Pyrmont Ultimo Case Study

The City West Development Corporation was established by the NSW Government to bring about the urban renewal of Pyrmont and Ultimo as part of the Commonwealth Government’s ‘Building Better Cities’ program.

The HillPDA Team was appointed to address the economic implications of using Commonwealth funding and land disposals (over a 15-year-period) to fund infrastructure, a light rail corridor, affordable housing and the Star City Casino. To address this challenge, the HillPDA Team prepared one of Australia’s first comprehensive discounted cash flow models created for an inner city redevelopment of this scale and complexity.

The model was prepared to capture the change in property values through the property cycle and the escalation of infrastructure costs over the project life. The model demonstrated the viability of the project and was used by NSW Treasury to identify the project’s infrastructure demands in addition to appropriate funding options and payback periods. The model enabled the successful agreement and attainment of funding from the State and Commonwealth Governments under the ‘Building Better Cities’ scheme.

Today, Pyrmont and Ultimo have become urban renewal success stories, evolving into vibrant urban precincts providing new parks and foreshore promenades, housing, leisure and entertainment facilities as well as employment opportunities.

Summary of Services: Urban Renewal, Development Feasibility

The NSW HSC Geography Syllabus states that each student is to investigate a case study showing one urban dynamic from the list, operating within a country town or suburb.

(The following information is sourced from the Observatory Hill Environmental Education Centre website and fieldwork pack)

Urban Consolidation: is a government policy which attempts to reduce urban sprawl by increasing the population density in an area. It is intended to improve efficiency of services provision, reduce our car dependence and limit the need for land used for housing. Urban Consolidation is the most popular in city centres and along transport routes but is increasingly being integrated into the housing mix for most suburbs. Urban consolidation projects are often located on former brownfield sites. Brownfield sites are derelict or abandoned industrial and commercial centres.

Pyrmont/Ultimo is a suburb in the inner-west of Sydney that underwent mass urban renewal. Formerly one of Sydney’s industrial heartlands, the suburb experienced urban decay and blight until the government-led City West Urban redevelopment program (now administered by The Department of Planning and the City of Sydney Council. This long-term program initiated in 1991 was part of the Commonwealth Government’s Better Cities Program.

At the turn of the twentieth century the Pyrmont Peninsula was a heavily populated industrial maritime area. It was the location often referred to as ‘Sydney’s backyard’, home to its abattoirs, the Walter Burley Griffin incinerator for the disposal of the city’s waste, the famous Pyrmont sandstone quarries and the CSR sugar refinery. The area was a storehouse for primary products, especially wool.

Like many growing cities, Sydney began decentralising and from the late fifties, industry relocated away as much did much of Pyrmont’s population. The gradual change left an industrial waste land restricting access to the most important of Sydney’s natural assets- its harbour.

The City West Re-development project aims to reduce the cost and environmental degradation associated with urban sprawl. The project will increase housing densities and public transport use and encourage mixed use areas where people may live close to employment. The project commenced in 1992 and it is anticipated that approximately 17,000 residents and up to 26,000 workers will be based in the area after the 20 year redevelopment period.

Visit the Australian Bureau of Statistics2011 Quick Census Statistics to get information about Pyrmont’s population

View the film clip Concrete City to familiarise yourself with the history of urban renewal and consolidation in Pyrmont.

Visit NSW Planning and Infrastructure and view the film clip Your Future Sydney to learn about the new Metropolitan Strategy to manage Sydney’s growth and development.

“ Rebirth of Pyrmont “A 2001 corporate film made by The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. A great outline of the major features of the Masterplan for Pyrmont as well as some great archival footage (e.g. Sandra Sully in 1993)

‘Explain why and how the government has implemented its urban consolidation policy in Pyrmont and evaluate how successful this has been in improving the quality of the urban environment’.

Examples of Assessment Tasks:Listed below are a range of assessment tasks which are designed to help you prepare for the Urban Places case study topic for the HSC.

How successful has the implementation policy been in achieving livability in Pyrmont ?

Analyze the impacts of an urban dynamic operating in a country town or suburb. In your answer:

a) present a sustained logical and well structured answer to the question.
b) communicate geographical information ideas and issues, and
c) refer to appropriate case studies, illustrative examples and fieldwork where appropriate.


a) Locate the Pyrmont study area. Locate precisely in relation to the metropolitan Sydney
b) Outline the methods of your fieldwork, pre fieldwork, actual fieldwork and post fieldwork.
c) Using all notes and your text explain why the state parliament pursed a policy of Urban Consolidation at Pyrmont. Include details of the City West project.
d) Analyze the positive and negative impacts of the dynamics of change at Pyrmont.
e) Answer the fieldwork question ” How successful has the implementation of the Urban Consolidation policy been in ensuring the planning principles of livability are achieved in Pyrmont”. Consider goals of Equity, Environmental Quality and Economic Efficiency.


a) What Urban Dynamics are operating in Sydney’s CBD and its foreshores?
b) Give examples to explain the experimental and research methods used on this excursion.
c) Use examples to give a broad outline of Sydney’s socioeconomic and cultural character.
d) Discuss the main functions of Sydney and why they are indicators of Sydney’s role as a world city.
e) Use the examples of Ultimo Pyrmont to discuss whether you consider urban consolidation to be a successful urban strategy.


How successful has the implementation policy been in achieving livability in Pyrmont ?

In your answer include the following:

a) Name and locate the study area and give a brief background history.
b) Discuss urban processes and/or dynamics in the above area i.e. past present and future.
c) With reference to class information i.e. articles, sheets,broadsheets, videos etc and knowledge, outline the implications of the processes of Urban Consolidation on social well-being or livability such as: Access to employment,housing, leisure spaces, environmental quality (different types of pollution), infrastructure (such as transport shops and education).
d) Conclude your findings


Develop and implement a research framework investigating an urban dynamic operating in a country town or suburb.

When writing up your research, you should include:

a) a title that indicates the name of the selected urban dynamic and the suburb or country town being investigated
b) a statement, and map if appropriate, giving the location of the country town or suburb selected for the research investigation
c) a definition and brief explanation of the selected urban dynamic being investigated
d) a list of secondary resources relevant to the selected urban dynamic
e) the geographical inquiry questions being considered
f) the hypothesis being tested
g) an outline of the inquiry based methodologies used to test your hypothesis
h) the presentation of the data collected in a written and/or graphic form
i) a discussion of the research findings
j) an evaluation of the research framework.

Please note, your assignment should be a maximum of 5 A4 pages in written form. Diagrams and maps are included in these 5 pages. You may also include photos, questionnaires etc. as additional material.


Pyrmont is a good example of urban Consolidation involving social, cultural and economic changes. In considering the changes in this suburb, make reference to the following:

a) Why was this area chosen for redevelopment.
b) Who has been involved in the planning process and what have been the conflicting interests.
c) How has the suburb been redeveloped in the context of Urban Consolidation.
d) What have been the social, economic and environmental considerations.

Make reference to specific examples that you have studied or with which you are familiar. You should include include:

a) The name of the area studied
b) Location of the area studied. Include a map.
c) Outline the method of fieldwork that you used.
d) Explain why the state government implemented a policy of Urban Consolidation in Pyrmont. Include details of the City West project
e) Answer the question ‘How successful has the implementation of the urban consolidation policy been in achieving the planning principles of livability in Pyrmont’. Consider the goals of equity, environmental quality and economic efficiency.


Research the attitudes to urban renewal in the Pyrmont/Ultimo area from differing viewpoints. These include:

a) Long term residents
b) Governments, including state and local
c) Developers operating in the area.

In your answer you will be assessed on your ability to:

a) access a variety of sources using electronic and printed media, and choose material relevant to the task.
b) demonstrate an understanding of the urban dynamics as they effect different stakeholders.
c) present your findings in a report format


Using Prymont as an example of urban consolidation, to what degree has the social, cultural, economic and physical quality of life been preserved as a result of planning?


Discuss the impact of urban consolidation on the social structure, economic character and future development of Pyrmont/Ultimo

Format: Presentation of Field report that includes a contents list, detailed response to the topic using primary and secondary resources, listing all sources in a bibliography.

You should cover the following in your report:

a) Describe the impact of urban consolidation in relation to social structure, economic character and future development of Pyrmont/Ultimo.
b) Describe nature, spatial patterns and interactions of ecosystems, urban places and economic activity.
c) Identify impacts and responses to environmental change.
d) Evaluate the environmental, social and economic management strategies in terms of sustainability.
e) Describe and assess geographical patterns and processes using appropriate case studies and examples.
f) Apply maps, graphs, statistics, photographs and fieldwork to analyse data in geographical context.
g) Express ideas and issues appropriate written forms.


Using information from your fieldwork and your own knowledge, analyse the impacts of urban dynamics operating in Pyrmont/Ultimo.

The following are areas that you should cover in your response:

a) Social structure and spatial patterns of advantage and disadvantage in your study area.
b) Changing economic character, nature and location of residential land, commercial and industrial development.
c) Culture of place as expressed in the architecture, streetscape, heritage architecture, noise, colour, street life, energy, vitality and lifestyles.
d) Growth, development, future trends and ecological sustainability.

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