Development for Sydney Botanic Gardens revised

Public opinion has led to changes to Sydney's Domain to be toned down.

Plans for the Domain, proposed by The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust earlier in 2014 as a 20-year blueprint, included a railway station, a ferry wharf, a hotel, a permanent sound stage and three new buildings.

The draft plan suggested a 100-200-seat cafe and function places at Bennelong Point at the foot of the Opera House and a vieiwng point at Mrs Macquaries Chair, which will now not go ahead. Also suggested was a 'sound shell' on the Domain, as well as a hotel. Some 58 per cent of respondees in a Community Consultation Report said they were concerned at proposals, with a loss of public space and commercialisation chief concerns.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating said: "I am pleased the Botanical Gardens Trust is responding to public opinion. Sydney Domain was never meant to be a fairground.

"The more we respect the natural Domain and provide less accommodation for spectacle the better."

The survey reveals upgraded pathways and signs, new science and education facilities and  enhancement of the landscape and botanical framework are most popular potential changes.

There were 31 submissions from key stakeholders, such as Sydney Opera House, City of Sydney and the Art Gallery of NSW.

Many who made submissions were keen to protect the site from commercial development, reduce events, and house botanic rather than commercial interests.

The trust receives about $21 million annually in state government grants for three gardens – the Royal Botanic Gardens, Mount Tomah in the Blue Mountains and Mount Annan – and raises about $25 million through its own revenue raising.

The review process will continue until the middle of 2015 before further public discussion.

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