In 1900, Pyrmont was an important port and industrial area, with a population of almost 30 000 people. There was a wide range of industries and services present including wharves, dockyards, warehouses, abattoirs, wool stores, railway yards and even an incinerator for the disposal of Sydney’s waste. It was deemed a working-class suburb with a predominantly Irish/Catholic population. As the income for Pyrmont was only modest, semi-detached cottages were the most common type of housing present.
In the 1960’s however, Pyrmont-Ultimo was deteriorating at a fast rate and became an unfortunate example of urban decay. The government policy of decentralisation, which is having industries move away from the centre of the city, was having an extreme impact on the suburb’s population. This suburbanisation was caused due to congestion, obsolete plants, an ageing infrastructure, high cost of land and the limited scope for expansion. The railway goods yards were relocated to Chullora when Darling Harbour was redeveloped in the 1970’s and the wool stores moved to Yennora. As there was no longer enough employment for the working class society, the population of Pyrmont-Ultimo declined dramatically which resulted in a reduction in industry. A steady deterioration of services and amenities soon followed with factories and warehouses becoming abandoned and decayed. Another negative impact of this urban decay was the dereliction of the wharves, once central to the industry of the suburb. As there was no public access granted, the wharves were no longer put to good use and became dilapidated.
Finally in 1991, the federal government initiated a ‘Better Cities Program’ which aimed to make Australian cities sustainable and more liveable. It encouraged partnership arrangements among the three tiers of government, the private sector and the community. The major objectives were to improve the economic efficiency, social equity and environmental sustainability of Australia’s cities and Pyrmont-Ultimo was a targeted suburb for urban renewal. There were several areas that the program aimed to improve including housing, transport, public parks or open spaces and protection of the environment.
Prior to urban renewal, Pyrmont-Ultimo had residents with similar incomes. However to achieve the goal of social equity plans were made for a mixed, high-density, medium-rise residential area. Approximately 7500 new dwellings have been constructed plus the renovation of 1400 existing dwellings. The aim was to cater for all household types such as families, couples and singles, provide affordable housing for middle to low income earners, provide residential dwellings with waterfront access and with water and city views, protect existing housing, retain a socially diverse residential population which includes all income groups, provide opportunities to live close to places of work and to create a high quality urban environment. The provision of affordable or public...