Inner West Independent

Backlash against Bays Precinct development unfolds

The Bays Precinct. Source: NSW Government

Resident groups and local politicians have criticised the NSW Government’s Bays Precinct development announcement on the grounds it favours private development with little community input.

On Thursday July 17th, two years since The Bays Precinct Taskforce released its Strategic Framework Report, NSW Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minister Pru Goward announced a 30-year strategy for the revitalisation of 80 hectares of Sydney’s inner harbour.

The Bays Precinct comprises Blackwattle Bay, the Sydney Fish Market, Rozelle Bay, Rozelle Rail Yards, and the heritage-listed White Bay Power Station.

Part of the proposed redevelopment includes new housing and areas for recreation, retail, tourism, commercial and maritime use along the 5.5 kilometre stretch of waterfront in the Bays Precinct.

“The Bays Precinct is just two kilometres west of the Sydney CBD, and presents possibly the most exciting and ambitious urban renewal and city building opportunity in the world today,” Mr Baird said.

Mr. Baird labelled the land “an urban wasteland that is four times the size of Barangaroo”.

“Our plans to regenerate The Bays Precinct will deliver vibrant and dynamic places for cultural, maritime, recreational, retail, residential and commercial use,” Ms Goward said.

UrbanGrowth NSW, the government’s urban renewal authority, is leading the revitalisation of The Bays Precinct.

Rozelle Residents Action Group spokesman Mark Wallis said that whilst development of the Bays Precinct was “inevitable”, the government must take on board community concerns.

“Any development must be appropriate to the rest of the area. Our greatest worry is that what we are promised in the initial stages will not end up as the final result.”

President of the Glebe Society John Gray welcomed the government’s announcement but warned against letting private interests win out.

“The Government must ensure that the public interest is protected. Sustainable development must have precedence over economic development,” said Mr Gray.

“We are determined we will not permit another Barangaroo – with little consideration of community wishes, secret decision making and a development outcome which blatantly favoured private interests over that of the community.”

“We will not be Barangaroo’ed.”

Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne demanded the NSW Government avoid repeating the mistakes of the Barangaroo development in the Bays Precinct.

“The people of Sydney will be concerned that when Mike Baird says he wants to undertake ‘urban renewal’ of the Bays Precinct, this is code for letting developers run rampant through harbour front land,” Cr Byrne said.

Greens MP Jamie Parker also cited Barangaroo as an example of the NSW Government’s problematic attitude to development.

“This precious public waterfront land must not be another Barangaroo where deals for mates and behind-closed-door negotiations deliver profit for developers at the expense of the community. When it comes to development in this state we have seen time and again developer greed trump community need.”

Cr Byrne also expressed his desire to see social benefits for low-income earners and those displaced by the Millers Point evictions.

Property development industry group The Urban Taskforce believes the development will be a boon for Sydney’s burgeoning population.

“The Bays Precinct has been struggling for many years and it is a credit to UrbanGrowth NSW that a way forward is now occurring,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson.

The City of Sydney, a major stakeholder in any future development as a part of the Bays Precinct Taskforce, warned that the NSW Government must deliver detailed plans for public access, infrastructure and building controls.

“The City of Sydney will be working with UrbanGrowth and the NSW Government to find the best outcomes for the future of this site over many years,” said a City of Sydney spokeswoman.

“The State Government should deliver a diverse mix of social and affordable housing in the area. An integrated public transport strategy should be developed, which examines the expansion of ferry services and light rail, while also maximising the opportunities of the future heavy rail.”

Mr Baird and Ms Goward also announced an international summit for November, inviting urban renewal experts from across the globe.

“By bringing together the best local and international expertise, we believe we can achieve a great outcome for the people of Sydney, while setting a new benchmark for what is possible in the regeneration of iconic urban destinations,” said Mr. Baird.

“The public and other stakeholders will also be asked to provide input as we develop plans to revitalise this area.”

Urban Taskforce noted that local expertise must be enlisted.

“While international experts are a good way to begin a project we also need to build in local experts who understand the climate and character of Sydney Harbour.”

The outcomes of the international summit will be put to the community at a stakeholder event to be held in February 2015.

The Glebe Society will be collaborating with other groups to convene a community meeting to protect the public interest in the Bays Precinct urban renewal project on Monday August 4.

 

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