Sale drives innovation in the digital era
26th April, 2016
Author: UrbanGrowth NSW
The NSW Government has finalised the sale of Australian Technology Park (ATP) in a strategic move that will help catalyse innovation around a site that first embraced industries of the future more than 100 years ago.
ATP’s sale to a Mirvac-led consortium is a move that will fund and drive urban transformation in the inner city, and foster new industries that will underpin the digital revolution.
In 1882, construction began on the ATP site—then the Eveleigh Railway Workshops—for what would be the centre of locomotive manufacture and maintenance in Sydney until 1989. The site has gone through several iterations, including briefly serving as the site for Paddy’s Market, before the creation of ATP in 1991. This coincided with substantial redevelopment of the site before ownership was transferred to the NSW Government in 2000.
Since the government acquired ATP it has devoted much time and effort to preserving its unique heritage aspects, while at the same time removing barriers to investment to stimulate future growth. ATP has thus become a key feature of the local community, while also providing a much needed ecosystem for innovative enterprise and business.
Recently the NSW Government decided that it was in the best interests of ATP to move out of ownership. In the time we owned it, the government and UrbanGrowth NSW have unlocked the site and added value, but the opportunity now exists for the private sector to take it to the next level, driving new improvements, enticing new tenants, and completing the park.
Innovation needs a home in Sydney, and we see it as being much more than just one site. Innovation in Sydney will stretch in a series of clusters from ATP in the inner east, to the White Bay Power Station in the inner north, running along the western fringe of Sydney’s CBD. These clusters will even extend even further as we leverage potential innovation outcomes in Western Sydney locations, including Westmead.
Research by the Brookings Institute in 2014 found that innovation is best generated by districts that cluster and connect ideas, industries, and individuals. We believe that this corridor will provide the perfect climate for such a district, creating an ecosystem for ideas to grow and flourish, and attracting investment and international opportunities.
As part of Sydney’s emerging innovation clusters, ATP will be key to UrbanGrowth NSW’s Central to Eveleigh urban transformation strategy, a bold plan that seeks to foster new industries and new ways of living in our city, and connect areas with knowledge-intensive businesses and jobs. It also provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to rejuvenate this CBD fringe area through new housing, facilities, adaptively re-used heritage spaces, and green public domain.
ATP will become a base for fintech, biotech, and digital industries, including an accelerator for commercialisation through the existing technology business incubator ATP Innovations. The Commonwealth Bank as a major tenant also offers further opportunities for the promotion and adoption of new fintech technologies.
Importantly, the sale of ATP excludes residential development at the site, and public positive covenants attached to the title will help protect the site’s significant heritage value, as well as the right of public access through it. The covenants bind Mirvac, or any future owner, to the same standards as a government agency as landowner.
With ATP anchoring the southeast of Sydney’s innovation cluster, to the northwest sits the White Bay Power Station, one of eight destinations in The Bays Precinct. This heritage site has been earmarked by the Premier as the centrepiece of a new technology hub that will drive innovation and provide a focal point for the information and computing technology industry. It is envisioned as a site for major global tenants and large scale research.
Between these two key sites lies a collection of industry hubs, including medical facilities at RPA, educational institutions at UTS and University of Sydney, and the theatre precinct. There is also the long standing presence of creative digital, design, media and cultural enterprises through the Ultimo, Chippendale, Pyrmont and Redfern-Eveleigh-Darlington areas. The NSW Government hopes to be able to leverage and build upon this creative environment, through UrbanGrowth NSW.
From the Central to Eveleigh corridor to The Bays Precinct, the creation of a mix of connected spaces will provide the flexibility and resilience required to support NSW’s economy and Sydney’s position on the global stage. This innovation cluster could serve industry growth for the next 50 years or more, with space of at least 500,000m2 available.
Importantly, the entire area will be so much more than an employment district. Mixing in cultural enterprises, varied residential accommodation, entertainment and other creative industries, it will create the sort of urban fabric that is critical for true global cities to thrive and prosper.
Yet it will also be essentially Sydney, anchored with iconic heritage buildings, and formed around existing neighbourhoods, businesses and industry. This is about building on the distinctive character of the area that is much loved by Sydneysiders.
Sydney is a unique and beautiful city, and undeniably one in which people want to live. People are the most valuable commodity in enterprise today, and smart businesses are locating themselves where the best employees want to be.
The evolution of the innovation cluster, as well as broader works across Sydney, will help cement our city’s identity as a world class destination, and attract the creative and varied minds that will drive the innovative industries of the future.
Innovation will underpin the continued success of our city, and the steps we take today will help ensure we achieve the best possible outcomes. True to its history, ATP will be a vital part of this, fostering the technologies and industries of the future in Sydney.