South Sydney residents have questioned the legitimacy of UrbanGrowth NSW’s consultation process over the Australian Technology Park (ATP) as it prepares to sell the site.
The sale has continually come under fire from the local community and the City of Sydney. Late last month, UrbanGrowth announced that five corporations had been invited to tender for the 14-hectare site in Redfern. The site allows for the development of commercial and mixed-use buildings of up to 11 storeys, and is a key site along the Central to Eveleigh corridor.
President of residents’ group REDWatch Geoff Turnbull said the community was amazed at the announcement that ATP was proceeding to tender as “the decision was made without there being any response to the issues that were raised”.
Mr Turnbull said there were “a whole host of issues” regarding the sale of ATP, including access to the site, density of potential developments, connectivity and heritage.
But an UrbanGrowth NSW spokesperson told City Hub that the decision to proceed with a tender for ATP was “made taking community and stakeholder feedback into account, including the City of Sydney’s review of the potential sale”.
“UrbanGrowth NSW is committed to genuine community participation in the development of an urban transformation strategy for the area,” the spokesperson said.
In December last year, the City of Sydney called for a review of ATP’s planning framework, and the independent review by HillPDA Consulting made recommendations on how the state government could “deliver outcomes in the public interest during the tender process.”
The report suggested that heritage buildings and assets remain in government ownership. It also stressed input from the community, the City, and government organisations to ensure the public interest, design and heritage remained paramount in development.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that community and Council have “significant concerns about the sale”.
“[It] may put at risk a clutter of innovative businesses, public access to the site for the local community and heritage buildings,” she said.
While the UrbanGrowth spokesperson said there were already mechanisms in place to address issues identified in the HillPDA report, Mr Turnbull said he believed ATP needed to remain in the public domain.
“I don’t think UrbanGrowth can provide the mechanisms that can stop the problems that have been identified in the Hills PDA report,” he said.
Additional measures are currently being developed to protect heritage and public access at ATP that will be “enduring and connected to the site, applying to all future owners,” according to the UrbanGrowth spokesperson.
Friends of Erskineville President Darren Jenkins also pointed to ATP as an important site for the development of information-economy jobs.
“We’re talking about a place in the ATP that was really set up to try to be the incubator and the sort of a hand up to those high-tech jobs of the future and those high-tech industries,” he said. The UrbanGrowth spokesperson said the Central to Eveleigh urban transformation strategy would reaffirm ATP’s role as a “key employer and incubator”.
Despite UrbanGrowth’s assurances, Mr Turnbull said the community is struggling to have faith in the consultation process for the Central to Eveleigh corridor when “at the present moment all these decisions are being made without addressing any of the issues that the community have raised, and we’ve made it most plain”.
Mr Turnbull told City Hub “[ It] may put at risk a clutter of innovative businesses, public access to the site for the local community and heritage buildings,”that UrbanGrowth has said they were prepared to have a conversation with the community about their concerns.