Residents and arts venues in Sydney’s Walsh Bay precinct will continue efforts to have their area officially recognised as a suburb after City of Sydney Council knocked back a proposal to have the area formally renamed as ‘Walsh Bay’.
A City of Sydney Council meeting last week saw all councillors except Liberal Councillor Shayne Mallard, reject the proposal backed by the Walsh Bay Precinct Association.
While the name Walsh Bay has gained extensive use in local parlance, half the precinct officially falls within the suburb of Millers Point, while the other half is in Dawes Point.
Lobbyists for the creation of an official suburb called Walsh Bay said Council had missed an opportunity to create a branded theatre district for Sydney along the lines of Broadway in New York and London’s West End.
Jim Warren, President of the Walsh Bay Precinct Association said: “There’s no doubt Walsh Bay has become Sydney’s theatre hub, with the Sydney Theatre Company (STC), Sydney Dance Company and Bangarra Dance Theatre all based here.
“It would be nice to have it recognised as such.”
Mr Mallard agreed, branding his fellow councillors’ decision as disappointing. “There was great support from the arts precinct to have an internationally identifiable name for the precinct, so this decision is certainly disappointing for them,” he said.
STC, which operates three theatres in the precinct, said the lack of an official suburb called Walsh Bay presented problems for the company. STC General Manager, Patrick McIntyre said: “As we operate three venues in Walsh Bay, the profile of the neighbourhood is naturally very important.
“These days, most cabbies can get you to Hickson Road, Walsh Bay but Whereis.com can’t find it, and I’m not sure about satellite navigation systems used by cab drivers and private citizens.
“As the area continues to develop and new people need to find their way here, this is a problem.”
Mr McIntyre said the STC was also concerned “emergency services won’t recognise the name unless it is officially a suburb”, a point also made by Mr Warren and Mr Mallard.
But the City of Sydney said the name change was rejected for “history and heritage” reasons, and asserted that Walsh Bay was already widely known as a locality.
“The City will investigate ‘wayfinding’ and signage measures to support this important arts and culture precinct,” said a City spokesperson.
“The City of Sydney has developed a strong relationship with Walsh Bay residential and business communities and provided support for [local] events … and organisations.”
Mr Warren said the Walsh Bay Precinct Association would continue to lobby for the name change.