Monday, 7 July 2014

1971: Cronulla's proposed Transport Oriented Development Concept

This took me by surprise when I first saw it because the concept seemed to be ahead of its time. During the 1960's Sutherland Shire Council was encouraging high rise development in Cronulla. In fact they even abolished height limits so as many people as possible could enjoy high rise living but also the views on offer. Everyone was entitled to a view (and why not?) Even the railways wanted people to get the most out of it, they actually proposed a high rise development to be built on top of Cronulla railway station. There were a number of other proposals floating around. Some were built; others were not.For the developer, they would land a 99 year lease, commencing in 1972. Cronulla would also land a modern rail station, a rail station that would have needed a major refurbishment by now.

  cronulla plans january 27 1971 the leader 

Source: Anonymous. 1971. "Improved Styling: Cronulla Rail Station Plans," The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, January 27, 11.

What if this had proceeded?

I love asking the "What If" question as a historian because I love to make a guess as to what I think could have happened based on that evidence.

Obviously the art deco station building would no longer be there and today we would be lamenting its loss heavily. It is a great example of station architecture for that period in Sydney.As mentioned the station would have needed a major upgrade by now.

Eight storey towers would have been quite plausible though the council might have been prepared to consider even taller towers. The station itself is at the top of a ridge which drops down steeply towards Gunnamatta Bay so eight storeys at the top of the ridge would have been commanding. Many of Cronulla's high rises from that period are of that height though there were two towers of about 15 levels constructed. 

As for higher density development in Cronulla, I think current perceptions towards restricting highrise development would have remained the same. What about higher densities in Cronulla? Three unit walk up blocks of units that were built up during the 1960's and 1970's in streets like Laycock Avenue, Cronulla Street and Nicholson Parade would still be here. They would still be there but I think Sutherland Council's current eight storey height limit would be tolerated around there. Tonkin Street might have some midrise unit blocks but the Sutherland Shire Local Environment Plan in its current form would have allowed it.

Some change would have occurred but not as drastic as some may think.