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Inner West Independent

White Bay fighting

Leichhardt Council is investigating avenues of opposition to the state government’s plans for Barangaroo, having passed a motion at its April meeting to approach City of Sydney and North Sydney Councils to investigate the possibility of working together to oppose “overdevelopment” and the move of the Cruise Passenger Terminal to White Bay.

Although not all councillors believed the matter should be considered urgent, Labor councilors Darcy Byrne and Lyndal Howison were the only two to vote against the resolution. “It’s not right that Council is planning to spend tens of thousands of dollars of ratepayers’ money on a legal challenge to a development at Barangaroo that has nothing to do with us, when there is no money for youth programs, affordable housing and sporting fields,” Cr Byrne said.

But according to Mayor Jamie Parker, Council is not seeking to take legal action, but rather plans to work through the NSW Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO), a not-for-profit community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law.

The decision to move the terminal from Barangaroo was based on several factors. These include the fact that the ‘Hungry Mile’ will be a significant construction site for a lengthy period of time; the customs and immigration exclusion zone means incompatibility between a terminal and the area’s future financial and commercial uses; and that the relocation away from there will allow the Government to incorporate a new CBD ferry hub into the Barangaroo development, as recommended by the Walker Inquiry into Sydney Ferries. Moreover, leaving the terminal at Barangaroo would upset the Government’s plan to have an uninterrupted 14km public foreshore walkway from Anzac Bridge to Woolloomooloo.

Independent Balmain councillor John Stamolis is united with the Greens, including Cr Parker and Deputy Mayor Michele McKenzie, in their opposition to the Barangaroo development and the relocation of the Cruise Passenger Terminal.

Cr Stamolis presented a lengthy notice of motion to Council last September, citing serious community concerns about traffic chaos, local amenity and foreshore access. He stated that, “the vast majority of passengers will be transported by bus/coach, taxi or private vehicle via Robert Street… adding enormous volumes of additional traffic… [creating] gridlock in this area.” He also noted there had been “no convincing reasons” to move the Cruise Terminal from its current location at East Darling Harbour.

Cr Stamolis was also stinging about the processes undertaken regarding the Bays Precinct Community Reference Group. “The Bays Precinct process was a complete farce – it was dominated by developers,” he said. “There was an eight-page booklet came out of it, after eight months of very paltry discussion. In the end we had to call the Minister [for Planning] and ask what was going on. And what is missing, above all, is the Masterplan for the Bays Precinct that the Premier promised in 2007.”

However, documents on the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority website indicate planning and consultation work on the Terminal’s relocation has in fact been completed. In a report to the Minister for Planning, the Cruise Passenger Terminal Steering Committee noted that while cruise ships were generally berthed by 7am, “peak traffic activity” typically occurred after the main morning commuter peak, with a similar lack of correlation in the afternoons.

Moreover, according to State MP for Balmain, Verity Firth, many of the local concerns are being addressed. She said there would be stringent height controls for any development associated with the Cruise Terminal, vehicles from White Bay would be routed under the Crescent onto James Craig Road (keeping traffic off Victoria Road altogether), and light and noise pollution would be minimised.

The State Government is said to be hoping for Planning Consent for the project to be granted by September 30, 2010, to enable a completion date of June 2012. The Environmental Assessment for the development by the Department of Planning is expected to be placed on public exhibition for comment soon.

by Jeremy Brown