Circular Quay is Sydney’s front door and gateway to the greatest harbour in the world and this week I visited the major tourist precinct to announce a $200 million makeover.
The Quay is nestled between two Australian icons, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, but at the moment it’s not realising its full potential.
What we have are some rundown wharves that look out of place for their spectacular location and what we want to do is bring them to life, not just in terms of functionality for ferry users but for everyone to enjoy.
The NSW Government will set aside funds from a new round of asset recycling to upgrade the iconic wharves. The $200 million in funding will be reserved in the NSW Government’s infrastructure fund, Restart NSW, and will be generated by the divestment of some select assets currently held by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) that we don’t consider to be of long term strategic importance.
We have taken the time to review government-owned lands around Sydney Harbour and what we’ve found is a lot of duplication and inefficiency. That has resulted in our decision to consolidate SHFA’s functions to other agencies including Government Property NSW and Destination NSW.
That will mean some of the Authority’s assets will be divested, including the Shangri-La and Four Seasons hotels in the Sydney CBD, the Novotel and Mercure hotels at Darling Harbour and commercial offices at Darling Quarter. There is absolutely no reason in the 21st century why the NSW Government needs to be the landlord for these luxury hotels.
We have also identified a number of non-core government buildings in The Rocks area that may also be suitable for divestment, but this would be subject to a review and potential strengthening of heritage conservation controls.
The Government is currently examining the most appropriate land use planning, heritage, and management framework for The Rocks precinct in consultation with the Commonwealth Government to ensure there will be no loss of heritage through this process.
Circular Quay should be a window to our beautiful harbour, but after years of neglect, this gateway to the city is simply not up to scratch.
A range of options would be considered for Circular Quay, including upgrades to the ferry wharves to make them modern and accessible, all the way through to a complete revamp that could include double-storey wharves with new retail facilities.
We’re working at a rapid pace to deliver Tomorrow’s Sydney and everywhere you look there are cranes in the sky and construction sites in full swing. Circular Quay should be the jewel of Sydney Harbour and today we are committing at least $200 million to make it shine. Construction is expected to begin in 2019.