The White Bay area in the Bays Precinct, Balmain, is emerging as one of the favoured locations for the new offices of the global internet service providor, Google.

It is currently used as the main terminal for the P&O cruise ships.

While the company has been looking at the Australian Technology Park in Redfern and the Ribbon development at Darling Harbourm, the chance to plan a building from the  start, is said to be an attractive proposition.

Google has a leasing mandate for up to 60,000 square metres of office, which would allow it to consolidate its staff from Darling Island, Pyrmont's Fairfax Media, the publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald and GPT's Workplace6, known as the Accenture building, under the one roof.

UrbanGrowth owns the White Bay and ATP, and is looking to sell the properties. It has appointed Knight Frank on the ATP campaign, with suggestions Mirvac is a front runner.

Office agents said Google is keen to be involved in the development of its new offices, which are considered "quirky" and unique working areas. At Darling Island, it sub leases two floors, one of which has integrated a carriage from the former Monorail, as a meeting room.

The possible lease comes as office markets are moving into more positive territory, for both lower vacancies and strong sales volumes and values.

Simon Hemphill, NSW research director at Savills, said the influence of overseas investors in the market has undoubtedly had a profound effect in Sydney CBD, as evidenced by the high levels of transactions over the last 12 months.

"Indeed, the $4.7 billion of transactions over the last 12 months is the highest level of sales recorded in the last decade, eclipsing the combined total of $4 billion recorded in the 'halcyon years' of 2006/07," Mr Hemphill said.

"Recent interest in secondary grade buildings with either residential upside or redevelopment potential from both overseas and local investors has also created price tension. There are currently a number of secondary grade assets in the market that are earmarked for conversion to residential or hotel use.

"This will combine with an increasing lease expiry profile for the Sydney CBD over the next two years and the withdrawal of a number of commercial assets from the market that are earmarked for conversion. As a result, Savills expect incentives to come under pressure toward the end of this period."

Mr Hemphill said the future supply pipeline remains relatively constrained over the short to medium-term, despite a number of large commercial towers commencing construction during the last 12 months.

A majority of the new supply is coming from Barangaroo, which is closing in on being fully leased. It has been speculated that Westpac may lease more space as it over flows from its current 275 Kent Street headquarters.

The Savills research shows that while demand from the traditional finance and insurance sectors remains strong, the new information technology and business services' sectors are gaining momentum in demand for office space.

The two sectors combined accounted for 65 per cent of leases signed during the last 12 months totalling about 160,000 sqm.

The story Google has eyes on Sydney's White Bay first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.



A summit was held in Sydney in November 2014 to draw on the expertise of global, national and local urban renewal specialists to inform the renewal of The Bays Precinct. 

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance in his statement before the summit revealed plans for 16,000 new dwellings for the Bays Precinct. Council believes that the planning outcomes for this area were a done deal and that decisions had already been made behind closed doors without real consultation with the affected communities. 

Sixteen thousand dwellings in the Bays Precinct would effectively turn Leichhardt Council into the most densely populated council area in Australia. 

Council believes that:

  • any Master plan should be based on an open, transparent and evidence based approach; and
  • any Masterplan should: 
    - acknowledge the importance, size, location and unique circumstances of the site 
    - be climate positive by using decentralised energy and water cycle management 
    - respond to existing geography including built form patterns, headlands, views and vistas 
    - manage the transition from existing urban areas 
    - address traffic, parking and transport 
    - address integration of active and public transport 
    - address opportunities to establish pedestrian and cyclist connections between suburbs 
    - include integrated passive and active recreation spaces, including the need for foreshore access and access to water sports 
    - consider both working/non-working harbour land uses 
    - promote high quality public domain 
    - provision of affordable housing for key workers and public housing 
    - facilitate the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings including retention, restoration and utilisation of White Bay Power Station and Glebe Island Bridge 
    - ensure that future land use reflect the need to protect the amenity of existing residential areas 
    - improve biodiversity and protect and enhance indigenous heritage

What is Council doing?

Council is currently waiting for UrbanGrowth NSW to release ‘Guiding Principles’ that will be developed as a result of the summit. 

These will be posted on the website here as soon as they are made available.

Find out more at Urban Growth website

What can I do?

You can write to the NSW Planning Minister, Pru Goward on office@goward.minister.nsw.gov.au  or the NSW Premier, Mike Baird on manly@parliament.nsw.gov.au

    Upcoming Meetings

    Major Urban Transformation Projects

    The NSW Government has established the Major Urban Transformation Portfolio - a pipeline of complex large-scale urban revitalisation programs that provide infrastructure, housing, jobs, and economic and social benefits that support the government's broader objectives for the state. These city-shaping programs will promote and demonstrate world-class urban transformation that will benefit the residents of NSW.

    Click here (  http://www.urbangrowthnsw.com.au/work/urban-transformation-projects.aspx) to look at the projects that include Bays Precinct.