A 2016 Australian Urban Design Award has been won for the Turramurra Community Hub by CROFI, supported by Ku-ring-gai Council.
The Award category Urban Design, Policies, Programs and Concepts means the challenge is to fit a single precinct into an integrated village scheme of four precincts in Turramurra. Why is this important? The village has a significant Hillview Heritage Conservation Area, not seen in any other Local Government Area in the North District.
The Hillview HCA is a gift for the Greater Sydney Commission’s North District. Importantly the Little Village Park – the last of the Public Lands in the Ray Street precinct – is the link between the four precincts and curtilage for the original railway station and critical village view-line to the Hillview HCA. It should remain protected from even more development.
The Australian Urban Design Award jury citation echoes this: ‘The masterplan proposes a compact village centre retaining public ownership to the public spaces.’
This piece of public land is not “under-utilized”. For functional, historic and traffic reasons the four precincts should have been planned together in ways complementary to each other and the Little Village Park as the link. This is the true value of the park.
The aerial view of the Community Hub famously shows a forest of green surrounding the winning precinct. What is not seen, is the extent of the original Blue Gum High Forest lost to development just a stone’s throw from the Hub. This significant habitat loss for the future city’s rare, urban wildlife would be repeated if the deep-soil park were to be flogged off.
The Community of Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment has been trying to link the jewel in the crown of Public Lands, Sheldon Forest, to the built heritage around Turramurra Station. A masterplan for adaptive re-use and re-development of ALL Turramurra’s four precincts into a unique Turramurra Village, held together by a Heritage Conservation Area and Walk.
In planning density for Sydney’s most highly environmentally sensitive suburbs – the land use planning system has misjudged the rarity of Blue Gum High Forest and zoned recreation in Sheldon Forest. Public Land’s value to urban biodiversity conservation for the future city of Sydney is in bad need of being updated.
Adaptive reuse, stylishly restoration and conservation-value progress in traditional and urban forest settings, is sorely needed. The Little Village Park is the link to all of these and complements the Community Garden also on the Pacific Highway, providing a “not-seen-elsewhere” local character,
_____________________________________________________________________FOKE is a community group which proudly promotes the natural, built and cultural heritage of Ku ring gai. For more information visit www.foke.org.au.