Inner West Independent

Master Plan passes with green tick

Johnston Creek Canal's shared pathway / Photo: City of Sydney

The Johnstons Creek Parklands Master Plan was adopted at a meeting of City of Sydney Council on Monday.

The decision partially puts an end to 20 years of uncertainty about the site, which was previously under the remit of Leichhardt Council before a 2003 boundary change.

Earlier in the year, Leichhardt endorsed a submission to the City of Sydney which was broadly supportive of the then draft Master Plan, including childcare facilities and a sporting area.

But some Leichhardt residents, backed by Greens representatives on Leichhardt Council, registered their objection to those buildings and said the Parklands needed to contain more open space.

City of Sydney Greens Councillor Irene Doutney told the Inner West Independent that attitude was understandable, but lacked balance.

“They’re coming at it from a different angle,” she said.

Statistics provided by Leichhardt Council showed the lack of childcare in that area was as critical as in the City of Sydney LGA, Ms Doutney said.

“We really have tried to balance it up to meet everyone’s needs,” she said. “Nobody is going to get 100 per cent what they want.”

Critics of the Master Plan argued the childcare facilities should be built on the adjacent Harold Park site, which is being developed by Mirvac. But Ms Doutney said the 500 square metres of space available in the tram sheds was insufficient, because it is a mezzanine with no immediate access to outdoor space and could only accommodate half the number of children required to make it viable.

“We’re committed to six new childcare centres [across the city LGA],” she said. “Right across the city there’s a baby boom going on. It’s a very pressing issue.”

Leichhardt Greens Councillor Daniel Kogoy, who fought against the supportive submission in May, says he is disappointed the childcare facilities are not at Harold Park because that site will be completed faster.

He blames Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore for failing to bring forward spending on the Johnstons Creek Parklands. Funding for the Master Plan to be actioned does not appear in the budget for 2013/14 or 2014/15.

But Mr Kogoy would not condemn Ms Doutney’s decision to back the plan.

“That’s the perspective the City of Sydney Council has taken,” he said. “They’ve got their own perspectives on that.”

The plan as it stands would add almost five hectares of open space to what is one of the greenest areas in inner Sydney, comprising Jubilee and Bicentennial Parks and the Harold Park site. The Parklands will ultimately consist of approximately 32 hectares of open space.

“We want to ensure there is enough green space for everyone in the community to get out and do the activities they love, whether it’s for exercise, walking the dog, having a picnic, or just relaxing under a tree,” a City of Sydney spokesperson said.

“The City of Sydney has not changed plans for the Crescent Parklands, which will have the option for the adaptive reuse of one existing building for a range of recreation and community uses, subject to further community consultation.”

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