The Garden Island takeover

The cruise industry’s battle to oust the navy from Garden Island and turn it into a cruise ship centre took a new twist this week with the release of a Sydney-based architect’s plans to transform the base into a more people-friendly area.

The proposal – created by David Vago at Habit 8, a firm that has worked for Mirvac and Australand – includes plans for an overseas passenger terminal, 16.6 hectares of parklands, a 100-berth marina, holiday resort, ferry wharf, restaurant precinct and apartments.

Mr Vago produced a special design just for Cruise Passenger, with a cruise ship moored at its new berth.

But it does all come at a price: $20 billion plus.

He has Lord Mayor Clover Moore as a supporter. She sees great business opportunities in the area, particularly its potential to assist Australia’s $3 billion cruise industry.

“Garden Island is one of the last remaining accessible dock facilities near Sydney, and a serious opportunity for expanding deep-water berths for ships east of the bridge,” she says.

But the Liberal Party’s Malcolm Turnbull and Independent Alex Greenwich aren’t ready for things to change just yet.

“Sydney was founded by the navy and it would be a very sad day if that 227-year link was broken,” says Turnbull. “I have never seen any evidence that the huge cost of finding an alternative home for the navy and the dockyard would be justified by the benefit of using the area for different uses.”

After a meeting with Carnival Australia this morning, Vago said the company is “on board to push this concept”.

The estimated cost of $20 billion, Vago says, is just the price of land – the actual cost of the makeover will be “way bigger than that”.

What do you think of Vago’s plans?