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New visions for ongoing regeneration of former Sydney submarine base

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has unveiled new visions for the redevelopment of a former submarine base and torpedo factory in North Sydney. HMAS Platypus is currently undergoing stage 1B of a $23.8 million transformation that will see the precinct reopened to the public for the first time in more than 140 years.

The first stage of the redevelopment of HMAS Platypus, designed by architects Lahznimmo and landscape architects Aspect Studios, comprised a new foreshore walk along what was once a submarine wharf and an overwater boardwalk linking the site to Kesterton Park. Opened in May 2018, it now includes a recreation area, barbecues and a submarine-themed playground. The addition of boardwalk means that the HMAS Platypus site is now accessible from the North Sydney Ferry wharf.

The project will eventually see a number of defunct buildings on the site rehabilitated and adapted for use as studios, workshops, exhibitions, performance spaces or fitness facilities.

Impression of the redeveloped Building 2 at HMAS Platypus.

Impression of the redeveloped Building 2 at HMAS Platypus.

Image: courtesy Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

The converted industrial spaces currently on offer for lease range between 120 and 1666 square metres in Building Two, a former submarine school, and Building Ten, the fleet workshops.

Harbour Trust CEO Mary Darwell said, “The leasing program underway at Sub Base Platypus is a chance to investigate the unique future of the site. The Harbour Trust anticipates welcoming new business to Sydney’s newest water front business hub and parkland in late 2019.”

Located in Neutral Bay, in the north of Sydney Harbour, the site was formerly a NSW government gasworks built in 1875 before it was acquired by the federal government in 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbour and converted for use as a torpedo factory and service facility for naval vessels. In 1967 the site was commissioned as a naval base, becoming home to Australia’s newly acquired fleet of six Oberon-class submarines.

In 2015 then-Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, Jamie Briggs, announced that the federal government would fund the Sydney Harbour Trust to reopen the site to the public, following the completion of a six-year-long decontamination and remediation of the site.

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust was established in 1999 to “conserve and preserve former Defense and other special Commonwealth land in the Sydney Harbour region.” While the sites were initially planned to be sold for commercial redevelopment, community backlash resulted in the federal government’s decision to establish the trust, which has a mandate to open the sites up for public use.

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