We are pleased to confirm that the NSW Government has made a commitment (and has presumably implemented this commitment) to cancel the oversized marina proposal which has been resisted by the community for more than a decade. It should be added that the Government’s decision appears to have been driven mainly by a desire to free up this area of the Bay and the associated shore areas so that they can be used for construction of the Western Harbour Tunnel. (See article below)

Irrespective of motive, the understanding we have now been given by our local Member is that the current marina proposal and associated lease rights are dead, buried and cremated (to quote a well known member of the same party).

Further, following use of the area for construction of the tunnel, the lands and waters will be handed over to uses which are yet to be defined but have been promised to reflect the will of the community. Whilst this sounds good, given that a week is a long time in politics, several years is an eternity, so it is the intention of the SBB Committee to work towards a better definition of the outcome and move to an agreement which cannot be tossed aside by future politicians or bureaucrats.


With the re-election of the Liberal Coalition Government, the commitment to this project now appears to have hardened. Whilst preliminary engineering studies are still progressing, it appears that the design is based around a buried tube concept for the crossing to Birchgrove. This will be rather like the first traffic Harbour Tunnel which has been in operation for a couple of decades.

What are the implications for Berrys Bay and adjacent lands?

It is understood that these will include:

  • A sheet pile coffer dam built adjacent to the Coal Loader. This will allow construction of the transition from submerged tube to rock tunnel.
  • The rock tunnel from the shoreline up to Cammeray will be spearheaded from an entrance dug into the rockface behind the existing heritage bund wall near the bottom of Balls Head Road. This operation will use all the State owned land in the area, including the flat land promised as a park, the area behind the bund wall and some or all the Woodleys site. Dog owners, runners and walkers should be prepared for the current link between Carradah Park and Balls Head Road to be cut for the duration of works.
  • Excavated material will be loaded out from the site onto barges at a new wharf facility to be built in the Bay. It is understood that this will be covered to reduce noise and dust. Barges will be towed upriver where the spoil will be transferred to trucks for final use as clean fill on other sites. The following page is from the RMS Project Update:

The timetable for the works is currently unclear, but is expected to start in a year or two and last several years.

For more information on the tunnel generally, refer to the RMS website:  https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/sydney-north/western-harbour-tunnel-beaches-link/index.html but be aware that statements contained there are viewed as political and as such, avoid highlighting negative aspects of the project. Negatives are likely to include:

  • With average air quality in Sydney sitting right on the regulated limit of 8 microgrammes of PM 2.5 particles/cubic metre of air, users of the tunnel will, on average, be exposed to above acceptable levels of pollution for the full length of the tunnel. There is no intention to treat or supplement this air for the benefit of motorists.
  • The exhaust air will be discharged near the Ernest St crossing of the Warringah Freeway. Again, no filtration, so expect increased pollution locally. And if you think that this is of little importance, be aware that air pollution is currently rated as the major cause of death around the world.

Source: RMS Brochure on Western Harbour Tunnel

  • Construction is likely to be by road headers which grind the rock and put it on conveyor belts. You may experience noise and vibration from this work during the construction period.
  • The effect on Military Road will be modest given the oversaturated nature of current usage. It will remain a busy road and there have been no promises (broken or otherwise as is the case for Parramatta Road) to reduce lanes, widen footpaths or plant trees.
  • The people on the Northern Beaches will never get improved public transport given that the Government is committing $15b+ to this tunnel system.

ISSUE 3: FLOATING DRY DOCK PROPOSAL FOR NOAKES SHIPYARD Noakes have now submitted two DA applications to locate a floating dry dock on the waters within their lease area. The first DA was withdrawn following advice from Council that it was non-compliant in its current form and did not address various issues. The new DA (57/2019) has been on display, with public comments closing on April 23. Waverton Precinct, among other community bodies, made submissions against approval of the proposal on various grounds including scale, visual, noise, smells and that the existing approvals for the business exclude on-water industrial activities. The determination is awaited. The view below is from the visual impact documentation in the DA. As can be seen, it dwarfs in size the existing buildings on the site.


The wharf of the Coal Loader is an important piece of Sydney Harbour’s heritage. There are currently proposals being considered to heritage list the Balls Head Peninsula, including the coal Loader and all its facilities. Unfortunately, the wharf is currently being demolished by neglect by RMS, a strategy used to good effect on the wharves and jetties in Berrys Bay over recent years. Every year or so a contractor removes more sections deemed unsafe or unstable.

A proposal for saving the first few landward bays of the wharf was developed by North Sydney Council. At one point RMS expressed some support for this concept, but with the upcoming Western Harbour Tunnel, there is currently no bankable commitment to implement this plan which would enable the Coal Loader to be understood by future visitors. With no wharf it just does not make sense. The Waverton Precinct is committed to facilitating this scheme as part of its commitment to the Waverton Peninsula overall.

Concept view from NSC report of 2015


By David Chesterman AM LFAIA FPIA, Registered Heritage Consultant.

I have been requested by the Waverton Precinct to prepare a Visual Impact Assessment of a Development Application received by the North Sydney Council from Stannards Marine (DA57/2019).


The applicant is seeking consent for the mooring and use of a floating dry dock facility (FDD) on a site adjacent to 6 John Street, McMahons Point, in the local government area of North Sydney.

The site has a total area of 6,403.156m2 and is currently occupied by a boat repair and maintenance facility. This comprises both land and water based infrastructure.

On the landward side of the site there are:

  • car parking areas,
  • hard-stand for boats when being repaired and maintained,
  • four enclosed buildings in which to undertake maintenance works in confined environments, depending on the type of works being undertaken 
  • a two storey office building and other marine repair infrastructure.

The site currently operates under a development consent that includes regulatory control over the operation of the site in relation to vessel accommodation, hours of operation and the nature of works permitted thereon.

The development consent allows for the employment of up to 120 people..

The site currently operates between the hours of 7:00am and 6:00pm, six days per week and is operated under an Environment Protection Licence

The proposed Floating Dry Dock will support a vessel of 1,000 tons.


As I wrote in my visual assessment of the marina proposal that was lodged with North Sydney Council in 2015 – “Berrys Bay, until recently the site of the large BP tank farm, is now a beautiful part of inner Sydney Harbour. The transformation is evident from many of the photographs within the EIS and associated documents”.

Consent was not granted to the 2015 Application and Berrys Bay is still “characterized by an almost perfect balance between a strong bushland landscape on Sydney Sandstone landforms, parklands, waterfront walks, residential development, small-scale maritime industries, clear expanses of water enlivened by small craft on swing moorings and dramatic long views out into the Harbour and of the towers of the CBD and the Bridge.”

Bearing in mind that not so many years ago Berrys Bay was the location of the BP tank farm and its associated infrastructure, its present qualities are not accidental:

  • A considerable amount of public money has been spent by North Sydney Council and other agencies to transform it and to create parks and waterfront walks.
  • There has been careful design, informed by sound ecological advice.
  • There has been good management by North Sydney Council, supported by State agencies and the community.
  • The 2015 application to construct a very large, out of scale, marina was not approved by the Consent Authority, partly on visual grounds.

The Waverton Peninsula Strategic Masterplan 1999, was developed after extensive consultation with Council, NSW Government and the community.  It responded to wider area Sydney Harbour strategies and has since then guided thinking and action.

The scale and heavy industrial character of the FDD proposal (DA 57/19) now before Council are, like the previous application in my opinion, out of balance with the stated values and proposals in this Masterplan and would be deleterious to the visual quality of Berrys Bay and to people’s enjoyment of it. 

They are also incompatible with the objectives of SREP (Sydney Harbour Catchment) (2005), of the draft SEPP (Environment) and with the Local Environment Plan, which make clear that (a) Sydney Harbour is to be recognized as a public resource, owned by the public, to be protected for the public good: (b )the public good has precedence over the private good whenever and whatever change is proposed for Sydney Harbour or its foreshores; and (c) protection of the natural assets of Sydney Harbour has precedence over all other interests.

The applicant’s EIA states that ‘where there are perceived or potential adverse impacts, appropriate strategies have been put forward for the purpose of mitigating these impacts’. With respect, it is simply not possible to mitigate the adverse visual impacts of is the enormous rectangular bulk of the dry dock.

For reasons set out more fully below, this application is rightly of considerable concern to the immediate community and to the many others, such as walking groups, who benefit from the beauty of the Bay, and should not be approved.


The important and valuable scenic resources of Berrys Bay include:

  • The natural forms of Balls Head and Carradah Park (both re-vegetated in recent times) with largely natural shorelines
  • The mature trees of Waverton Park
  • The trees within Boat-builders Walk, Saw-millers Reserve and Blues Point Reserve
  • The largely tree-dominated residential areas on its Eastern slope.
  • Two concentrations of small-scale waterfront industry and small jetties – one on each arm of the Bay – that add character and visual interest.
  • Long-distance views into and across the Harbour, of the Bridge and of the towers of the CBD
  • A scattering of small craft on swing moorings
  • The waters of the Bay
  • Views from a proposed public jetty (an obligation under the original 1990 DA)

Each of the varied parts of the Bay are visible alone or in pleasing contrast with each across the clear waters of the Bay from generous water level walkways, parklands and constructed paths at various heights within Balls Head and Carradah Parks and along its eastern shore.

As can be seen on the Location Plan, Berrys Bay has two “arms”- Northern and Western, each with steeply sloping sides that essentially form two separate visual catchments. The visual impact of the proposed FDD would be largely confined to the Northern Arm.

The Noakes Marina is located on the Eastern side of the Northern Arm of the Bay and is surrounded by houses and apartment buildings, a number of which enjoy water views that include the Noakes Boatshed.  

The small craft that “clutter” the works area and jetties of Noakes Marina at present are visually interesting and compatible in scale with the residential areas surrounding it, making it an interesting environment in which to live and to visit, and contribute to the visual quality of the Bay as a whole.

On the Western side of the Northern Arm, opposite the site, a dolphin wharf is periodically used to moor vessels.  This practice has added visual interest to views of the Bay.  Carradah Park and its various walk and viewpoints are above this.

Further marine related uses located in the Western Arm of the Bay and are of similar small scale but appear now to be abandoned.

As is demonstrated in the photo-montages presented below, the proposed Floating Dry Dock has none of the visual interest of and is of a totally different scale to the existing structures and activities that characterize the Noakes Boatshed and works areas.  It is demonstrably not the case that ‘the existing view composition would not be significantly changed’ (EIA, 2019, p73).

Representative public and private views as existing and as that they would be if degraded by the FDD are illustrated and discussed below. As will be apparent, the mooring and use of the floating dry dock as proposed by the DA, would have a significant, and from many vantage points, a severe adverse effect on public views and views from surrounding properties. The view from the proposed public jetty would also be severely impacted, since it will be located some 20 meters from the FDD itself.

The representative views selected are

  • from the much used Waverton Park: View 1,
  • from the walkways and viewpoints constructed by Council in Carradah Park: View 2
  • from the end of John Street (11 John St), as representative of public and private views at foreshore level on the Eastern shore of the Bay: View 3

While there would be no disagreement as to the representativeness of the views from Waverton Park and Carradah Park, the applicant at a number of points suggests that the views from residences (and in particular 1/11 John St) are an ‘isolated location’, while recognizing that other residences, most notably in Munro St and Commodore Cres will also be visually impacted to varying degrees.

With respect, the SEARs require consideration of “properties along the foreshore areas’. Lower John St is precisely such an area and such a property as indeed is the rest of that apartment block. Just as the view of Berry’s Bay will be severely impacted from 11 John St (including 2/11 John St which is ignored in the applicant’s VIA), it will be even more severely impacted from the location of the proposed adjacent public jetty (a condition of the original 1990 DA). Equally, many walkers and other users of the area stop to enjoy the view/take photographs from the opposite side of the road to 11 John St, which has a particularly striking view of the bay. Their enjoyment will be similarly impacted. Again, and contrary to the VIA, it is not apparent in what way the ‘view line’ is anything but scenic.

Moreover, there is a broader point encapsulated by the John St montage, namely that the FDD will completely dominate the Bay from all walking levels – in the Park, on the Oval, around the foreshore residences generally because it will spend most of its time sitting high in the water with large boats sticking out the top. The proposed noise inhibiting curtains, (not included in our montages) will also increase its perceived bulk from some locations.

Appendix 1 provides details of the methodology used with regard to the montages.

The following montages assume that the FDD is in the up condition, with vessel inside (the condition in which the FDD will be in most of the lime).


This view from the edge of the much used Waverton Park illustrates how the existing Noakes boatsheds and craft being serviced at it are in scale with, add interest to and enhance the view from the park.

It can be readily seen from the following photo-montage that the FDD, being of a totally different scale and of an industrial character has a highly significant adverse visual impact, not only from this particular location but it is similar from anywhere in the Park.


This view from Carradah Park is typical of the views from the many constructed viewpoints in this spectacular park that was formerly a fuel storage installation. 

It similarly illustrates how the existing Noakes boatsheds and craft being serviced at it are in scale with, add interest to and enhance the view.

It can be readily seen from the photomontage that the FDD, being of a vastly different scale and of an industrial character would significantly change the character of this and similar views

VIEWS FROM RESIDENTIAL AND PUBLIC AREAS along the Eastern side of the Bay: V3

This view from the lower end of John Street has been selected to illustrate the visual effect of the proposal on residential properties that are immediate and nearby neighbours of Noakes Boatshed and on nearby public lands and walks. It can be seen from the photo-montage that visual impacts from these locations would be very severe.


It can be seen from the above photomontages that the introduction of the proposed Floating Dry Dock at Noakes Boatshed would have seriously adverse effects on the visual quality and character of the Bay. 

Considerable resources and thoughtful design and management have, in recent years, been used to restore and maintain the visual qualities of Berry’s Bay.  In my opinion, on visual grounds alone, it would be totally inconsistent with the intent of Council and the State Government Agencies involved, to permit it.

Precinct submission on FDD FINAL April 2019


                6 JOHN ST, MCMAHONS POINT


                   APRIL 2019           

This submission is made on behalf of the Waverton Precinct. It has been formulated in accordance with public discussion at the Precinct meeting held on 2 April, following a presentation by representatives of the “Say No to Noakes “ campaign. It is noted the Precinct formally opposed the previous DA in 2018.

Waverton Precinct acknowledges the long tenure of the Noakes boatyard and its predecessors in Berrys Bay and supports the ‘working harbour’ concept. The Precinct understands that any business should evolve its services to meet customer demand and business opportunities.

 However, particularly in this location a balance also need to be struck between the interests of the business, its neighbours, and the numerous community, recreational and tourist users of adjacent public facilities. This group is large and steadily increasing in this Precinct and will continue that way.

Our view is that the submitted proposal is an unacceptable over-development of this ship repair yard and should be rejected by the North Sydney Council and by the Sydney North Planning Panel as the Consent Authority. Please see the photo of the specific site as it now looks and a comparative photo image of how it will look with the FDD in place on the next page as a starting reference point to the following submission.

In summary:

  1. Berrys Bay is an iconic location within Sydney Harbour and must not be compromised.
  • The beautiful reserve lands around the Bay have been progressively restored to public ownership and access to the people of Sydney over nearly a hundred years. The consistent change at each point has been to improve the public amenity and utilisation of these areas. The proposed development is inconsistent with the current level of public enjoyment of this area and a reversal of the trend over many decades to continually improve the public amenity of the area.
  • The proposal is incompatible with relevant Sydney Region Environmental Plan 2005; the Council’s Waverton Peninsula Master Plan, and with the Local Environment Plan. It specifically seems at odds with attempts to revive and restore the natural heritage values of the area.
  • The need for a dry dock of this size to be placed at this location has not been established : indeed there are clearly other alternatives in and beyond Sydney Harbour and a healthy list of existing competitors for the exact trade and customer bases which such a FDD is intended to service.
  • The State Government wants naval work done in the revamped large yard at Tomago in Newcastle
  • The proposed development is excessive in size for the proposed location and its visual impact, noise impact and scale is overwhelming and unacceptable in the context of this quiet Bay. 
  • There are substantial and degrading visual impacts especially on local private residents that simply cannot be addressed in a proposed development of such a scale as this dry dock.
  • The artistic heritage of Berrys Bay has not been considered at all.
  • The social impacts of the proposal have not been adequately addressed, particularly consideration of the wide range of people impacted – most obviously nearby residents but also tourists and the many recreational users of the adjacent areas.
  1. The noise and air quality impacts of the proposal are likely to be considerable notwithstanding the containment ideas suggested in the DA submission. There is no proof offered that the  Noakes pollution containment system can actually deal with the paint and other solid waste – like rust, sand and grit from blasting work, and the toxic chemicals used to antifoul a boat – which will be generated. Previous activity by the shipyard provides no confidence that the suggested pollution and noise control ideas or hours of work will even be followed.
  1. The considerable traffic and parking implications have not been properly addressed.




Berrys Bay is an important icon among the internationally recognised picturesque settings in Sydney Harbour. Along with Cremorne Point it provides one of the best ‘long views’ of the CBD around the Harbour. Any future development in the Bay must contribute to the image of Sydney as one of the most liveable and beautiful cities in the world and it therefore must fulfil the highest design and environmental standards.

The proposed development does not achieve this at all ; to the contrary, it is a very large steel box, approximately 60 meters long, 20 meters wide and for most of its life it will sit on top of the water at almost 9 metres above the surface. The craft in it – such as large pleasure motorboats and naval craft – will of course be considerable taller again and provide a solid blockage to the local views from much of the ground level around the north and west side of the Bay. It is noted the FDD is expected to be in active use most of the year.

The most significant factors contributing to the iconic status of the Bay are:

  • The natural setting of Berrys Bay with its unobtrusive maritime and recreational uses is unique in the harbour – both historically and still now.  Even at its industrial peak this shipyard has been a set of slipways of a relatively light industrial nature; and heavy industry like that proposed with the FDD is not in any way consistent with a ‘traditional use’ of the facility. Additionally, Noakes  repair activities have been exclusively land based leaving the local shipping channel and mooring areas unaffected by its operations. The FDD will change this relationship.
  • The suggested ‘heritage’ justification that previously large vessels were routinely in the Bay – in particular small oil tankers at the then BP wharf opposite – is a facile argument. Not only were they never at the Noakes shipyard, but In any case these vessels ceased being in the Bay at all over twenty years ago. No maintenance/ repair work on the proposed scale has ever been undertaken here,
  • The deliberate returning of the surrounding foreshore public reserves, such as the adjacent Waverton Oval and Carradah Park, to the people of NSW by different governments over the decades has meant the Bay and its environs have withstood industrial destruction and environmental degradation and have been successfully rehabilitated and turned to other uses.
  • The Bay has been, and remains, extremely important to the artistic heritage of the city. It has one of the best aspects of the city with its deep but wide angle of anywhere on the Harbour and is renowned by artists and photographers for this reason.
  • The Bay remains and is increasingly important to the recreational opportunities for local residents as the local suburbs becomes more densely settled and increasingly popular with tourists. This latter aspect will explode if the Sydney Harbour Highline project, which runs directly behind the shipyard, comes to fruition.

It follows that the proposed development is completely inappropriate in character and scale to the particular character and intrinsic qualities of Berrys Bay.

  • Incidentally, in leaving the Bay, BP paid for the cost of removal of the dolphin berth at Carradah Park, but this anticipated removal has not been actioned due to the decades long argument about the future of the southern end of Berry’s Bay. That wharf actually should no longer exist and we take this opportunity to call on the State Government to promptly relocate the vessels moored there and to action the immediate dismantling and removal of the wharf to open up the views at ground level, as part of the trend of ongoing improvement to the Bay over many decades.


In the 1920’s Balls Head was cleared in readiness for industrial development. It was rescued by Jack Lang and instead proclaimed a public reserve in 1926, becoming one of the most important and the largest reserve west of the Bridge.  Replanting it, designing and creating tracks and building lookouts was a major Depression-era project.

Many other closures of local factories followed over the next decades, both on the waterfront of this Bay and in the surrounding suburbs of McMahons Point and Waverton. The creation of parks and open spaces was the steady result of this transformation. Most recently, in 1997 following the closure of the BP terminal, Bob Carr’s “Vision for Sydney Harbour” recognised that “…Sydney Harbour is too precious to be sold off for the exclusive use of Sydney’s silvertails…”

 At that time the bulk of the Berrys Bay land, together with the coal loader, was handed to North Sydney Council under the Waverton Peninsula Reserve Trust. After considerable public investment these sites have also now been rehabilitated as the hugely popular Carradah Park and the Coal Loader precinct, including the Genia McCaffery Centre for Sustainability and also the adaptive re-use of the Coal Loader platform as a magnificent multiple Award-winning heritage public open space, which opened in March 2018.

The enjoyment of these lands by the people of Sydney – and not just local residents – is in no small part inter-related on the environmental, noise and aesthetic qualities of the adjacent Berrys Bay.


Development in Berrys Bay must be compatible with the SREP, in particular

  • Sydney Harbour is to be recognised as a public resource, owned by the public, to be protected for the public good
  • the public good has precedence over the private good wherever and whatever change is proposed for Sydney Harbour and its foreshores
  • protection of the natural assets of Sydney Harbour has precedence over all other interests

Similarly the latest Draft SEPP (Environment): reaffirms the vision for Sydney Harbour as an outstanding natural, public asset of national and international significance to be maintained and enhanced for current and future generations; maintains the current principles for the Foreshores and Waterways Area, such that the Harbour is to be recognised as a public resource, owned by the public, to be protected for the public good; and confirms that the public good has precedence over the private good whenever and whatever change is proposed for Sydney Harbour or its foreshores. Crucially, protection of the natural assets of Sydney Harbour has precedence over all other interests.

Consistent with the above, the North Sydney Local Environment Plan states that development consent must not be granted for Working Waterfront where the proposed development is inconsistent with: the size of the site …where the development is to be situated, particularly in relation to the number, size and draft of any boats to be moored; with the proximity, scale and height of surrounding development; or with the scenic, environmental and cultural qualities … of the surrounding area. It also states that development consent must not be granted where the proposed development is likely to have a significant adverse effect on public views and views from surrounding properties.The Precinct considers that these objectives are not being met in the current proposal.



 We are concerned the dry dock is simply over size for the scale and ambience of the Bay. If it was ever to have regular use by super motor yachts and Navy mine hunters at the nominated size of 600-750 tonnes (and of course that is exactly the market which Noakes is seeking to enter with this DA), it will completely dominate the Bay views from all nearby walking levels – on the Oval, around the foreshore residences, down the nearby streets – because it will spend most of its time sitting high in the water with large solid boats sticking out the top, not the traditional slim yacht masts which do not block off views or sight angles.

The eminent urban designer and architect David Chesterman AM, was commissioned by the Precinct last year to provide a Visual Impact Assessment. His updated report and accompanying  montages display graphically the impact of the proposed FDD from various vantage points around the Bay. We recommend NSC and the Consent Authority also look at this document in considering their decision. It is an Attachment to this submission.

What most people will be looking at is the enormous rectangular bulk of the dry dock which will be out of character with, and from many angles and aspects will dominate, the rest of the bay. As is apparent from the photo montages and the Chesterman VIA , this FDD facility will have a substantial visual impact both for the public generally and for many residents in the vicinity. While the proponents argue in the DA that there will be minimal impact, the apartment blocks towards the bottom end of John St, those in Munro St, and several houses in Commodore Crescent will be highly impacted (and in some cases have their views permanently dominated by this structure).

Noakes has to date been a traditional boatyard in Berry’s Bay working on private boats, mainly yachts, and small commercial vessels. That is the ‘existing use’ of the shipyard in this Bay.

What is proposed is something entirely different on the scale of a large industrial concern that conflicts in multiple ways with the aesthetic, residential and wider public interest as set out in the SREP.

The DA also has to be considered in the broader context of the evolution of Berrys Bay, which is no longer an industrial part of the harbour but with the demise of the BP facility, the removal of the oil tanks, the rehabilitation of that area and the development of harbourside walks and parks has become an area of outstanding natural beauty and something of a ‘serenity safety valve’ for residents of the more densely settled nearby suburbs and the nearby commercial and educational hub of North Sydney.  

In such a setting, a massive dry dock will be a substantial eyesore from Carradah Park, John St, Boatbuilders Walk, Waverton Oval and multiple other locations that have views or partial views over the Bay. This overall proposed development is just too large. Because of its size, at ground level it totally swamps the aesthetics of surrounding parts of Berrys Bay.

It should be noted that the Bay now exists in the context of surrounding low to medium density residential development, public parks and reserves. The major industry previous located here and the need for access by large vessels to this end of the Bay are long gone. With the dedication of Carradah Park to North Sydney Council the environment has changed. The clock cannot and should not be turned back to a period when an intensive waterfront environment, dominated by heavy industry and impacting adversely on the surrounding area, was considered appropriate.



Berrys Bay has long been a favoured subject for artists and photographers. Its sparkling waters, low key maritime activity, fantastic long views towards the city centre, and collection of ramshackle boat sheds merge to create a quiet charm that has endured over the years. From colonial painters to artists of the impressionist, modernist and abstract periods right through to contemporary artists and the hobbyists and art classes of today – all have been drawn to this special place.  

Significant artists who lived nearby and frequently painted the Bay include Conrad Martens, Lloyd Rees, William Ashton and Roland Wakelin. Others whose works have the highest regard in Australian collections include Elioth Gruner, Lionel and Percy Lindsay, Sydney Long and Roy de Maistre.

 ”Down the Hills to Berry’s Bay, was painted in 1916 by Roland Wakelin. This painting captures the tranquillity of the Bay and its surrounds. It is widely regarded as the first “modernist” painting by an Australian artist.”  Art Gallery of NSW

Professional artists, art students, hobbyists and photographers continue to be drawn to the Bay. Only in February this year a local artist, Anne Field held a sell-out exhibition of works painted in the Bay area. 

David Chesterman, also a registered heritage consultant, in his attached VIA, documents in detail the transformation of the Bay from its previous industrial state to its present iconic status, resulting from the restoration of its natural beauty and values. In this context, the FDD scale is out of proportion and inappropriate. There never has been any massive rectangular vessel in the Bay close to the size of the FDD. This would not have been appropriate even 40 years ago, far less is it today.


There is minimal treatment of social impacts in the EIS. There is no understanding of the extensive number and range of people who currently benefit from the current limits on the use of this site. For example there are walkers, runners, exercise groups, dog walkers, historical walking tours, painting groups or individuals, photographers or simply those who come from all over Sydney just to look at the view.

Ironically, one of the most popular vantage points is at the end of John St, looking towards Darling Harbour- some 50 metres from the proposed development. The development will entirely block out that view. There is simply no consideration of the impacts on these people. 

We remain particularly concerned that with steadily increasing tourist visits, mainly walking parties, in the district which have increased significantly since the opening of the magnificent Coal Loader Platform Park the ongoing failure by Noakes to honour their previous commitments to create a public walkway across the rear of their property will become a major nuisance to both the walking groups and to the local residents as steadily more people have to use John Street and Dumbarton Street to do their walking tour. Coupled with the anticipated increased car and truck movements mentioned later, this trend is a cause for great concern, notwithstanding unsubstantiated assertions to the contrary in the DA.

Should the ‘Sydney Harbour Highline’ project become a reality, and this is looking quite likely, this will significantly further increase tourist numbers walking straight past the Noakes facility and seeking to enjoy the beautiful views of the Bay as they come down John Street to the Waverton Oval and Carradah Park.


We are concerned that this facility will create a lot of noise and has the potential to create a lot of physical waste pollution when it is working. The nature of the work to be done is welding, drilling, sand blasting, spray painting, engine overhauls and so forth. Existing noise restrictions have been often breached, there is a long history of complaints from adjoining properties concerning this problem, and a substantial enlargement of operations such as is proposed (approximately six-fold according to tonnage) will considerably exacerbate a problem that is already a pressing one. We note the work done by the yard appears to have grown significantly beyond the limits set in the last DA in the 1990s and that this proposal would involve a quantum leap in its noise impact on the surrounding residential area. Not only is the proposal on such a large scale but the noise levels will also intensify within the steel structure of dry dock, notwithstanding the addition of plastic curtains on the inside of the FDD, and even more so when the contemplated steel hulled boats are being repaired and cleaned (as opposed to working with wood or fibreglass for example). We acknowledge the inclusion of ‘acoustic curtains’ on the insides and both ends of the floating dry dock in this latest DA, but remain concerned that the projected noise levels under their model projections will be substantially exceeded in practice. Indeed, given repeated serious breaches of their existing Consent, the community can have little confidence in undertakings for the future.  The end curtains may also increase the perceived bulk of the FDD from horizontal and near-horizontal locations.

The existing operations use a range of hazardous substances (not least, isocyanates and the highly toxic antifouling chemicals that are removed by sand blasting and other abrasive methods) which existing controls have failed to contain within the site boundary. Again, there have been numerous well- documented complaints from nearby residences. This DA asserts that all these waste products will be routed through Noakes existing holding tanks and filtration systems, but the DA gives no information about that infrastructure’s ability to cope with this extra load. These are toxic chemicals and are removed by water blasting of the hull of the vessel before a new layer of antifouling is applied. Conceivably, the whole FDD might need to be washed down internally at the end of each job and certainly there will be a huge amount of water used and contaminated for that purpose.

The other concern is the extraction and disposal of the solid waste created from abrasive blasting, welding and rust removal work and therefore collected within the FDD. This is too heavy to wash out and will presumably need to be somehow extracted with a crane and placed into dump skips. There is no mention in the DA of how this work will be done and related measures to avoid accidental dumping into the water.

Indeed it is not clear at all why the excess spray paint or light debris from sand or water blasting or from metal grinding will not simply go out the open top of the FDD (assuming the plastic curtains being suggested in this DA stop it going out either end) and get blown around the Bay !

The independent air pollution report commissioned last year from environmental engineer Aleks Todoroski, found ‘significant’ air quality impacts that would have otherwise been overlooked.  Todoroski concluded that “there is no reasonable way to tell whether the proposed Project can or cannot achieve acceptable levels of air quality … The issues are significant enough to indicate that it would not be appropriate approve the Project on the basis of the current information”.

Any substantial expansion on existing operations is most likely to simply exacerbate the existing air pollution and noise problems considerably.


A ‘social license’ refers to the level of acceptance or approval by local communities and stakeholders of industry and its operations. Developing trust and finding mechanisms for cooperation and ‘win-win’ solutions are crucial for industry and communities to live side by side over the long term. As has been made clear, the community co-exists with the boat yard of the size and nature contemplated by the original 1990 Approved Operating Conditions.

However, even under that DA there has been a long history of non-compliance by this same operator ranging from grinding outside permitted hours, working on weekends, and discharging waste into Berry’s Bay for which Noakes was fined $15,000 by the EPA as recently as 2016. Subsequently there have been further complaints consequent upon which EPA has taken further administrative action. There have been ongoing complaints concerning noise and pollution noted above as well as complaints about Noakes regularly anchoring boats in the Bay outside their RMS lease area. It is also notable that Noakes has failed to construct the public wharf which formed a condition of its last approved DA of 1990/92.

Regrettably, against this backdrop there is little trust upon which to build and little community confidence that a far larger operation would try to contain its environmental and social impacts or even adhere to its Consent conditions or its own operating protocols – because they have a long history of not doing so.



We are concerned this facility will seek in time to utilise the dolphin wharf adjacent to Carradah Park to temporarily ‘hold’ vessels coming in and out of the dry dock, potentially doubling the problem. We are aware that the dolphin wharf is currently leased to another organisation than Noakes, but access to it is presumably merely a commercial matter.

The Precinct’s view is this wharf should already have been demolished a decade ago in accordance with the State Government undertakings when establishing Carradah Park – and we note that BP provided funds to the government for the removal of this wharf at the time of exiting the area. The wharf is only still there because of the inertia created by over a decade of successive unpalatable attempts to create an appropriate redevelopment of the Woodley’s Boatshed area at the southern end of the Bay.

The Precinct continues to seek that the vessels on that wharf be found new homes and that the wharf be promptly and completely dismantled.


There are very few places around the foreshore of the Bay where access to the water is legally available and the proposal does not attempt to improve this position. While we understand that public access to the shipyard itself would be difficult to manage, even a WHS impossibility, the failure to do anything in this corner of the Bay via this DA  is considered by Precinct to be a missed opportunity.

We note that when their last DA was approved, Noakes agreed to construct a public wharf. While not a part of this DA, Precinct takes the opportunity to again request that NSC presses Noakes to deliver on that wharf. The most obvious spots are at the bottom of John St or the bottom of Munro St but neither have much parking and no turning areas for cars, trucks or buses.


 While the dry dock is notionally and legally a ‘boat’ the reality is that it will remain in place at the boatyard for the purpose of repairing boats for the vast majority of the time, if not exclusively (as that is its very purpose). As such it contravenes the spirit, if not the letter, of the requirements of the NSDCP 2013 where all buildings proposed along the Harbour should be set back from the harbour’s edge. By contrast, this massive structure would be sited beyond the interface of the water and land, meaning that work would be occurring on a floating vessel which is outside the permitted activities in the current site approval.



Parking and traffic issues need to be considered within the context of the whole Waverton peninsula area. Notwithstanding the claims that the FDD will lead to greater employment and turnover at the boatyard, the 2019 DA gives only minimal consideration to questions of traffic congestion, lack of available parking, or the difficulties of trucking out toxic waste generated by work at the FDD.

 Indeed, parking claimed in the DA in the immediate vicinity as available to the Shipyard is actually public parking on John St. Little consideration has been given to the provision for extra truck or car parking on site, presumably (and sensibly) because extra space is simply not available there. However, parking in John St is already full to capacity during working hours – including by employees of Noakes and by many who are visiting Noakes for business purposes.

It is noted that the FDD must complicate the already difficult parking issues because it will bring in a different type of skillset to the Noakes workforce. Rather than shipwrights and wooden boat craftsmen, this industrial scale operation will necessitate boilermakers, welders, sand blasters, fabricators, and spray painters. In addition many specialists will come in for specific tasks from time to time – and they won’t be arriving by train … more utes and light trucks are inevitable as the scale and nature of the business changes with the FDD. More waste removal trucks and skip trucks would also be inevitable.  

The access roads  (there are only 2) are difficult – narrow and steep with few if any vacant parking spaces – and in our view this will also worsen with truck deliveries when the FDD is operational. These same streets currently provide the main conduit also for walkers and runners into the Oval and parklands.

Should the Highline concept go ahead, it is also going to put significantly more tourist foot traffic into these same streets. In our view, NSC and the Sydney North Planning Panel should work on the basis that in the foreseeable future the Highline project is likely to take shape and act proactively with those implications in mind in assessing this particular DA.


THE DA identifies the potential users of the FDD as large private power boats (for ease of imagining, say worth >$5m) and up to ‘minehunter’ size Naval vessels. There undoubtedly is a market for that work, but that does not mean the FDD must be located in this particular bay.

The assertions in the EIS and elsewhere through the DA that no location other than Berry’s Bay is viable for the FDD do not stand up to much scrutiny.  There already is the capacity to service and maintain vessels of the intended size within the Harbour, at several locations – for example the commercial shipyards at Sydney City Marine and at Sydney Ship Repair and Engineering which cater to this same private market. For naval craft there is the huge Thales dry dock facility at Garden Island – the largest dry dock in the southern hemisphere and located inside the main naval base in Sydney.

Therefore not only is there a broad competitive commercial market in existence already among existing established entities on Sydney Harbour, but most of these are actually better equipped and have multiple commercial advantages over the Berry’s Bay site.

Far from being the ‘only’ site, there is no compelling business case for locating the FDD in Berry’s Bay.

Even more importantly, the State Government has made clear that its commitment is to centre  naval repair work in Newcastle, with major public announcements by the relevant Minister in 2017 associated with the major overhaul of the Tomago shipyard through 2017. This site uniquely provides the scale, location, heavy engineering expertise, and modern equipment  – which Noakes simply cannot match from a refurbished 1940’s era FDD located at the bottom of a narrow suburban street.

As a business expansion opportunity, the FDD gives Noakes the capacity to do work it cannot currently do. We understand from speeches recently made by the GM of Noakes that the Navy work is seen as likely to form a potentially huge increase in their profit level.

However, there are established other commercial competitors for the anticipated private work and clearly the Navy already has several options too – so the respective customers do already have choice and the ability to negotiate rates and times for their work.

There is no ‘need’ for a further competitor and certainly not via approval of this specific DA.


 Waverton Precinct considers this floating dry dock is simply too large and too intrusive and likely to be too noisy and polluting for the proposed location in Berry’s Bay. Its visual impact will be severe and it will also have an adverse impact on the heritage and natural aspects of the Bay. It is not needed commercially.

We therefore oppose the DA.            

We are pleased to discuss or clarify any aspect of our submission with the appropriate officers.

Ian Grey, Chair Waverton Precinct



The community (both Precinct and political groups) have been persistently lobbying and engaging with members of the Government for the termination of the BBM (Meridien) Agreement  for Lease, which has always been on condition that BBM achieved a successful DA, The incumbent has had almost a decade to develop a compliant design concept and have it approved, and they have repeatedly failed. They have failed because they did not listen to the community and produce a concept which would fit with the character and scale of the Bay. Their right to continue the Agreement for Lease has therefore ceased.

At the site meeting in March the Premier indicated her office would take advice on termination. The reports below of use of Berrys Bay for the proposed tunnel must mean the Government has decided to terminate the Agreement for Lease. It is now time for action to terminate but this must not be conditional on any tunnel proposal or be delayed further while that process proceeds..

We now call on the NSW Government to ensure that taxpayer money is not handed over in this termination process. BBM should not be compensated for this decade-long display of commercial hubris. Rather, it has not been able to fulfill what must be the conditions of the Agreement to obtain a DA in order for a full lease then to follow. This should give the Government the right to cancel the Agreement without compensation. And even if compensation were to be considered it should merely reflect the value to the Government and community of any studies and surveys completed by the proponent which can be put to use in the future to achieve an outcome which is in harmony with this most important place.


Residents will be aware of plans for a new road tunnel, slated to travel under Waverton after crossing under the Harbour from Birchgrove Point. At the last Precinct meeting the RMS representative stated that all their planning is based on a concept line that starts at Rozelle (where it joins West Connex) and ends at Falcon Street/Warringah Expressway. From there another section of tunnel will cross under Middle Harbour, with links to the Burnt Creek Deviation and Warringah Road.

In a press release dated 18 July, the ABC issued a story based on leaked confidential Government briefing documents, about plans for this project, for which initial geotechnical investigations are currently under way in our area. Apart from the headline that the price tag for this project is estimated at $14b, the report also stated:

Much of the foreshore at Berrys Bay, Waverton, will close to become the home of a dredging operation, removing thousands of tonnes of sludge and mud from the harbour.”

The above story was followed up on the 20th with details that included:

The closure to the public of foreshore areas is flagged at White Bay, Berrys Bay, Balls Head and around Middle Harbour for the construction of large worksites, including heavy equipment sheds on land…

The plan considers the removal of the historic Balls Head Coal Loader Wharf to allow barge operations and a work-plant to operate from the foreshore….

Whilst these news releases might be regarded as speculative because RMS claims that no firm decision has been made on the alignment or form of harbour tunnel (buried tubes or deeper, drilled tunnel) to be used to cross from Birchgrove Point to Waverton, the community should be aware that this incursion would be likely if the whole project proceeds. The SaveBarrysBay Committee will be watching this closely to ensure the interests of the area are not trampled by this mega-project. As a first comment, we support the call by North Sydney Council for an investigation of public transport options including a metro line from Chatswood to Dee Why.



Despite several months passing since a new DA proposal by Berrys Bay Marina Company was mooted, there has been no application lodged. Based on the unsatisfactory scale of the mooted application (see below), the SaveBerrysBay committee has continued to lobby Government at Premier and Ministerial level for the current decade long and essentially failed process to be brought to an end; for the Greater Sydney Commission to be given the task of developing a new planning instrument for future development of the Peninsula and surrounding waters, with input from key stakeholders; and for this to inform a new tender process (if such is recommended). Both local branches of the Liberal Party, with the support of federal member Trent Zimmerman, recently passed resolutions for that course of action. Premier Berejiklian also visited the site but was non-committal about forcing the issue. A letter sent directly to the Minister for Roads Maritime and Freight also received a reply which failed to acknowledge the failure of RMS over the last decade to achieve a satisfactory outcome for the bay.

We will keep you informed on developments, noting that our response will be informed by the guiding principles agreed last year and published below.




An INCREASE in number of boats and in water area covered up in Woodleys Cove

The Meridien Marinas’ subsidiary Berrys Bay Marina Company, after losing its case before the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP), has come back with another overdevelopment proposal. The new plan appears to accept the ruling and exclude the dolphin wharf, but now plans to cram 79 vessels up to 30m (100ft) in length into the western arm (Woodleys Cove) covering up an even  larger water area.

The JRPP unanimously rejected DA 260/2015 earlier this year, deciding that:

  • The principal reason for refusal was “the high intensity of the proposed use”, with the amount of marina proposed “too much for the character of the Bay”.
  • The dolphin wharf section should be excluded (13 superyacht berths to 45m long).
  • In the western arm of the Bay (Woodleys Cove) the marina water area and size of boats should be reduced (from the proposed 74 berths 15-30m long).

The developer could have appealed to the Land & Environment Court against that unanimous rejection. Instead it has requested the Department of Planning’s requirements for preparation of its detailed DA for a new project. North Sydney Council has summarised the new plan as including:-

  • construction of a 79 berth marina for vessels up to 30m (100ft) in length;
  • retention and refurbishment of existing boating and administration facilities;
  • two new two storey buildings with a combined gross floor area of approximately 1,900m² for a yacht club, ancillary commercial and retail maritime uses;
  • retain the significant part (approximately 85%) of the existing quay line;
  • provision of a large landscaped area (approximately 6,000m²) for passive and active recreation;
  • children’s play area (approximately 300m²);
  • kayak and small boat storage facility; and
  • parking for approximately 70 vehicles.

While the dolphin wharf appears to have been deleted from the marina proposal in line with the JRPP decision, the burden on Woodleys Cove has been increased, not reduced as sought by the JRPP, with 8 additional berths, taking total berths from 71 to 79, on three arms, the eastern-most being significantly increased in length.   The proposed boat lengths range from 12-30m – note that boats 25m> are defined as superyachts. The net result of removing the dolphin wharf is therefore a reduction of only 5 on-water berths in Berrys Bay as a whole, from 84 to 79, which falls well short of the reduction in marina size sought by the JRPP.  Nor do we yet know whether the dolphin wharf is to be removed from the developer’s agreement for lease for the future or perhaps turned into another project, to be leased out to another over-developer.

Waverton Precinct has decided to remain pro-active in relation to the project with the intention of finally achieving the right re-development of our long contested Bay. We have therefore reviewed and simplified our requirements for any proposal.

Guiding principles adopted by Precinct

Waverton Precinct Committee at its 6 September 2016 monthly public meeting adopted the following in principle requirements to guide its response to any new DA:

  1. Any development to be appropriate in character and scale to the special values of this iconic Bay on Sydney Harbour foreshore with its beautiful surrounding  bushland and public open space setting and rich maritime industrial heritage.
  2. Development to meet the letter and spirit of the principles of Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005:
    i.  Sydney Harbour is to be recognised as a public resource, owned by the public, to be protected for the public good,
    ii. the public good has precedence over the private good whenever and whatever change is proposed for Sydney Harbour or its foreshores,
    iii. protection of the natural assets of Sydney Harbour has precedence over all other interests.
  3. In accordance with the decision of the JRPP that the main section of the marina should be reduced and the size of boats further limited, the Water Area of the marina not to exceed the previous combined operational area of Woodleys and BP in the western bay, with all of the marina berthed vessels, moored vessels and on-water operations contained within that Water Area. Number, length and height conditions to be determined for vessels consistent with the amenity of the bay.
  4. The former BP land now proposed for public recreation to become part of Carradah Park within the Waverton Peninsula Reserve Trust under care and control of Council together with the access road and bushland west of the Woodleys site to preserve and optimise the foreshore walkway and connectivity.
  5. Marina operations not to impact on that public recreation land or inhibit establishment of public access to and from that land, including foreshore access and access to the water. Accordingly no access to marina pontoons from, and no vehicular access along, that public land.
  6. The marina design to leave an adequate access channel to the Quarantine Depot including for the possibility of future ferry services, weekend, hop-on/hop-off, or regular.
  7. No reduction in the number of private swing moorings in the Bay.
  8. The Woodleys Main Shed to remain as a heritage item, refurbished, and continue to be fully visible from land and water. No dry boat storage racks to be located outside the existing Woodleys boat shed.
  9. Car parking to be contained within the bund wall and preferably to be a public carpark operated by Council. No commercial uses over the bund wall-enclosed car park roof. Car park roof to be landscaped and be accessible to the public.
  10. Public kayak/dinghy launching facilities to be provided at no charge, and kayak/dinghy storage facilities to be provided at the same charges as currently applied by North Sydney Council elsewhere.
  11. Public café/restaurant to be provided on the site, with operating hours to be in accordance with Council zoning.

This list of in principle requirements has been sent to all Ministers, local members, public agencies, Council and Councillors and community groups with a role in the proper development of Berrys Bay. Precinct will continue to call for a round table meeting of all those parties to determine the appropriate criteria to be provided to any developer before a new DA is presented. This way we seek to avoid the years of expensive and time-consuming adversarial confrontation that has achieved nothing in the decade since the first tender was released.

The Bay is too important for the government yet again to allow the developer to drive the process and we will seek the intervention of the Premier if our proposed consultative approach is not immediately pursued.

When a DA is ultimately produced it will be assessed again by Council but determined now by the new Greater Sydney Commission (replacing the JRPP). With the introduction of this new authority, Precinct recently made a submission on the crucial importance of our Peninsula.

Submission to the Greater Sydney Commission on “A vision for Waverton Peninsula: A natural and historic Sydney Harbour icon

Precinct’s submission to the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) presents a vision of Waverton Peninsula as a unique natural and historic icon on the shores of Sydney Harbour for consideration by the GSC as it drafts the Sydney North District Plan.  This submission argues the case for Government to adopt a whole-of-peninsula approach to planning to address issues including the Berrys Bay marina, the dolphin wharf, the former quarantine depot, the coal loader wharf and foreshore access.  You can view Precinct’s submission at:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bw-xgN7fmX0nLS11dDFBWmR2LVE/view?usp=sharing

We will keep you informed on developments.