragging the chain in holding a public meeting on the traffic issues in the area.
Recently a problem has emerged with the shared use of the O H Reid Oval in Chatswood West.
For decades this oval has work very well with all sorts of sports (soccer, cricket etc.) sharing the space. The sporting groups leave enough room around the perimeter of the playing area for dog owners to exercise their pets.
Recently, schoolboy AFL players from a private school hired the oval for the season. They have insisted on commandeering the whole of the oval area, telling dog-owners that they have an exclusive right.
Local dog owners have met with Mayor Giles-Gidney who is taking the matter up with the General Manager.
It is hoped that common sense will prevail with a return to the shared use model that has worked for years.
AS an aside, it has been suggested that another off-leash park be established on the Greville Street Oval. This will likely be part of a city-wide review of off-leash areas.
The following information was supplied by a local resident.
‘Sign’ the on;line petition to save Currey Park.
At least 10 trees in Currey Park – along with plants and gardens – are about to be sacrificed for a few extra car spaces added to Westfield Chatswood Carpark. The trees to be destroyed include a Forest Red Gum and a Water Gum. Both of these are magnificent mature trees, at least 40 feet in height and classified by Council as of high retention value. The loss of these significant specimens will be of severe detrimental social impact to the community – including loss of shade for recreational users, loss of privacy (from the carpark) for nearby residents and visual degradation for everyone. Their potential loss will also contribute to a loss of Currey Park’s cultural and historical significance.
Until last Wednesday (Aug 5) I was unaware of their imminent destruction.Upon enquiring to Willoughby Council I was advised that notifications were sent out sometime in 2014 with no submissions received. Determination of the “Development” occurred on Oct 27 2014. I placed on record that I am a long term resident of Parkside Lane, Chatswood – overlooking Currey Park and the closest residential building to the Westfield Carpark – and did not receive any notification. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, did any of my neighbours.
Irrespective of notification or otherwise, it is hard to reconcile how this development application was ever approved, when the gains of a few extra car parking spaces are weighed against the substantial loss of public recreation space and amenity. Every day children, couples, families and groups enjoy the peace and serenity of Currey Park. It is an escape and an oasis behind a very busy CBD – something the noisier recreation area on the edge of Chatswood Oval cannot provide. The larger trees are irreplaceable, their canopy treasured. Together with another 8 endangered medium size ones their proposed loss is too great to ignore.
Let us hope that commonsense will prevail at all levels. The community deserves it.
Even Council appears to contradict itself in the Development Application Document when it states: “the proposed additions to the … Car Park will require minor modifications of the existing landscaping within Currey Park”. Can I urge you to take every possible action in reversing or modifying this particular part of the Development Approval before it is too late.