Revamp of Campbell’s Stores at The Rocks to be altered after remains of old building found

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The redevelopment of one of Sydney’s oldest and most important sites at The Rocks has had to be changed after the remains of an 1830s warehouse were discovered.

The heritage-listed Campbell’s Stores is undergoing a revamp by private developer Tallawoladah – and backed by hospitality company Dockside Group – which has a leasehold on the Campbell’s Cove site. It has now lodged plans for a new look for the “Bay 12” area at the northern end of Campbell’s Stores, where the remains were found, and that was to have been an outdoor seating terrace.

The remains include a block of sandstone paving and wall footings found 1.2 metres below ground. They are associated with a bond store and sea wall built in about 1832 and demolished in 1911, before Hickson Road was constructed.

The new design, by JPW Architects and TTW Engineers, will display part of these remains through a window, with two public viewing areas, according to planning documents submitted to NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

It replaces an outdoor dining terrace that was to be reserved for the new eateries that are set to operate within the three-storey Campbell’s Stores. That outdoor dining space will be relocated nearby.

A spokesperson from Property NSW confirmed that the revised design would include a viewing window of the relics to “ensure they are visible to the public”.

The developer and architects could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

Previously, a controversial four-storey “glass box” building for high-end retailers had been proposed for the same Bay 12 area next to the Park Hyatt Hotel. It was ditched after the concept drew strong opposition from the community.

The plans are part of Tallawoladah’s $32-million upgrades of the Campbell’s Stores, which have not been redeveloped since the 1970s.

The revamp, which started in August 2017, will bring in 12 restaurant, café and bar tenancies, ranging from 50 square metres to 700 square metres each.

Complementing this restoration are the $15-million improvements of the Campbell’s Cove promenade, next to Circular Quay, which started this month.

Works include levelling and widening the existing promenade to 10 metres, as well as adding a waterfront leisure area and amphitheatre for public events.

Dating back to 1839, the Campbell’s Stores site is one of Australia’s most historic sites and oldest surviving warehouses. Built by Scottish-born Robert Campbell, it was part of a trade and international shipping hub from the mid to late 19th century and stayed in the Campbell family’s hands until 1876, when they sold it to the Australasian Steam Navigation Company for £100,000.

The Campbell’s Wharf, made up of a house, the stores, warehouse and wharf, was valued at £1,000 in 1845.

After the Overseas Passenger Terminal was established in the 1960s, Darling Harbour and Pyrmont took over from Campbell’s Wharf as the new commercial shipping hub. The site was then redeveloped as a restaurant precinct.

The Campbell’s Stores restoration is expected to wrap up mid-2018, while promenade upgrades will be completed later this year.

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