Oxford Street Sydney Australia

The City of Sydney has announced a draft LGBTIQA+ social and cultural place strategy, intended to strengthen Oxford Street as a centre for the LGBTIQA+ community.

Oxford Street was identified as a key cultural centre within the eastern creative precinct in the City’s 2020 local strategic planning statement. 

In this precinct, City of Sydney will use updated planning controls to encourage cultural uses as a driver of enterprise, a source of job creation and potential for place-making.

This capitalises on existing creative business clusters in the area and local artistic and creative institutions, such as the National Art School and University of New South Wales Art and Design Campus.

Under the City of Sydney’s proposed changes to the precinct’s planning controls, there will be new opportunities for rooftop venues, entertainment spaces, maker spaces, basement clubs, cinemas and activated laneways, and further protection of local heritage buildings and those that celebrate indigenous and LGBTIQA+ culture.

Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the new planning controls will help restore Oxford Street as a thriving cultural destination for businesses, residents, artists and visitors.

“We love Oxford Street. It’s one of our greatest and most-loved streets and we’re committed to building on its reputation as an iconic gay and lesbian and creative precinct, buzzing with activity day and night,” Mayor Moore said.

“In late 2020, we began consulting the community on ways to revitalise Oxford Street while recognising its cultural and community significance. People told us they wanted Oxford Street to be an accessible destination that attracts visitors all year round, with a strong sense of community.

“Overwhelmingly we heard how much people value LGBTIQA+ spaces, venues and businesses, and that they want Oxford Street to continue to be a hub for our LGBTIQA+ communities.

“The tremendous feedback, suggestions and passion from the local community has helped us step beyond building regulations and create an LGBTIQA+ place strategy that will help us prioritise and protect this unique social heritage, beyond what planning alone can deliver.

“It’s estimated the proposed controls could create more than 42,500m2 of employment floor space and 11,000m2 of new creative and cultural floor space along Oxford Street from Greens Road, Paddington to Whitlam Square in Surry Hills.”

The proposed planning controls allow for greater height and floor space while protecting heritage items, public spaces, and architectural character. 

The planning controls will:

  • Retain existing entertainment, creative and cultural floor space
  • Encourage new creative and cultural activity by allowing extra floor space and height on existing buildings and in some cases new buildings, in return for additional cultural and creative space
  • Encourage entertainment venues at basement levels
  • Incentivise repairs, maintenance and upgrades to run-down buildings
  • Protect the fabric, features and structural integrity of heritage items
  • Support the night-time economy
  • Not incentivise residential development to maintain commercial space and reduce conflicts

The proposed controls have been amended in response to heritage and amenity issues raised during community consultation, and will further strengthen the heritage character of the street while incentivising much needed investment, activity and creative and cultural spaces.

The revised planning proposal presents a more tailored approach to the southern side of Oxford Street that has more sensitive, finer grain heritage buildings and some buildings which cause overshadowing.

In response to feedback, 24 contributory buildings, seven heritage items and two heritage items will be excluded, for amenity reasons, from the proposals for additional development.

One shop on the northern side, part of 56-78 Oxford Street above the GA Zink and Sons building, will also be excluded on the recommendation of Heritage New South Wales.

Other changes that address issues raised in submissions include allowing floor space to be distributed across two consolidated sites.

Changes to the draft development control plan will also:

  • Better recognise indigenous connections to Oxford Street and strengthen references to LGBTIQA+ history, culture and identity
  • Encourage retention and provision of new LGBTIQA+ businesses and require diversity and inclusion training for staff of new late-night trading premises
  • Protect significant roofscapes
  • Identify existing cultural and creative space that must be retained
  • Remove a required through-site link from Taylor Street to Oxford Street to protect neighbour amenity
  • Encourage consolidated single building approach to servicing and access in laneways

The full planning proposal is available on the City of Sydney website here.

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