(Private Member's Statement, 12 September 2017, Legislative Assembly NSW Parliament)
The Bays Precinct will undergo massive transformation to bring thousands of new residents, workers and visitors to the region. Tonight I call for a consultative, transparent and coordinated planning process to ensure the redevelopment is environmentally and socially sustainable.
The Bays Precinct covers largely government owned harbour land just two kilometres from the city centre. It incorporates the existing and future Sydney Fish Market sites and Bank Street waterfront land in Pyrmont as well as land in Rozelle, Balmain, Lilyfield and Glebe.
Planned populations for the region have not been made public although there are indications that the current Sydney Fish Market will accommodate 2,760 new dwellings. There’s a growing community view that concerns about overdevelopment and the potential overburden of existing services are being ignored.
Pyrmont residents are understandably sceptical after they were promised consultative planning for the Darling Harbour redevelopment. They attended forums and focus group sessions and made multiple submissions. Their fundamental concern was that pedestrian connections between Pyrmont and Darling Harbour be improved. I supported these calls in meetings with project officers and was reassured that connectivity to the site would be a priority. The project is now complete and access between Pyrmont and Darling Harbour remains inadequate.
Pyrmont-Ultimo is one of Australia’s most densely populated areas. Its roads, public transport services and schools are at capacity and it has very low levels of open space. If the adjacent Bays Precinct redevelopment is not properly planned and the region fails to provide new transport, open space and social infrastructure like schools, sporting facilities and affordable housing, services and infrastructure in Pyrmont and Ultimo will suffer significantly.
UrbanGrowth’s latest push for Bank Street provides little hope. After successive governments promised to transform Bank Street into a passive recreation destination, and plans for a Sydney Heritage Fleet workshop with museum, community space and harbour park were approved, UrbanGrowth secretly submitted a modification to instead turn this prime waterfront land into a storage facility for charter vessel supplies and rubbish.
There will be an ugly demountable building housing large rubbish bins, and shipping containers stacked up to the waterfront. Promises of a continuous public foreshore walk will only be achieved with a timber floating walkway.
The proposal is being put forward as a modification to the Sydney Heritage Fleet plan despite significant differences in activity. The modification was lodged after UrbanGrowth got the planning department to separate land and water activity assessments on the site, which conveniently makes approval more likely. The process smells of deals behind closed doors.
Years of visionary work through the Bays Precinct Taskforce, the Bays Precinct Strategic Framework, the Community Reference Group, the Bays Precinct Implementation Committee, the 2006 Bank Street Master Plan and the 2015 The Bays Precinct Sydney Transformation Plan earmarked the site for public open space and recreation, and the local community is concerned that other good planning principles will also be disregarded.
Residents ask whether Wentworth Park was added to the Bays Precinct project area to increase the open space ratio without providing new parks. Green open space is needed throughout the Bays Precinct, including within the redevelopment of the current Sydney Fish Market site through a publicly accessible harbour: not just a walkway!
How transport and traffic will accommodate new residents and workers is unclear as there is no traffic and transport plan yet. WestConnex plans do not account for the redevelopment with the Rozelle spaghetti interchange to expel thousands of cars into the precinct causing disastrous traffic jams on the already congested local road network. How will roads cope when the thousands of new residents and workers arrive?
The Bays Precinct needs to be vibrant and diverse and not an enclave for the rich, and this requires strong social and affordable housing targets. Barangaroo will only provide 2.3 per cent per 100,000 square metres floor space and this may end up off site. Targets of at least 15 per cent are needed to boost social housing close to jobs and services, and ensure people who help the city function like nurses and police can live close to work. The affordable housing model used in Pyrmont could be extended to the Sydney Fish Market site.
The Bays Precinct must provide new schools and sporting and health facilities given local services are already full and the redevelopment will increase demand.
The key principles of the 2005 community reference group opposing harbour land sell-offs and promoting public access must be honoured.
Only proper engagement with the local community and open and transparent planning will ensure the Bays Precinct is a great place to live and work, without impacting on surrounding communities.
Following my recent meeting with the Premier’s office and a delegation of residents, I again ask for a community point of contact to address residents’ concerns about Bays Precinct planning and to provide ongoing information.