By Nick Richardson
Concerns build over UrbanGrowth Memorandum
The City of Sydney has voted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UrbanGrowth NSW in support of the NSW government plans to develop the inner city. The move makes UrbanGrowth NSW the primary agency for the development and renewal of inner Sydney, including the Central-Eveleigh area, Parramatta Road, and the Bays precinct. However community group RedWatch is concerned that insufficient community consultation will lead to a development plan that does not reflect the wants and needs of a diverse inner-urban community. “Once the council enters into the MOU, it becomes much more difficult for council to talk to the community about it,” said RedWatch spokesperson, Geoffrey Turnbull. “Under the MOU there would be involvement from the Mayor, the CEO, and staff. Our concern is if council has all these people working with UrbanGrowth, who works with community to ensure their voices are heard?” RedWatch is also concerned the authority of Council to make decisions could be undermined by the MOU, a fear shared by City of Sydney Greens Councillor, Irene Doutney. “If the councils are assisting the states in development, it’s helpful for development,” said Cr Doutney. “UrbanGrowth is the landowner, developer and authority. If that isn’t a conflict of interest I don’t know what is. I wasn’t elected to represent developers, I was elected to represent constituents.” UrbanGrowth has begun conducting focus groups in the area. “The aim is to gather inputs from a wide cross section of community members, develop draft concepts for the corridor and specific precincts in the corridor, and then test these concepts on the wider community – all before the development proposal is lodged,” said a spokesperson for UrbanGrowth NSW.