The Walsh Bay Arts Precinct project has finally received planning approval from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment following detailed discussions with existing commercial tenants and arts bodies in the area. Approval for the project had been delayed following a court ruling last year in favour of a local restaurant owner who had objected to the proposal.
The proposed Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, which covers the waterfront area between the Harbour Bridge and Barangaroo has now been approved for development. With a budget of over $200 million, the redevelopment will encompass the refurbishment of performance, production and rehearsal spaces for some of Australia’s leading performing arts companies including the Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Dance Company, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australian Theatre for Young People, Gondwana Choir, Sydney Philharmonia Choir and The Song Company.
The scope of the redevelopment also covers Pier 2/3, which will become the new home of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Bell Shakespeare, as well as a large heritage commercial space, which will host events such as the Sydney Writers' Festival and the Sydney Biennale.
The negotiations between the government and the commercial tenants addressed all concerns about outdoor performances, crowds, traffic and public transport.
According to Walsh Bay Arts Chamber of Commerce head, Brigid Kennedy, and also the local restaurant owner who challenged the project, the local tenants had received assurances from Arts minister, Don Harwin that they would be consulted on the project going forward.
Harwin believes that the world-class arts precinct would transform Sydney into an internationally-renowned art and cultural destination.
Following the delay in approval, the arts precinct will now open in 2020 instead of 2019 as earlier planned.