Winning Civic Centre design scrapped

The controversial Beijing Institute design for a new Ryde Civic Centre has been officially thrown on the scrap heap.

The new Ryde councillors dumped the design on Tuesday night, despite it winning the previous (Mayor Pickering led) council’s international design competition and it’s Chinese designers pocketing the prize money.

New Mayor Jerome Laxale said reasons the Chinese design has been scrapped include an unacceptable reliance on 600 to 700 apartments, high rise towers and a blow out in costs.

“The winning entry from the International Design Competition has proved to be unworkable, as predicted at its inception,” Mayor Laxale said.

“The design competition itself has wasted well over $1 million in ratepayers money and our community has rejected 500 to 600 apartments time and time again.”

The Mayor also hit out at a previous council decision to transfer staff from the now abandoned Civic Centre to luxury premises at North Ryde – which was blasted by The Weekly Times editor John F Booth AM in a recent editorial – and which Mayor Laxale confirmed was costing ratepayers a “significant amount” of money.

“We need to end what has been a blight on our community,” Mayor Laxale said.

The Mayor has requested senior council staff to prepare a report on a feasible new Civic Centre which will include council chambers, administrative space, meeting rooms, a performance space and retail space.

“We will need to generate income from this site,” he said.

The Mayor did not rule out retaining and restoring the existing and vacant civic centre building but will await the staff report expected early next year.

He also gave an assurance that Ryde ratepayers and residents living next to the Civic Centre would be fully consulted and their opinions would be respected and valued.

The Civic Centre site has been a huge embarrassment for previous council’s with an initial concept promoted during the term of Mayor Artin Etmekdjian scrapped by his successor, Mayor Ivan Petch only to be followed by the politically plagued but award winning Beijing Institute design championed during the Mayoralty of Clr Bill Pickering.

At last all sides of politics can see a way forward with the council’s Liberal leader, Clr Sarkis Yedelian backing Labor Mayor Jerome Laxale.

“I agree with you on this,” he told the Mayor.

“This has been an on-going disaster but we do not want to sell any public asset to pay for this.

“If we are lucky, it will not cost us anything near the cost of our previous venture.”

Council is expected to talk with local Federal and State MP’s on funding options.

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