The NSW government wants to move the Sydney Fish Market and sell off the old site for apartments

Sydney Fish Market. Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

The NSW government wants to build a new $250 million fish market, pushing out into Blackwattle Bay just a few hundred metres from the existing site, which they want to sell off for apartments to pay for the development.

The government’s development arm, UrbanGrowth NSW (UGNSW), has signed a deal with the privately-owned Sydney Fish Market, which has been lobbying the government for more than a decade to improve the venue, the biggest fish market of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Around 2.7 million people visit the market, which has been there for 50 years, annually, selling 13,400 tonnes of seafood a year.

The new venue is expected to be double the size of the existing market and take over the existing concrete plant and adjacent dilapidated coal bunker wharves.

While there is no actual design – the government is calling for expressions of interest – NSW planning minister Rob Stokes says the new market will include levels under the waterline in a building with 35,000 square metres of floorspace, including 15,500sqm of retail space. The government expects the number of visitors to the market to double too, but had not revealed any plans for improved access to the already heavily congested area beside the Anzac Bridge.

Stokes said there will be outdoor dining seating for more than 3,000 people and possibility a rooftop bar. The wharves will berth the fishing fleet and recreational vessels.

UGNSW’s plan is part of its 2014 proposal to redevelop 95-hectares of government-owned land, dubbed the Bays Precinct, around the area.

An artist’s impression of the potential layout of the new fish market site. Source: supplied

NSW premier Mike Baird wants work on the new market under way by the end of 2018 and completed within two years. But to pay for it, UGNSW wants to build nearly 3000 apartments on the existing market site.

“The current facilities are tired and run down and upgrading and expanding the markets was a challenge that defeated the previous government,” Baird said, adding that the site will feature “world-class food and dining facilities” that will make it “a haven for foodies and tourists”.

The new market will not include any residential development, but its cost “will be offset by a mixed-use development on the site of the present fish market and car park”, the government said.

An artist’s impression of the new fish market. Source: supplied

Details recently emerged that UrbanGrowth NSW has already earmarked the area around the Pyrmont markets for 2760 new dwellings – double the density of Mirvac’s larger 10.6 hectare Harold Park development in nearby Glebe, an area also part of the Bays precinct redevelopment. There have been suggestions the apartment blocks will be up to 32-storeys high.

If the new fish market goes ahead, it would finally bring an end to years of unrealised dreams in the area, after an $80 million redevelopment of the fish market was first approved by the NSW government in 2005. Those plans were scrapped in 2009 as too expensive and in 2011, even a more modest plan at half the price was knocked back by the market’s tenants, despite the government offering $20 million towards the cost.

A $27 million 2010 proposal to redevelop the site now earmarked for the new fish market as a marina also failed to materialise, and last year, the Baird government rejected a $3 billion unsolicited bid from Chinese company Dahua, which already owns a quarter of the fish market, to redevelop the whole Blackwattle Bay precinct.

Sydney Fish Market general manager Bryan Skepper said: “We want to cement Sydney Fish Market’s position as not only Australia’s Home of Seafood, but also as a mecca for fresh and healthy food in Sydney and as a unique tourist destination that celebrates its heritage and role in the community.”

The location of the new fish market site is to the left of the existing location in Blackwattle Bay. Source: supplied