by Sophie Stockman
Taxpayer’s money is being funnelled into controversial development projects that are restructuring the Moore Park precinct.
The development of entertainment and sporting venues within Moore Park are currently threatening the intended purpose of the space as a public area for recreational use.
The demolition proposal of Allianz Stadium is being pushed ahead by the Coalition government, who aim to have the project well underway before the state election in March 2019.
With the average crowd size only reaching 40 per cent of the stadium’s capacity, the redevelopment has been scrutinised for being an unnecessary use of taxpayer’s money.
President of the Paddington Society, Will Mrongovius, is outraged by the proposal to demolish the 30-year-old stadium.
“If the stadium is truly in such bad condition that it has to be demolished, then really the SCG Trust should be held liable for not keeping it maintained.”
“If the stadium is being run down, then trustees there at the moment haven’t done their job properly.”
The Hon. Don Harwin, Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities and Minister for Arts defended the Sydney stadium project during legislative council on 15 May saying:
“The Coalition was elected on a promise that it would make New South Wales number one again.”
“The cost of the stadium only represents one per cent of the amount that will be spent on health and education.”
Compounding the impact of the Allianz Stadium demolition on Moore Park and local residents is the proposal to redevelop the Entertainment Quarter complex.
In its master plan released last year, the government-established Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust outlined a vision for a commercialised sporting and entertainment redevelopment of the area.
However, local residents aren’t too happy about the developments.
Mr Mrongovius says that the Paddington Society is totally opposed to the proposed overhaul of the Moore Park precinct.
“All of these so-called developments are a threat to open space in Moore Park.”
“All these developers are trying to get a free ride by using Moore Park, and that has to be stopped.”
Mr Mrongovius thinks it is terrible that over $7 million of tax payer’s money is set to be spent on the redevelopment of Allianz Stadium when Paddington is in desperate need of other government services.
“It’s ridiculous that money is being spent elsewhere when what Paddington really needs is a public school.”
“The plan for the stadium is a complete waste of money.”
The consortium of business men and women who purchased the lease for the Entertainment Quarter precinct four years ago, known as Carsingha Investments, is planning to expand the Entertainment Quarter significantly in the future.
Consortium member, Gerry Harvey, told BusinessDay that potential for redevelopment was ‘endless’.
Carsingha Investments and the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust are reported to be in close discussion, exploring “more commercially orientated sport and recreational-based activities” for the precinct.
A spokesperson for the Centennial Park & Moore Park Trust says that proposed developments need to adhere to the Moore Park Master Plan, the relevant State Environmental Planning Policy, the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust Act and the lease for the Entertainment Quarter.
“Carsingha have not submitted a master plan to the Trust for endorsement.”
However, the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust is reported to be “working very closely” with Carsingha Investments over the future of the Entertainment Quarter.
Director of Advocacy for the National Trust, Graham Quint, is sceptical of the plans being made by Carsingha and the Trust for developments in the parkland precinct.
“Some of that area has been listed by the National Trust for many years, so to simply convert over to commercial development would be a step in the wrong direction.”
Mr Quint explained that the National Trust was scheduled to meet with stakeholders such as Carsingha and Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust regarding the development, but the meeting was unexpectedly cancelled and has not been rescheduled.
“The problem is that various proposals are kept a secret and aren’t consulted upon with the public.”
“We find out that bad things are happening often once they’ve already been set in stone, so it’s much harder to make changes then.”
Mr Quint said that the National Trust would be all too pleased to meet with the stakeholders concerned in the Moore Park developments so that everyone can find out what is really happening.
The consortium is reported to be currently negotiating an extension of the lease to allow for a $500 million investment into sport, markets, retail, offices and serviced apartments.
However, the Entertainment Quarter is organised under State Environmental Planning Policy No. 47, which limits the development to film, television and video related proposals under state legislation.
Independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, is strongly against proposals to commercialise the precinct.
“It is an outrageous betrayal of past commitments that promised to limit development and commercialisation of this public land.”
“The land was part of Macquarie’s original Sydney Common bequest set aside for public recreation and is needed now more than ever as surrounding populations expand and need additional open space to be healthy.”
The extension of the lease would have to be approved by the State Government as well as the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust for the proposal to commercialise the area to go ahead.