The Paddington Society was established in 1964 and has maintained its role as an active and effective resident action group. It is often considered the pioneering resident action group in Australia.

The founding members included John Thompson as President, Pat Thompson, Don and Marea Gazzard, Viva Murphy, and others. The Thompsons’ moved to Paddington when it was a neglected and deteriorating neighbourhood, and were drawn to its strong sense of community and cultural diversity. Paddington had already faced a direct threat in 1951 due to a planning scheme for the County of Cumberland, which proposed new zoning and roads for Sydney. Recognising the unique character and appearance of Paddington, Pat and John were determined to protect and preserve the suburb. A fortuitous meeting with like-minded residents led to the establishment of The Paddington Society.

The Society’s primary objectives, then and now, revolve around preserving Paddington’s environmental and social qualities with a particular focus on conservation and appropriate development.

The Society was (and remains) non-political and non-sectarian and has the following aims:

  • The maintenance of all features of Paddington, having beauty, architectural and/or historical value.
  • The preservation of existing open spaces and for the increase in open spaces for the health and enjoyment of the community in general.
  • The maintenance of harmony with existing architectural patterns where new buildings are constructed.
  • The prevention of disfigurement of premises, streets and open spaces by ugly advertisements, poles, wires and unseemly structures.
  • Protection of residents from noise and other nuisances detrimental to the quiet enjoyment of their homes.
  • Protection and enhancement of the amenities of Paddington.
  • Assurance of the safety and convenience of cultural amenities of Paddington
  • Encouragement of cultural activities.
  • Compilation and recording of the history of the area.

As appreciation for Paddington’s historical and aesthetic qualities grew, so did the urgency to protect them. The Society initiated coordinated protests against immediate threats to Paddington’s survival. These threats included zoning proposals in 1967 that promoted extensive demolition and high-rise development, along with the Department of Main Roads (DMR) plans to create arterial roads cutting through Paddington and West Woollahra from Oxford Street to New South Head Road, using Liverpool Street/Neild Avenue and Jersey Road.

Through public meetings and political lobbying, the Paddington Society garnered enough support to prompt a public inquiry into objections raised against the government’s planning proposals. Independent Commissioner Walter Bunning oversaw the inquiry, and after reviewing the submissions, he recommended against widening Liverpool Street.

In-depth research into the endangered area along the expressway, which contained the earliest concentrated residential and commercial settlement in Paddington, underscored the significance of what would be lost if the DMR’s plans were put into action. The submissions made during the inquiry helped persuade Commissioner Bunning of the importance of Paddington’s history and the necessity to preserve the suburb’s unique fabric.

Following the Society’s proposal, Commissioner Bunning recommended that Paddington, including West Woollahra, should be declared an area of architectural and historical significance. He also suggested that the entire Paddington area be protected through a new conservation zoning. As a result, the Paddington Society undertook the substantial task of crafting a preservation plan for Paddington, which was presented to Woollahra Council in 1970.

The Bunning Report released in 1968 and prepared by the independent commissioner was a positive result for the Society. Bunning recognised the merit of such proposals and recommended:

“That the Paddington Area, including West Woollahra, bounded by Ocean Street. The northern boundary of Moore Park Road, Oatley Road, Oxford Street to the eastern side of the new Barcom-Boundary road alignment and New South Head Road, should be declared a precinct of architectural merit.”

Despite the government’s endorsement of Commissioner Bunning’s findings, the plans to widen Jersey Road persisted and became more extreme. In response, the Paddington Society, which had seen a decline in activity after John Thompson’s passing in July 1968, reinvigorated its efforts and launched an organised campaign against these plans. Members played a key role in raising awareness about the road-widening proposals and coordinated a public rally that garnered widespread attention. As part of the Jersey Road campaign, Pat Thompson and Leo Schofield distributed rolls of black crepe paper to residents, who were encouraged to decorate their houses as a symbol of mourning for the threatened area.

This event drew thousands of protesters to Paddington’s streets and received significant media coverage. Ultimately, the Society’s efforts led to another official inquiry, this time led by Walter Abraham. In 1970, the Minister for Local Government supported Commissioner Abraham’s recommendation to oppose the widening of Jersey Road.

Over the years, the Society faced strong opposition while striving to preserve a row of cottages on Stafford Street. It played a vital role in discussions about the Royal Hospital for Women site, preparing concept plans resulting in the opening of a new park in 2005, enhancing the community and streetscape.

Recent focus has been on proposed developments at White City and Hakoah Club, Weigall Sports Complex, Allianz Stadium, Moore Park, Oxford Street East Cycleway proposal and its impacts on the High Street of Paddington. Understanding these complex development applications demands significant effort, and the Society benefits from the wealth of expertise of its members and others in the community.


  • Oxford Street East Cycleway

The Paddington Society believes that Oxford Street, between the Paddington Town Hall and Queen Street, is the ‘High Street’ of Paddington village. As a High Street each side of the street provides important and valuable facilities which are used regularly by local residents and visitors. An essential element of High Streets is the ability of pedestrians to easily access both sides without unnecessary obstructions.

  • Village Inn Hotel Glenmore Road

Together with the local community, the change of use from hotel to retail premises on the ground floor and offices on the first and second floors continues to be contested. The modifications also include changes to the shopfront, finishes, colours and identification signage. We share the community objections focusing on the loss of a vibrant facility that activates a precinct already overly supplied with retail outlets.

  • Paddington Heritage Conservation Area Working Party

Ongoing representation and submissions to Woollahra Municipal Council continue regarding strengthening and improvements to the Heritage Conservation Area Development Control Plan.

  • Oxford Street & Paddington Working Party

Involvement with this working party which serves as an advisory body to Council to support and drive the implementation of the strategies, actions and projects under the Woollahra Municipal Council Place Plan remains an objective of the Society.

  • Royal Hospital for Women Chimney Modification

The Society shares Woollahra Municipal Council’s heritage concerns regarding the proposed modifications, including the demolition of 7.9 metres of the upper brickwork of the heritage-listed industrial chimney. The chimney is a significant local landmark and one of the last remaining fixtures of the historic hospital.

  • Edgecliff Commercial Centre Redevelopment

Detailed submissions were made to Council to ensure that the proposed strategy moderates the vision for the ECC, including recommendations on key built form outcomes, land uses, heritage conservation, maximum building heights, active street frontages, affordable housing, design excellence, community infrastructure and transport.

  • Allianz Stadium Redevelopment and Concert Cap

The Society has supported the community in opposing the increase from the previously approved four major annual events to twenty without listening to community objections.

  • Oxford Street Cultural and Creative Precinct

The Society provided feedback to the City of Sydney Council’s proposal for additions of two storeys along the majority of Oxford Street properties, substantially increasing the existing scale of development. We support the revitalisation of Oxford Street while preserving its heritage and character but believe that the plan will irreparably degrade its character and the diversity of architectural styles.

  • Trumper Park

The Society provided input to the successful proposal to enhance accessibility to and through upper Trumper Park from Quarry Street to Bowes Avenue via a significant upgrade of its pathways, ensuring that people of all ages and abilities can comfortably enjoy access to the park and its facilities.

2010s & 2020s

  • Scottish Hospital Site Redevelopment

Aged care and senior living apartments, including green space, were supported, but the Society objected to the various Scottish Hospital proposals, including excessive height and bulk and the removal of substantial parts of the original gardens. The outcome renamed “The Terraces” resulted in a significant reduction in density of the residential component of the site and a doubling of the area of the adjacent Dillon Street Reserve.

  • Gugara Park, formerly Dillion Street Reserve

After Woollahra Municipal Council received the adjacent additional parcel of land from the former Scottish Hospital site, the Society and the community contributed to the process of re-designing the park. The final design, which resulted from thorough community consultation and feedback, includes footpaths, lighting, play equipment and extensive planting.

  • Retention of Existing Timber Cottages

Woollahra Council’s objectives to develop policy and controls for the retention of existing timber cottages in Paddington are strongly supported. All forms of timber buildings contribute to the diverse character of Paddington streetscapes and the aesthetic value of the conservation area. Timber buildings are also significant because of their rarity and historical association with the evolution of the Paddington Heritage Conservation Area.

  • Gordon and Newcombe Street Development

After consultation, the retail outlet was reduced in size and five more units were added along Gordon Street, with all vehicular access coming from Oxford Street and not from Gordon Street; this greatly reduced the traffic impacts on the local area and residents. The vacant site was developed for apartments and a supermarket.

  • 1-11 Oxford Street Redevelopment

Submissions were sent to the City of Sydney on the 1-11 Oxford Street redevelopment proposal for a major hotel development that included partial demolition of existing structures and retention of the existing façade. The Society has also had input into the conservation of Busby’s Bore within the site. Busby’s Bore is a heritage listed underground tunnel that supplied water to the fledgling city in the 1800s.

  • Hakoah and White City Redevelopment

Ongoing consultation with the community has continued, with repeated submissions to Woollahra Municipal Council to endeavour to create a range of controls to ensure that the development of the White City site was reduced in bulk and maintained as an accessible open space resource.

The Society raised concerns in written submissions to Woollahra Municipal Council and the Independent Planning Commission primarily related to building location and built form, view loss, amenity impacts, noise, traffic and parking, tree removal, and a lack of community benefit. Feedback from the consultation helped shaped the final design and the Commission imposed some conditions in response to adjoining residents’ concerns about the development’s amenity impacts.

  • Floodplain Risk Management Committee

Councils Floodplain Risk Management Committee was established as an advisory committee to focus on the floodplain management issues and adopted floodplain management program. The Society has provided ongoing input, advocating for regard for heritage and integration of engineering solutions with urban design principles and best practice soft water management in the upper and lower catchment areas in Paddington and Woollahra.


  • White City Redevelopment

The Society provided input into an alternative concept plan proposed by the previous owners of the site. Woollahra Municipal Council consequently prepared a Development Control Plan for the site.

  • Cross City Tunnel

Our plans for gateway works at Glenmore Road/New South Head Road, pedestrian crossings and stop signs at the Cascade Street intersection, footpath widening on Neild Avenue and narrowed roadway at Dillon Street Reserve were implemented by the RTA.

  • Paddington Reservoir Gardens

After extensive community consultation, the site was restored and transformed into a public garden by the City of Sydney in 2009. The site was saved from becoming a multi- storey carpark with a permanent conservation order placed on the site in 1999. Since the 1950s a number of attempts had been made to demolish the reservoir and use the space differently. These were met with long-standing community efforts by the Paddington residents to preserve the site and establish Reservoir Gardens.

  • Paddington Bowling Club

The Society opposed the original transfer of the lease on Crown land. The subsequent transfer in 2021 of 7,788 square metres of Crown land in central Sydney to La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council was a welcome outcome for the Aboriginal community.

  • Paddington’s 40km Speed Limit

For safety and amenity, the Society successfully lobbied for a reduction to a 40km speed limit throughout Paddington.

  • College of Fine Arts Redevelopment

In the Greens Road, Albion Street, and Selwyn Street precinct the community and the Society campaigned for a Masterplan to be developed for the entire site. In June 2004, the University of NSW announced that the University and the City of Sydney would work together on this strategy in consultation with the community. In April 2006, the Masterplan DCP was approved by Council and by 2008 community meetings were held to discuss the development. This resulted in less traffic in the residential streets and provision for substantial landscaping works to create an internal square within the campus.


  • Royal Hospital for Women Site

In the early 1990s, The Paddington Society took a proactive approach to the redevelopment. As part of the Reference Group set up by the Benevolent Society, Society members prepared and presented a concept for redevelopment of the site, which the Benevolent Society subsequently adopted. The plan provided a total structure and form for site development and included a 0.5ha park on Glenmore Road, now enjoyed by many Paddington residents. At the time, the process was considered a model for community engagement, achieving excellent results for the Benevolent Society and the community.

  • The Paddington Development Control Plan (DCP)

A separate detailed document was advocated by The Society and contributed to over decades by our professional experts via the DCP Working Party. It is now the reference document providing advice on maintaining our built heritage and neighbour amenity when upgrading and adding to dwellings and commercial buildings.

  • Stafford Street Terraces

A group of six Victorian ‘Gothic’ terraces in Stafford Street were saved from demolition following submissions by the community and the Society.


  • Juniper Hall

A grand villa built in the early 1820s was the home of Robert Cooper, a gin distiller. A hundred years later it was turned into flats and hidden behind a row of shops along the Oxford Street frontage in the 1920s. When further commercial development was approved in 1984, The Paddington Society and the National Trust mounted another very public campaign organising a rally and march along Oxford Street, leading to the eventual removal of the shops and restoration of the building.

  • Barcom Avenue

The RTA’s proposal to make Barcom Avenue a two-way street at Oxford Street to increase its use as a distributor road was defeated after submissions from the Society.


  • South Paddington Traffic management

Five streets comprising Regent, Ulster, Newcombe, Stewart and Elizabeth Streets were closed after lobbying, to prevent constant rat-running from Oxford Street to Moore Park Road. This created improved amenity for residents.

  • Glenview Hotel Site (adjacent to Reservoir Gardens)

Sydney City Council purchased land on the corner of Oatley Road and Oxford Street, formerly the site of the derelict Glenview Hotel. It was developed into a park area alongside Walter Read Reserve and included a memorial fountain to John Thompson, poet and founder of the Society.


  • Saving Paddington

A vigorous campaign was mounted in the mid-sixties, saving Paddington for recognition as a place of heritage and architectural merit and combatting proposals to widen several streets to increase arterial traffic flows. The proposals for widening of Liverpool Street and Jersey Road would have resulted in the loss of multiple terrace houses and the wholesale destruction of the historic street layout, threatening the fabric and substance of Paddington as a heritage precinct. After much campaigning by the Society, formed in 1964, the proposal was rejected. Read the full story in Paddington: A history.