Thursday, August 28, 2008


Poles apart on old versus new

Wendy Frew Urban Affairs Editor, smh

August 28, 2008

WHEN the State Government dedicated a small chunk of Sydney to Jack Mundey last year, it was considered a fitting tribute to the leader of the 1970s green bans, who saved so much of Sydney's historic areas from developers.

The man himself would have preferred the area be dubbed Green Ban Place "because it is symbolic of the wonderful period when the enlightened middle class joined with the working class to protect Sydney", he said yesterday.

But changes being made to Jack Mundey Place, one small block in the Rocks bordered by Argyle, George and Harrington streets, has raised the ire of some residents.

The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, which controls The Rocks, is repaving the intersection, creating a "shared zone" for pedestrians and traffic, and replacing the discreet, faux art nouveau street lights with so-called smart poles that carry lights and banners.

A businessman, Julian Canny, said the new street lights were out of character with the heritage suburb. "I think it totally detracts from the idea of The Rocks and what it used to be like," he said. He added that allowing even some traffic through the intersection sabotaged the idea of creating a pedestrian space.

"It could be even more dangerous for pedestrians because they might think it is a traffic-free zone," he said.

A spokeswoman for the authority, Angela Fiumara, said Argyle Street was a very popular pedestrian area, particularly at night, and the multi-functional poles would improve lighting and ensure safety.

"They will also minimise energy consumption and improve ongoing maintenance," Ms Fiumara said, and could support road signs, precinct signs and CCTV cameras when necessary.

"The authority is installing 19 new street lights along Argyle Street, in association with the creation of Jack Mundey Place.

"The lights previously located along Argyle Street did not comply with current Australian lighting standards, were inefficient and were difficult to maintain due to the variety of fittings."

She said the authority would not be replacing the Victorian-style lighting poles along George Street.

Mr Mundey has not seen the changes to the street lighting but he had supported the traffic changes.

"Anything that limits traffic and encourages either public transport or pedestrians is a good thing," he said.