Oxford Street plans to breathe new life into creative economy
New planning rules for Oxford Street will encourage investment and attract new tenants, create more space for creative and cultural activities, and support a long-term vision for a greener street with calmer traffic.
Under the City of Sydney’s proposed changes to the precinct’s planning controls, there will be new opportunities for rooftop venues, entertainment spaces, maker spaces, basement clubs, cinemas and activated laneways, and further protection of local heritage buildings and those that celebrate indigenous and LGBTIQA+ culture.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the new planning controls will help restore Oxford Street as a thriving cultural destination for businesses, residents, artists and visitors.
“We love Oxford Street. It’s one of our greatest and most-loved streets and we’re committed to building on its reputation as an iconic gay and lesbian and creative precinct, buzzing with activity day and night,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“The stars are really aligning to see the famous strip reach its full potential, with greater cultural and creative investment, a new cycleway connection and WorldPride 2023 on the way. These new planning controls are the kickstart Oxford Street needs to cement it as a cultural precinct and boost the local creative-driven economy, while recognising and protecting its unique history.
“In late 2020, we began consulting the community on ways to revitalise Oxford Street while recognising its cultural and community significance. People told us they wanted Oxford Street to be an accessible destination that attracts visitors all year round, with a strong sense of community.
“Businesses told us they want Oxford Street to be welcoming to all people and for us to explore ways to attract more people to the area. The proposed planning changes will allow for new development opportunities to attract private investment and repair and upgrade the building fabric.
“Overwhelmingly we heard how much people value LGBTIQA+ spaces, venues and businesses, and that they want Oxford Street to continue to be a hub for our LGBTIQA+ communities.
“The tremendous feedback, suggestions and passion from the local community has helped us step beyond building regulations and create an LGBTIQA+ place strategy that will help us prioritise and protect this unique social heritage beyond what planning alone can deliver.
“The new planning rules will unlock redevelopment opportunities, encourage investment, stimulate business and activate streets and laneways – all while incentivising the creation of more cultural and entertainment space.
“It’s estimated the proposed controls could create more than 42,500sqm of employment floor space and 11,000sqm of new creative and cultural floor space along Oxford Street from Greens Road, Paddington to Whitlam Square in Surry Hills.”
A draft LGBTIQA+ social and cultural place strategy that will strengthen Oxford Street and its surrounding neighbourhoods as a focal point for LGBTIQA+ community life and culture will go to council to be considered for public consultation.
Oxford Street has been identified as a key cultural centre within the eastern creative precinct in the City’s 2020 local strategic planning statement. In this precinct, the City will use planning controls to encourage cultural uses as a driver of enterprise, a source of job creation and potential for place-making. This capitalises on existing creative business clusters in the area and local artistic and creative institutions, such as the National Art School and UNSW Art and Design Campus.
The proposed planning controls allow for greater height and floor space while protecting heritage items, public spaces, and architectural character. The planning controls will:
- Retain existing entertainment, creative and cultural floor space;
- Encourage new creative and cultural activity by allowing extra floor space and height on existing buildings and in some cases new buildings, in return for additional cultural and creative space;
- Encourage entertainment venues at basement levels;
- Incentivise repairs, maintenance and upgrades to run-down buildings;
- Protect the fabric, features and structural integrity of heritage items;
- Support the night-time economy; and
- Not incentivise residential development to maintain commercial space and reduce conflicts.
The proposed controls have been amended in response to heritage and amenity issues raised during community consultation, and will further strengthen the heritage character of the street while incentivising much needed investment, activity and creative and cultural spaces.
The revised planning proposal presents a more tailored approach to the southern side of Oxford Street that has more sensitive, finer grain heritage buildings and some buildings which cause overshadowing.
In response to feedback, 24 contributory buildings, seven heritage items and two heritage items for amenity reasons will be excluded from the proposals for additional development.
One shop on the northern side, part of 56-78 Oxford Street above the GA Zink and Sons building, will also be excluded on the recommendation of Heritage NSW.
Other changes that address issues raised in submissions include allowing floor space to be distributed across two consolidated sites.
Changes to the draft development control plan will also:
o Better recognise indigenous connections to Oxford Street and strengthen references to LGBTIQA+ history, culture and identity;
o Encourage retention and provision of new LGBTIQA+ businesses and require diversity and inclusion training for staff of new late-night trading premises;
o Protect significant roofscapes;
o Identify existing cultural and creative space that must be retained;
o Remove a required through-site link from Taylor Street to Oxford Street to protect neighbour amenity; and
o Encourage consolidated single building approach to servicing and access in laneways.
The full planning proposal is available on the City of Sydney website.
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