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10 developments that'll change the face of Sydney by 2027
Written by
Emma Joyce

Melbourne may have been named the most liveable city for the seventh year in the row, but let’s not get hung up on the past. Who knows? Maybe Sydney will improve its ranking in the next decade. We’ve picked out ten upcoming building sites that’ll shape the way we live, commute and play by 2027.

1. Walsh Bay Renewal Project

Artist impression of the Bar at the End of the Wharf
Artist impression of the Bar at the End of the Wharf redevelopment
Image: Sydney Theatre Company

What is it? A world-class hub for performing arts

When will it exist? 2019, but opposition from local businesses may delay the project

Imagine watching a performance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and having the view of the Harbour Bridge behind the musicians. That dream could become a reality when the $207 million renewal gets the green light (for a second time). In April this year, the project to redevelop the arts and cultural centres at Walsh Bay – specifically Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5 – was awarded an additional $68 million in funding. However, by June the project suffered a major setback with opposition from a local restaurant (who feared the two-year construction period would slow trade). As it stands, Sydney Theatre Company and the Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf will close for business midway through 2018 in order to overhaul the performance and hospitality spaces on Wharf 4/5. Over at Pier 2/3, the plan is to build balconies, raise the roof and glaze the sliding cargo doors. This wharf will become the new home of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Bell Shakespeare and Australian Theatre for Young People. And there’s a plan to link the decks between the two wharves to create a social area for the anticipated two million visitors to Walsh Bay each year. The proposed refurb is STC’s first significant upgrade in 30 years, which will include two new accessible public entries and modernised theatres with flexible seating configurations. (Don’t panic! Roslyn Packer Theatre will remain open throughout construction.) For Bangarra Dance Theatre, the update means new glazed doors and an improved entrance. For Sydney Dance Company, they’ll get a better café and new dance studio.

2. Sydney Fish Markets 2.0

Artist impression of Sydney Fish Market
The rejuvenated Fish Markets would include decked-out dining areas on the foreshore
Image: 3XN Architects

What is it? A pimped up Fish Markets, twice the size and just as fresh

When will it exist? 2020

Sydney Fish Market has been in operation at Blackwattle Bay since 1966 – and it’s long due a facelift. Earlier this year, Danish firm 3XN Architects came on board as the designers for the $250-million renovation. The plan is to build a new 35,000m2 market (twice its current size) adjacent to the current site – a space currently occupied by a concrete supplier. The rejuvenated Fish Markets would include decked-out dining areas on the foreshore with a capacity for 3,000 patrons; there’ll be public boardwalks, a sizzling hot Sydney Seafood School, an improved wholesale market with auctions open to the public; and possibly a rooftop bar. They’re shady on the details for that one. No doubt the fresh new look will attract even more tourists to Pyrmont: Sydney Fish Markets already receive three million visitors every year, and UrbanGrowth NSW (the developers behind the Bays Precinct Development) says the new markets would have the facilities to receive twice that number. Oh boy! Construction is due to begin later this year and they reckon the ribbon will be ready to cut by 2020.

3. Sydney Modern

Artist impression of Sydney Modern
In progress image of Sydney Modern Project, atrium, featuring artworks: Michael Parekowhai The English Channel 2015; Ugo Rondinone clockwork for oracles 2010; Rusty Peters Waterbrain 2002; Emily Floyd Kesh alphabet 2017; Xu Bing Phoenix 2010; Mabel Juli Garnkiny Ngarrangkarni 2006; Freddie Timms Jack Yard 2004.
Image: AGNSW 2017

What is it? A major expansion for the Art Gallery of New South Wales

When will it exist? 2021, on the 150th anniversary of its founding

Sydney Modern’ is the working title for the new museum space at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The project will double the floor space of the existing Gallery and it’s hoped the $244-million expansion will bring the venue in line with the world’s greatest art museums – not only to rival Australian cultural institutions, but also worldwide. Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA, (whose portfolio includes the Louvre-Lens in France and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan) are designing the building, which will stretch across underutilised land to the north of the existing building, plus over-and-around two disused World War II oil tanks and over the Eastern Distributor. They’re working on designs for a grand entrance, additional dining spaces, a rooftop garden and – vitally – more space to display the gallery’s $1.3 billion collection. Best of all, they’re promising to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art front-and-centre, lifting it out of the basement and into the prominent position it deserves. The Gallery currently sees 1.3 million visitors per year, and so, dialling up its tech is a priority, too – as is better tools for its non-English speaking guests. Construction is likely to begin in 2019.

4. Joynton Avenue Creative Centre

Artist impression of Joynton Avenue Creative Centre
You can expect to see makers’ studios, hot desks and wellness rooms
Image: City of Sydney

What is it? A community space in the centre of Green Square

When will it exist? November 2017

The City of Sydney is calling Green Square a new town centre – the first to be constructed in 100 years – and they’re predicting the new hub will house up to 61,000 people by 2030. They’re spending $18 million to develop a new urban community, which sits four kilometres from the CBD and Sydney airport. At the heart of the 278-hectare development will be a new cultural precinct and community centre operated by 107 Projects. What was once the Esme Cahill Building will become the Joynton Avenue Creative Centre where you can expect to see makers’ studios, hot desks and wellness rooms. The Redfern-based collective will run the day-to-day management of the three-storey property that was once the nurses’ quarters of the former South Sydney Hospital. They’re sifting through applications from start-ups and creative workers who’d like to take up residence in one of the elegant office spaces constructed in the old bedrooms. The Matron’s Lawn will be given new life as a covered outdoor area for fitness activities like Tai Chi or yoga. Like Redfern’s existing 107 Projects, the new space will offer free exhibitions and quiet areas where visitors can chill out or meeting for coffee. Joynton Avenue is already under construction and, fingers crossed, it’ll be open to the public later this year.

5. The Creative Learning Centre

Artist impression of the Creative Learning Centre
Little critics will have the best views in the house
Image: Sydney Opera House

What is it? The Opera House’s first dedicated space for children

When will it exist? Unknown

Sydney’s most iconic building is currently undergoing the first stages of a $273-million refurb. The first upgrade will be a shiny-new Joan Sutherland Theatre, which has tradies on the job right now, and future updates include more accessible foyers and entrances, a better sounding Concert Hall and better looking function centre. But the most exciting addition to the House is a permanent space for kids and teens. The Creative Learning Centre, situated on the ground floor of the building’s northwestern corner (near the Studio and Playhouse), will have the best views in Sydney. They’re kicking out the lawyers and accountants to make way for a flexible learning space that champions creativity and innovation. Children aged five and up will be able to play and interact with artists and performers, take part in workshops and even create their own broadcasts in the digital classroom. The space will be used by school students from Punchbowl to the Pilbara, but there’ll also be weekend programming for families. The project is part of the biggest upgrade to the Opera House since it opened in ’73, however they’re yet to put a date on construction.

6. Sydney Park Skate Space

Artist impression of Sydney Skate Park
If it’s approved, we’ll have to wait two years before it’s ready to roll
Image: City of Sydney

What is it? A new grinder’s playground

When will it exist? Mid-2019

City of Sydney tells us there are 56,000 skateboarders living within a 20-kilometre radius of St Peters. That sounds like a lot – so perhaps it’s no surprise that one of the big projects on the Lord Mayor’s checklist is a skate plaza within the 44-hectare parklands. The project, which has completed the public consultation phase, is set to become the biggest skatepark in Sydney. Demand for more skate, scooter and BMX spaces was so high that the council is working to bring a 1-3m-deep flow bowl to the park as a matter of kick-flippin’ urgency. The plans include building three key zones: the Traditional Park, which will have continuous runs for all skill levels; the Lineal Plaza Run that’ll focus on low level obstacles; and the Beginners Bowl – that’ll do exactly what it says on the tin. The Skate Space will sit next to the existing children’s cycle track. If it’s approved, we’ll have to wait two years before it’s ready to roll.

7. The Paper Mill

Artist impression of the Paper Mill
The $7-billion development is reinventing the Liverpool Paper Mill
Image: Coronation Property

What is it? Tramsheds for Greater Western Sydney

When will it exist? End of 2017

The apartments connected to this new residential hub are already on Domain for upwards of half a million bucks, but it’s not nesting that piques our interest – it’s the promise of new food and booze outlets within the sawtooth roofs of the former mill. The $7-billion development is reinventing the Liverpool Paper Mill (which closed in 1905 and made way for a wool factory till the ’70s) by creating three housing groups: the Foundry, the Bindery and the Gild, which all appear to be getting rooftop pools! It’s rising up on the banks of Georges River, approximately ten minutes from Liverpool train station (and one stop from Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre). And though the retailers are yet to be confirmed, the developers have pegged 1,400m2 for open-air dining, community gardens, farmers’ markets, cafés and shops. It’s due to open by the end of 2017 – one year ahead of the completion date for similar residential/retail hub the Flour Mill in Summer Hill, who’ve confirmed their first retail partner, the Farm Wholefoods.

8. MAAS Project Parramatta

Unofficial artist impression with emoji
There's no official artist impression for this development... so we made one!
Image: Coral Chum

What is it? A riverside museum in Parramatta

When will it exist? It’s expected to open in 2022

It’s estimated Parramatta’s population will have doubled by 2036, which means there needs to be significant investment in the area’s arts and culture venues. One of the developments in the works is the new Powerhouse Museum. There’s no official name yet, or official design, but the building would become the fourth venue for the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS). Earlier this year, NSW Government reached an agreement with Parramatta Council on the riverside location – and they’ve committed $140 million to the project, which includes updating Riverside Theatres, making the riverside something of a cultural precinct for Western Sydney. Parramatta’s Powerhouse Museum is still in the consultation phase, however, the original Ultimo location isn’t packing up just yet: the site will remain operational until at least 2020. It’s a win for Parramatta residents who can expect an injection of $40 million cash into arts and culture programming over the next 20 years, including world-class exhibitions and performances.

9. Sydney Metro

Sydney Metro artist impression
Artist impression of train travelling over Windsor Bridge
Image: Transport for NSW

What is it? The tube! A skyline! Underwater tunnels!

When will it exist? 2024

Getting around the Emerald City will look a whole lot different in a decade. Firstly, we’ll have a second airport in Badgerys Creek (due by 2026), the Light Rail will be transporting us along George Street, up Devonshire Street and down Anzac Parade (by 2019), and eventually from Strathfield to Westmead (by 2023). This means that by the time Beyoncé’s twins are school age we’ll have a fully operational 15-minute express route between Parramatta and the CBD (mostly underground). Sydney Metro is a complicated beast that’s set to bring fast, reliable train services every four minutes during peak times. They’re throwing out the need for timetables, and chucking in an extra 31 stations over 66 kilometres of rail. Services start as early as 2019 on the North West route, including an elevated skytrain at Rouse Hill. Passengers waiting for the underwater track from Chatswood to the city will have to wait till 2024, as will those wanting to zip underground from Martin Place to Barangaroo in two minutes flat. The most controversial plans include suburban platforms at Central Station (expected to take three years to build), the pencilled-in stations for the Inner West (not enough/too many) and reports that the project is billions of dollars over budget.

10. Sydney Harbour High Line

The proposed route for the Sydney Harbour High Line
The proposed route for the Sydney Harbour High Line
Image: Sydney Harbour High Line

What is it? The Lower North Shore’s answer to the New York High Line

When will it exist? They’re yet to submit a development application… so, not soon

Before the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built, there was an active railway line that ran from Waterton Station to Luna Park. Today, that train track is heritage listed and its trail traverses the beautifully secluded Wendy’s Secret Garden. Since 2016, there’s been a dedicated committee of Lavender Bay residents backing a proposal to turn the partly disused line into a copycat version of New York’s successful walkway, the High Line. It also has the backing of federal and state government members, including premier Gladys Berejiklian. The vision is for the heritage tracks to be preserved while creating a new cycle and pedestrian route that overlooks Sydney harbour. Aside from the impressive views, the committee is peddling the proposed track as a tourist walkway, taking visitors through Harry’s Park (the green space developed by Penelope Seidler in honour of her late husband) to maritime history sites like Sawmillers Reserve and Coal Loader, as well as to Indigenous rock carvings found at Balls Head (including whale, a fish and hand prints). The area’s commercial potential continues to haunt the project, but NSW Government has promised the land will remain public.

The future is now

Forget the hoverboard. Try these transport upgrades today…

Icon of a bike

Bike sharing

You can download an app and ride these bikes around Sydney by the hour. Reddy Go and oBike are two current bike-share operators in Sydney. Simply download the app, reserve a bike, scan the QR code and ride! Both Reddy Go and oBike are dockless cycles and they operate in a similar way. Both companies charge $1.99 for 30 minutes.

Icon of a bus

On-demand buses

From October 2017, Sydney suburbs will be trialling a new bus service that responds to your needs. People living in the Northern Beaches, Sutherland Shire, Eastern Suburbs and Manly will be able to use an app to book a bus ride to the nearest train station. Mini buses will operate in a 15 kilometre radius from major transport hubs or shopping centres. One-way trips are likely to cost $2.60-$5.

But wait, there's more... 

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