City Hub

Access denied: Darling Harbour locks locals out

BY LUCAS BAIRD

Community group Pyrmont Action is “enraged” with the lack of access and community consultation regarding developments in the Darling Harbour area.

Convenor of Pyrmont Action Elizabeth Elanius said there has been no government consultation, and much of the area’s development since 2012 has been carried out in “secret.”

The Darling Harbour Precinct has been under extensive development since 2012, with several new buildings and facilities currently under construction.

But residents of the area see this as a continuation of the shutting off of Darling Harbour from the rest the city, claiming that access is becoming more and more limited.

Convenor for the Pyrmont Action Group, Elizabeth Elanius, said she was going to stop participating in the government’s community consultation.

“I’m on the community liaison group, and I am so enraged by the whole thing now that I’m not going to the next meeting,” Ms Elanius told City Hub.

She said that the precinct had become difficult to access from surrounding areas, which were going to get worse going into the future, particularly from Pyrmont and Ultimo.

“The previous access ways over Darling Drive have been demolished and will not be reinstated.”

“What happens now is that pedestrians and cyclists have to take a lift down to Darling Harbour and have to try and find their way out again to get to the city,” she said.

She said acces was made more difficult with the removal of pedestrian overpasses over Darling Drive, the non completion of the Fig and Wattle Street walkway direct to the City, and the refusal of RMS to install crossing lights across Darling Drive which favour pedestrians, not vehicles.

Ms Elanius said that she blamed Infrastructure NSW for the lack of access.

She claimed that Infrastructure NSW engaged in a “secret” phase of planning to develop a restrictive design brief for developers.

She said that the design brief was developed in secret, and that no community consultation occurred. She said with that design brief, a very limited tender went out, so as the community were kept in the dark.

“Subsequently, everything we have been asking for has been answered with ‘that is not in our design brief’.”

A spokesperson from Infrastructure NSW told City Hub that they have participated in extensive consultation with the local community since 2012.

The spokesperson said they plan to increase pedestrian accessibility in the near future.

“A new 20 metre wide pedestrian boulevard will run north-south through the precinct, connecting all parts of ICC Sydney and linking the Darling Harbour waterfront with the south of the city and Central Station.”

“The urban renewal underway at Darling Harbour will reinvigorate this much loved precinct, opening it up and reconnecting it to surrounding areas by improving pedestrian accessibility,” the spokesperson said.

“New east-west connections, including Tumbalong Place and Harbourside Place, will also connect with the western side of the city,” they said.

Whilst no official response from the developers of the site, Lend Lease, was received in time for publication. A spokesperson for the developers said their projects will increase accessibility for the area.

But, Ms Elanius said she was having none of it

“When the government first came in, we were promised that planning powers would be returned to the people,” Ms Elanius said.

“We are powerless to change anything what so ever.”

Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, sympathised with Ms Elanius’ opinion.

He said that pedestrian access is being “undermined.”

“Promises to improve pedestrian links with the city and Pyrmont/Ultimo are being undermined by emerging towers facing the harbour with their backs turned on adjacent areas and cutting residents off visually as well,” Mr Greenwich said.

“I’ve asked questions in Parliament and made submissions to the Department of Planning and will continue to oppose overdevelopment in this precinct.”