Sydney’s CBD gets “ambitious” makeover to drive footfall

The NSW Government has announced an “ambitious” plan to build a retail and office precinct over the Central Station rail yard in Sydney, with retailers hailing efforts to revive the CBD’s footfall.

The Sydney Central Station masterplan is expected to deliver a retail, dining and residential destination, with a public square and parks, office space and new connections to the city.

National Retail Association (NRA) chief executive Dominique Lamb said the precinct was an opportunity for NSW businesses, workers and consumers to put the pandemic behind them.

“The city-shaping vision for Central Station will hugely revitalize CBD businesses by increasing consumer shopping behavior and pushing people into their offices,” Lamb said.

“It’s hard to shake the work-from-home mentality we’ve become accustomed to over the last couple of years, but we need to move forward and motivate people to get back into their offices and back into the CBD.

“The initiative will increase productivity, reduce anti-social work behaviors induced during the pandemic, as well as increase economic prospects.”

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government’s vision for the central station was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity”.

“This proposal will be another significant investment in the future of Sydney’s CBD,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Our vision will make the central precinct a must-see part of our city for locals and national and international tourists alike.

“It will be a major project that will generate jobs and inject more local and global business investment into Sydney’s CBD.”

Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes said the vision would expand the southern CBD and use Sydney’s transport assets to shape almost 24 hectares of empty space.

“This proposal will heal parts of our city that have been broken since the railroad split Surry Hills from Ultimo in 1874,” Stokes said.

“The proposal includes multiple new rail connections, including the Devonshire Street Bridge, to improve pedestrian and cycle access through the central precinct and into the surrounding neighbourhoods.

“The masterplan celebrates the precinct’s heritage while providing a large new public plaza, three new parks, a new community, social service centers, as well as at least 30 percent affordable and diverse housing to better meet the needs of all sections of the neighborhood. community”.

The flagship plan comes as businesses across Australia notice an increase in foot traffic in Australia’s CBDs, particularly the hardest-hit Sydney and Melbourne CBDs, which faced lockdowns due to the pandemic.

Super Retail Group, Rebel’s parent company, saw a recovery in foot traffic in the CBD and major shopping centres. This supported Rebel’s 0.5% comparable sales growth in the second half of the year.

Super Retail Group managing director Anthony Heraghty said bricks and mortar stores remained a key driver of sales and traffic.

“The value of our store network was further demonstrated in FY22, even as online sales increased to a record 17 percent of sales,” he noted in the annual report of the fiscal year 22.

“Our store network remains central to our customers’ shopping preferences. More than nine out of ten transactions involved our store network, either through over-the-counter sales or Click & Collect.”

The main features of the indicative master plan for the central station include:

~15 new buildings from 4 to 34 storeys for a variety of uses including technology and office space, hotels and residential, bars, restaurants and cafes, educational, community and cultural uses.

> 60,000 square meters (just over six football pitches) of public domain including parks, squares, squares, including Central Square, Central Green and Mortuary Station Garden.

~850 new homes, including 15 percent affordable housing and an additional target of 15 percent diverse housing such as rental housing and student housing.

A rezoning package to enable the transformation of the Central site is now on public display.

The community will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal from August 22 to September 19.

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