state library of new south wales
Much of Macquarie Streets traffic only occurs during business hours. Image: Eriksson Luo, Unsplash
  • The Macquarie Street East (MSE) Precinct Review calls for better sharing of the Precinct
  • Paul Keating and Lucy Turnbull led the review, commissioned by NSW government in 2018
  • Aims to attract visitors outside of business hours

The New South Wales State Government has released the Macquarie Street East (MSE) Precinct Review which provides recommendations on how spaces should be shared amongst the Macquarie Street East Precinct.

The Review was commissioned by the state government in 2018 and was led by former Prime Minister Paul Keating and former Lord Mayor of Sydney Lucy Turnbull.

The Review remarks there is a lack of public recognition of the surrounding’s area political, cultural and social history both before and after 1788, and this needed to be strengthened.

When announcing the findings of the Review, the New South Wales Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, notes that very few people visit the area outside of traditional business hours despite the historical significance of the area.

“This is an opportunity to be innovative and rethink how these spaces could showcase our city’s cultural and social history and attract visitors by day and by night,” he says.

“As a global city we need to have a culturally diverse night-time economy and Macquarie Street East has the potential to become a vibrant destination.”

Specifically, one recommendation calls for improving accessibility to the area with the rest of the CBD by adopting a ‘unified vision’ – comparable to Exhibition Road in London and Museum Mile in New York City.

Mr Keating hopes to see this in a form of linking historical buildings together within the precinct.

“The report provides a blueprint for the true consolidation of the historic triangle between the Art Gallery of NSW, the former Registrar General’s building and the State Library along the axis of Macquarie Street,” Mr Keating said.

Mrs Turnbull believes the revitalisation of the area could provide significant opportunities for the tourism industry.

“With the massive opportunities created by the transformation of the Art Gallery of NSW and the new Sydney Metro Martin Place into a major transport interchange, combined with our greatest early colonial buildings, the Macquarie Street East Precinct can become a more lively public space and cultural and social hub that also recognises and reveals our 60,000-year-old cultural heritage.”

Both Mr Keating and Mrs Turnbull have called for returning the Chief Secretary Building to its original purpose as an office for either the Premier and Cabinet or the Treasurer.

Mrs Turnbull does concede if this isn’t practical, the building preferably should be used for other government or cultural uses otherwise commercial use whereby ongoing or regular public access could be appropriate.

Don Harwin, Special Minister of State, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and for the Arts, said the release of the Review beings a roadmap that will lead to the reactivation of cultural venues in Sydney and the greater promotion of the area’s rich Gadigal Land heritage.

“Celebrating our heritage and bringing it together with our city’s vibrant culture will enable people visiting the Macquarie Street East Precinct to learn more about our history,” Mr Harwin said.

The development of a Strategic Business Case is now occurring which will help to identify the next steps to develop the precinct.

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