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Areas of grass car parking to cease at Moore Park

Areas of grass parking will not be permitted at Moore Park. Photo: Saving Moore Park.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

NSW Minister for Planning & Public Spaces Rob Stokes announced that cars will no longer be allowed to park on the northern section of Moore Park to revitalise the area for the community.

Car parking will also cease on the southern end of Moore Park in 2023.

The announcement comes as Mr Stokes declared a new village precinct for Moore Park, whereby there will be more space for the community.

“We’ve seen how important green open space is to people during the pandemic and at Moore Park alone, there has been a 20 per cent increase in patronage in the last 12 months,” Mr Stokes said.

“Increasing and improving public space such as Moore Park is part of the NSW Government’s vision to create a city within a park.

“It’s also a huge day for the tireless advocacy of Saving Moore Park, and demonstrates the ability of Greater Sydney Parklands to deliver the parklands our community needs.”

Saving Moore Park embraced the decision.

“Moore Park has been the poor relation of Centennial Park for far too long with areas such as Moore Park north severely degraded,” a Saving Moore Park spokesperson said.

“So the Minister’s announcement also foreshadows a new era and new attitudes – where green space and associated facilities are valued for their benefits for the health and welfare of the community.”

Protecting Moore Park

Additional protection for Moore Park will be provided through the “upcoming Greater Sydney Parklands Trust Exposure Bill” that will make it an offence to park on the relevant sections of the Moore Park grass.

Late last year Saving Moore Park released a survey to gauge the community’s feedback on the organisation’s vision for the park.

Of the 372 people who responded to the survey, almost half used Moore Park either daily or several times per week. 95 per cent of respondents believed that cars should be permanently removed from Moore Park. 83 per cent said they would use the park more if there were shaded picnic and BBQ facilities, while 61 per cent supported Aboriginal and landscape interpretation.

“What our survey highlights is that people in the rapidly growing suburbs around Moore Park need, but are currently being denied, a first-class, properly maintained parkland, a place to relax with the kids, kick a ball, and play community football and cricket,” Saving Moore Park President Michael Waterhouse said.

Upon news of the announcement, Saving Moore Park said that they were looking forward to working with Greater Sydney Parklands to ensure the provision of facilities that reflects the community’s views. They plan for Moore Park to become a first-choice go-to option for the community.

Looking Back

Mr Stokes last year announced a new super agency, the Greater Sydney Parklands (GSP) agency, which would absorb 6000 hectares once managed by Centennial Park and Moore Park, Parramatta Park, the Western Sydney Parklands Trust, Rozelle’s Callan Park and Fernhill Estate. Mr Stokes said the aim of the agency was to find better ways to manage, restore and expand Sydney’s parks.

While the announcement came in July, the new agency was shrouded in mystery, with very little information offered to the general public. Stokes’ announcement was accompanied by a 50-year vision for the Sydney Parklands, created from community consultation concerning their values for the parklands.

The vision document offered minimal detail to the operations of the agency.

Plans to hand over Moore Park parklands to large Australian sporting organisations were revealed in 2016 when the ABC obtained a promotional video made by the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) as part of a pitch to the NSW Government to obtain all of the parklands around the SCG.

First hints of developments to take place at Moore Park came through the installation of the Tibby Cotter walkway, which suggested a bigger plan was at play. The walkway appeared to be a way to activate pedestrians from Moore Park West to the SCG.

While the walkway remains today, most SCG patrons avoid ‘the Bridge to Nowhere,’ preferring to use the traffic lights that allow pedestrians direct access to the Sydney Football Stadium (SFS).

The next stage of construction was the destruction of dozens of Moreton Bay fig trees to make way for a light-rail extension.

The final extension of the Sydney light rail network opened in April last year, with patrons now able to ride the L3 extension from Moore Park to Kingsford.

The Moore Park light rail station was largely constructed to serve the precinct and its amenities, including the Entertainment Quarter (EQ), the SCG and the Moore Park golf course.

The establishment of the GSP agency was met with heavy scepticism in Moore Park and Centennial Park, where various community members and organisations, including Saving Moore Park, have worked to protect their parklands.

The announcement also came after a faction of businesspeople led by Gerry Harvey and John Singleton signalled their interest in a billion-dollar investment for the EQ in 2017.

Mr Harvey purchased the leasehold over the EQ in 2014 as part of a consortium including Mr Singleton and spoke of his optimism for the site.

Plans as part of the park’s 170-page 2040 masterplan document included an underground carpark next to the SFS, with that particular development being confirmed by Mr Stokes in his announcement.

Proposed new carparks also will aim to improve Upper Kippax, so that works can begin immediately. These works will transform the damaged field into “a community green with a central sports field, shaded walkways and picnic amenities.”

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