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    Parramatta River City upgrades include new beach, wetlands and a circular quay

    Nathan Johnson

    Landscape architecture and urban design firm McGregor Coxall have envisioned a revitalised river foreshore precinct for Parramatta City, one that includes a faux public beach, enhanced public transport infrastructure, new pedestrian and laneway links, and a variety of new buildings.

    The proposed development will span 1.5km down the Parramatta River corridor between O’Connell and Harris Streets in the Parramatta CBD and comprises four distinct precincts that are defined by the five trafficable bridges running north-south across the river.

    ‘Kings Quarter’ is the westernmost precinct and will be defined by the Rings and Marsden Street bridges. Proposed for this quarter are upgrades to the King’s School (1) and Justice Precinct’s foreshores (2) to include multi-functional terraces, a primary wetland and linking footpaths to the local stadium—Parramatta Park.

    The ‘Cultural Quarter’ proposals include a Riverside Theatre (3) that will affront the northern banks of the river and a Riverside Tower (6) that will rise from the southern bank. The tower will include commercial, retail, a discovery centre and residential units.  Prince Alfred Park will also receive an upgrade and incorporate new pedestrian links and event spaces.

    Moving east along the river the development grows in scale at the ‘City Quarter West’ precinct with a ‘Riverside Terrace’ (7) on the northern bank and a ‘River Square’ (8) on the southern. If approved, the River Square will be Australia’s first Water Square—a multi-functional space that can accommodate up to 10,000 people, a floating stage, various event functions, children’s play and riverside swimming. Similarly, the opposing Terrace, an upper level and lower level plaza, will be designed for entertainment and will accommodate markets and other temporary initiatives.

    Also in the City Quarter West is the proposed City Beach (10) that will be built on the southern foreshore between Barry Wilde Bridge and the Elizabeth Street Footbridge. It is designed to provide a passive recreational space and an alternative riverside destination to the River Square and Parramatta Quay.

    The City Quarter East Precinct and Parramatta Quay will house the ‘Charles Street Weir’ (12), the ‘Escarpment Boardwalk’ (13) and Parramatta Quay (14) which would create a major ferry interchange and connect Parramatta with Sydney. The proposal says that the quay’s shape drew reference from Sydney’s Circular Quay.

    An artist’s impression of City Beach (above) and the River Terraces (below) along the Parramatta River foreshore.

     In total, the proposals submitted by McGregor Coxall incorporate six pedestrian crossings, a number of heritage items, public domain foreshore areas to the north and south of the River, two weirs, a Rivercat Ferry Wharf, a variety of built conditions and adjacent parkland abutments.

    The proposal document also includes a ‘Built Form and Structures Plan’ which suggests a number of principles to improve river address and guide future built form within the strategy area.

    Those suggestions include:

    • Cultural Landmark Buildings - Changes to riverside theatre and a new aboriginal cultural centre are proposed to form cultural landmarks along the river,
    • Arrival Landmark Buildings - Landmark buildings are indicated in strategic locations to enhance sense of arrival;
    • High Quality Building Frontages - New and upgraded building frontages to address and activate the river corridor;
    • Heritage Adaptive Re-use - wherever possible heritage buildings should be enhanced and adaptively reused;

    Two stakeholder roundtables were held to prior to the release of the proposal and they included landowners, developers, council committee members, businesses and state government authorities.

    The strategy is now on public exhibition and two drop-in sessions where council will be on hand to discuss the plan will be held on Wednesday, November 5, 1.30pm to 4pm and Thursday November, 6, 5pm to 7.30pm.

    It is also available here:

    THE DESIGN PRINCIPLES:

    1. Establish Parramatta Quay: Enhance sense of arrival to Parramatta through a new modern ferry terminal building, introduce cages and restaurants and establish clear view corridors and access points to Philip Street.
    2. Create a Heart to the River: Establish a major public space called River Square that can accommodate a variety of active functions. Introduce terraced seating within the public space and establish a water focal point that encourages water based activation.
    3. Celebrate the River’s Heritage: Enhance Marsden Street Weir and Charles Street Weir
    4. Activate Parramatta River: Introduce a network of public spaces and active laneways throughout the river corridor to incorporate water destinations and places for engagement. Encourage family areas and engage a greater variety of outdoor festivals and events. 
    5. Front up to the River: The foreshore presents an opportunity to initiate an active river edge by reorientating building activation to the waterside and public domain.
    6. Strengthen River Movement: Locate major access nodes between the bridges and the riverside corridor, Introduce a major upper level connection which engages with the River corridor and connects Parramatta Quay through to Riverside Tower.
    7. Connect the River to the City: Accommodate future light rail along Church Street through to Parramatta Railway Station, widen footpaths, introduce laneway connections and Establish Horwood Civic Link to enhance connections between Parramatta Square and River Square.
    8. Enhance River Environment: Introduce a primary wetland treatment upstream to improve water quality within Parramatta River, soften the north bank of Parramatta River with linear planting in response to the northern residential context.
    9. Create a Resilient River: Adopt resilient river initiatives such as introducing telemetry and gauges upstream enabling safe timely evacuation of the river corridor.
    10. Enhance the River Character: Develop a distinct river experience purposely fit to surrounding built and natural environments.

    Artist impressions via The Daily Telegraph

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