By Leanne Elahmad
Locals, planners, council members and advocates gathered at Leichhardt Town Hall last Sunday May 7 to discuss UrbanGrowth NSW’s plans for the Bays Precinct and the impacts it will have on the community.
The Bays Precinct has been the centre of controversy as UrbanGrowth has continually come under fire from the local community for the proposed density of the precinct.
The Bays Community Coalition invited guest speakers to engage the community in a range of topics including issues posed by the light rail infrastructure and the lack of planning for childcare, schools and sporting facilities.
Former Mayor of Leichhardt and member of the Bays Community Coalition Maire Sheehan said one of the most prominent problems was that the community were finding that data was “inaccurate” and were left to make assumptions, like whether there is a need for more schools and other facilities or not.
Transport was another issue raised on the day. Nathan English from EcoTransit Sydney advocated for the need to focus on introducing environmentally friendly transportation, stressing the benefits of eco-friendly public transport on both economic and health levels.
“Private motoring is the most expensive way of getting around, and fuel is only becoming more expensive,” Mr English said.
Mr English also questioned the high cost of building light rail in Sydney and said Sydney’s light rail was more expensive than anywhere else in the world.
Stephanie Croft, a researcher and parent discussed the importance of keeping schools in development plans because a continued influx of people to Sydney would see more schools reach capacity, meaning primary and secondary schools will be in high demand.
“When planning for schools it’s important to look at numbers of what they’re proposing to put in the area,” she said.
“We need proper planning – we need schools with spaces for learning and playing.”
Van Le is also a researcher and advocate for more childcare and before and after school care. She argued that working parents should not have to bear the burden of finding a place for their child at different childcares to accommodate them five days a week.
Glenn Vurge who works with various sporting clubs and helps to plan for sporting fields, believes active open space and sporting infrastructure is being ignored.
“A footpath or a nice tranquil walkway or pocket park is not usable active open space,” Mr Vurge stated.
While speakers at the meeting explored different views and possible solutions to the various problems posed by the Bays Precinct, attendees stressed that continued advocacy is needed to achieve these visions.