Plans for ‘mini central park’ to south of Wollongong CBD

'Mini central park': An artist's impression of how the edge of MacCabe Park could look according to the council's future vision.
'Mini central park': An artist's impression of how the edge of MacCabe Park could look according to the council's future vision.

Like south of Houston (Soho), north of Little Italy (Nolita) and the triangle below Canal (Tribeca), Wollongong could soon have its very own New York-style city precinct, complete with a “mini Central Park”.

Perhaps to be dubbed Sobu (south of Burelli) – or maybe Sowo? – the future South Wollongong could have taller buildings, a green pedestrian belt and would be focused around a revitalised MacCabe Park, according to a new Wollongong City Council plan.

The council has this week unveiled a “future strategy” for the city area which is bounded by the railway line, port, ocean and Stewart Street.

In a document now open for public comment, the council says South Wollongong is home to more than 3100 people. Almost half of them (48 per cent) live alone, 40 per cent are renters and 46 per cent are workers.

Between now and the end of 2017, the council plans to spend nearly $200,000 to develop a future vision for the area. It hopes to boost housing choice, develop several distinct precincts and make the area better connected and safer for pedestrians.

The council also says the strategy will focus on “best practice flood resilient design” in an effort to overcome problems with frequent flooding and risks associated with sea-level rise.

The council has suggested low lying land between Beach and Swan Streets could be rezoned as “environmental living” to stop future development from intensifying these flood risks.

In MacCabe Park – which links Wollongong’s CBD with South Wollongong – the council has proposed to adjust its development controls to promote “an improved public domain interface” and “create a mini central park”.

Along the western side of the park,  the council hopes to encourage more residential development in the rapidly changing area.

This could be done by rezoning land immediately fronting MacCabe Park (along Keira Street) to allow apartment buildings with commercial or retail premises at their lower levels. 

The council has also proposed that building on either side of the park continue to be restricted to 24 metres (roughly seven or eight storeys) to “promote a sense of enclosure”.

The council said it would complete the park’s long-awaited master plan – which has been in the works since at least 2011 – in the next four to 10 years.

The council is now seeking feedback on its planned direction for South Wollongong, which is open for comment online until May 24.

It will hold a kiosk in Crown Street Mall on April 29, as well as an public session from 5.30-7pm on May 3 at council’s headquarters.

Precinct plans, better access

Among some of the options being considered for the future of South Wollongong, the council has laid out plans to develop a number of “precincts” and improve access.

Ellen Street Precinct

Directly to the west of MacCabe Park, next to the railway line, the Ellen Street Precinct would “protect and foster employment”.

In the medium term, the council has flagged a possible change to allow taller buildings. 

Glebe Street Precinct

Located between Stewart, Church, Corrimal and Glebe Streets, the council has earmarked this precinct for aged care development.

Over the next decade, the council said it hoped to investigate installing a “green belt” along Bank Street to improve access for pedestrians.

A foot crossing at Corrimal Street could also be considered to link the southern city with the Blue Mile.

Access and movement

The council is considering more traffic controls and pedestrian crossings to link the city with Wollongong’s foreshore.

Improved cycle and walking paths along Church Street as also flagged.