Former naval site at Sydney Harbour to be redeveloped as public spaces

Former naval site at Sydney Harbour to be redeveloped as public spaces
Former naval site at Sydney Harbour to be redeveloped as public spaces

A former naval site on the Sydney Harbour has been unveiled to the public, after being out of bounds for 150 years to Sydneysiders.

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has launched a national campaign aimed at opening up the former HMAS Platypus site — part of Australia’s maritime history — to the public and re-launching the site as Sub Base Platypus. 

The former submarine workshops will be revitalised to provide terraces, streets, squares and gardens for public by the waterfront, along with retail spaces such as cafes and shops.

The Harbour Trust, which looks after historical sites on the Sydney Harbour, has called for expressions of interest to turn the 1.8 hectare site into a cultural, community and commercial hub, according to a media release. The campaign closes on October 31.

Parts of the site will be opened to the public from mid 2018, with the bulk of the work on the buildings expected to proceed over the next two years. 

While unveiling the campaign, the Federal MP for North Sydney, Trent Zimmerman, said he was pleased to see one of the Harbour’s most important historical and industrial locations opened up to the public after 150 years. 

“Under its legislation, the Harbour Trust has a responsibility to ensure the site is opened up to the public and to contribute to its further protection, which is why the Government is happy to support this call for cultural, community and commercial groups to become part of the Sub Base Platypus story,”  Zimmermann said. 

The Chair of the Harbour Trust’s Board, Kevin McCann, said the while the industrial heritage values of the buildings will be retained, the buildings and public spaces will be adapted for the public recreation and the revenue raised would be invested back into the parklands.

The site has a lettable area of 12,000 sqm with spaces available ranging from 35 sqm through to the Torpedo factory, at 6,630 sqm. 

The Torpedo Factory is the largest building on site with three floors. At the height of the wartime production, the factory employed 200 civilian workers.

“Once completed, we will see Sub Base Platypus become a special destination for Sydneysiders and visitors alike, providing a range of facilities and venues for cultural performances, function areas, cafes and restaurants, as well as offices and commercial spaces,” said chief executive of the Harbour Trust, Mary Darwell. 

The site is Cammeraygal Country and was once a gasworks providing gas for street lights, homes and businesses on the North Shore of Sydney. As part of the war effort, the site was resumed by the Commonwealth Government in 1942 and became a torpedo manufacturing and maintenance factory as well as a service facility for the naval vessels of the Pacific Fleet. 

In 1967 the site was commissioned as the base for the Royal Australian Navy’s Oberon-class submarines and was named HMAS Platypus. The submarine base was closed in 1998 and the asset was transferred to the Harbour Trust in 2005.

Sydney Harbour Historic Site

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