BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS
The NSW Finance Minister has indicated that control of waterfront parkland in Pyrmont would ideally transfer to the City of Sydney, following the reshuffling of government authorities.
Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet met with City of Sydney Liberal Councillor Edward Mandla earlier this week, and told the councillor that transferring the park’s control to the City would ‘make sense’.
Ballaarat Park had been under the planning jurisdiction of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA), but the authority’s dissolution could see the City regain the planning controls it lost in 1992.
The City West Development Corporation took planning control from the City in the early ‘90s, who were then succeeded by the formation of SHFA in 1999.
City Hub understands that control of the land in Pyrmont will be given to Government Property NSW in the interim period, before possibly being given back to the City.
Clr Mandla told City Hub that the possible transfer would mean that there would be less bureaucracy and would give local residents more autonomy.
“With the Ballaarat Park, if you talk to SHFA, it is really difficult to talk to them about it. It was like it was all too difficult, but because now it is going to handed to Property NSW, and now hopefully, eventually the City, we can get somewhere,” Clr Mandla said.
Clr Mandla said he was impressed with how the government was removing duplication, and looking at ways to open things up to the public.
“There is two redundant parks there and the government want to make every possibility to make the park bigger. That’s good for everybody– it benefits residents, and it benefits the environment,” he said.
“[NSW Finance] Minister Perrottet has a particular eye for duplication, and realised there is nothing that the SHFA doesn’t do that someone else couldn’t do, with the specific examples including the City of Sydney, or Tourism NSW,” he said.
Clr Mandla said that the temporary transfer of control to Government Property NSW was a ‘good first step’, which would allow proper evaluation of who should manage the area.
The plan to dissolve the SHFA was revealed late last month, and generated a wide variety of reactions from local bodies around the inner city.
City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said she welcomed the move, as it could bring planning control back to the City.
Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne said that the absence of a central planning body around the habour could mean uncoordinated decisions and that it would be managed by a “glorified real estate agent.”
A statement from Government Property NSW said that a transition period had commenced, during which the details of any changes to harvour foreshore management would be “worked out”.
“The potential transfer of Ballaarat Park had recently been the subject of discussions between SHFA and the City of Sydney. These discussions will remain on hold while the transition of SHFA’s functions are finalised,” the statement read.
The statement indicated that the government would “continue to engage with the City of Sydney and other stakeholders during this period.”
“No decision has been made to transfer specific land holdings to local councils at this stage.”
Elizabeth Elanius of Pyrmont Residents Action Group told City Hub that residents wanted the City to control the park.
“It is certainly what the locals want. We have been pushing ever since the redevelopment of Pyrmont wound down, for the transfer of land to the City, and we just keep getting fobbed off,” Ms Elanius said.
The NSW Finance Ministry referred questions to Government Property NSW.