BY LUCAS BAIRD
A business owner in Leichhardt has said that government plans to rezone an industrial area for residential use will cost jobs and destroy local community space.
The Department of Planning and Environment recently decided to rezone land along Lords Road in West Leichhardt which will allow up to 315 residential units to be built.
The rezoning will close down Art Est Art School and Gallery as well as other businesses.
The owner of the gallery said she fears for the community’s “heart and soul.”
Director of the Art School, Jennifer McNamara said the closure of her business would have a devastating effect on the local community.
“When they close small businesses like mine, the martial arts and others, it’s like the heart and soul of the community has just died. If they close places like this where do we go? Where do our students go? Where do our families go? What happens to the local community as a whole?”
But Ms McNamara is not only concerned about the community, but also about the 20 employees who will lose their jobs if the Government follow through with the rezoning.
Leichhardt Mayor, Darcy Byrne recently indicated that the rezoning would remove rare industrial land from the inner city, costing jobs and the local economy.
“Council’s submission to the Government has made clear that the loss of one of Leichhardt’s few remaining parcels of industrial land at Lords Rd will cost jobs and services,” Clr Byrne said.
“The community is rightly outraged over a decision which has no planning policy justification at all,” he said.
The Council has organised a protest near Lords Road on the March 19 to allow the community to voice its displeasure with these plans.
“The Department are determined to send the bulldozers in to Leichhardt as quickly as possible,” Clr Byrne said.
“A community demonstration backed by Council is going to make sure that they feel the level of community anger over this before they do.”
Clr Byrne suspects that the rezoning was allowed due to the Government’s draft Parramatta Road Urban Transformation strategy, a document which he claimed has zero legal status.
“The truth is the Government’s Parramatta Road plan is at this stage nothing more than a glossy brochure,” Clr Byrne said.
“It is appalling that the Baird Government is now using graphic design as the basis for its planning policy.”
A Department of Environment and Planning spokesperson stated that the Lords Road planning proposal had been assessed against numerous programs.
These included NSW Government’s Plan for Growing Sydney and Leichhardt Council’s Employment and Economic Development Plan 2013 as well as the Parramatta Road plan.
“Following a recommendation from the Joint Regional Planning Panel, the Department determined that the Lords Road planning proposal had enough strategic and site-specific merit to proceed to Gateway,” the spokesperson said.
“The next stage for the Lords Road proposal would be submission for a Gateway Determination. If supported, the proposal would be placed on public exhibition for feedback from the community, Council and other government agencies.”
“All issues raised in submissions will need to be considered by the applicant before any decision is made,” they said.