An ambitious new project, announced last week by the NSW government, aims to develop about one million square metres of "dead space" in Sydney's CBD and renew the railway line corridor between Central Station and Eveleigh.

Planning Minister Brad Hazzard noted the three-kilometre area, which stretches from Sydney’s CBD to Macdonaldtown train station and consists of rail lines, large open park areas and the Australian Technology Park, fails to connect a vital part of the city.

He described the present infrastructure in the area as the “Berlin Wall” of Sydney.

“What we have is an opportunity for that greater connectedness between the Redfern community side of the railway line and the Surry Hills side,” he said.

The plan includes the construction of seven new major bike paths, six high density neighbourhoods, the Australian Technology Park and high-rises over rail lines at Central and Redfern stations.

The government emphasized the fact that similar models have been successfully implemented in New York, Paris and London, where office, retail and apartment buildings were built over train stations using innovative technology.

Sydney Central Station Aerial View

Aerial view of Sydney Central Station.

“There are only three crossings over the rail lines but building above the corridor will allow more crossings to unite Redfern and Ultimo,” Hazzard said.

The plan is based on the Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney, released in March, which highlights the need for 114,000 news jobs and thousands of new homes in Sydney.

“The draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney is a blueprint for balanced and sustainable growth for Sydney, with both renewal in established suburbs, and greenfield development,” Hazzard said when launching the plan. “People living and working in Sydney are at the heart of this Strategy. What you told us throughout the consultation process underpins much of the Strategy – housing choice, affordable housing close to jobs and services, good transport connections and a healthy and sustainable environment.”

Sydney Central Station Concept

Left: Sydney Central Station as it is – Right: concept plans showing high-rise buildings over Central station platforms and the redevelopment of the west area.

The new proposal would provide thousands of employment opportunities, retail, housing and more open space while retaining and enhancing key heritage buildings such as Central Station and Mortuary Station.

The Planning Minister said the vision would reinvigorate Sydney’s “dead heart” and called on developers, urban designers and architects from Australia and around the world to present their ideas for the renewal master plan.

The multi-billion dollar renewal project is expected to drum up significant interest from firms as it presents an engineering and redevelopment challenge the likes of which has not existed in Sydney for decades.