31 August 2015
(Support for Motion, 27 August 2015, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
Read Member for Balmain's motion HERE
I speak in support of the motion moved by the member for Balmain. I congratulate him on obtaining unanimous support from members in the House. His motion goes to the heart of what the local community has been calling for: the prioritisation of social and affordable housing, active and passive open space, environmental sustainability, community facilities and public transport links. The Bays Precinct expands 80 hectares of government-owned land from Blackwattle Bay to the White Bay Power Station, with five kilometres of harbour foreshore that is two kilometres from the central business district. It includes heritage items such as the Glebe Island Bridge and offers a significant opportunity to provide new infrastructure, housing and open space.
Since 2009 the Bays Precinct has been the subject of ongoing assessment to develop a long-term planning framework with community and stakeholder involvement. Stage one was conducted by the Bays Precinct Community Reference Group comprising community action groups, residents, businesses, maritime industries and unions, property owners, local government, State Government and the former member for Balmain. The community reference group met nine times and held working parties and a workshop. Its final report identified 11 objectives, with strategic planning principles to support each of them. The objectives supported integrated planning, public good, public open space, heritage adaptation, reducing impacts on neighbours, sustainable transport, diverse housing, design excellence, community and culture, a working harbour and environmental sustainability.
The Bays Precinct Taskforce was formed for stage two to advise on land use and a framework for moving forward, building on stage one consultation. The task force included representatives from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, New South Wales Treasury, the Department of Planning, Transport for NSW, Sydney Ports Corporation, Roads and Maritime Services, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the City of Sydney, Leichhardt Municipal Council, and the community. The 2012 report of the task force had broad community support and reflected the community reference group's principles for ongoing port and maritime uses, with residential development being secondary. Indeed, the task force stressed that residential development must not compromise port and maritime operations and that land should remain in public ownership.
In my electorate the task force identified continued use of Blackwattle Bay for maritime, commercial, recreational, boating and tourism purposes. There is massive community support for passive boating to remain on Bank Street and to have the site opened up with grass and trees for public recreation in line with its current zoning and Government commitments. An upgrade to the Sydney Fish Market in its current location is supported. There is widespread concern that the community-supported vision is being ignored and will be replaced with an entirely new process that will put private gain and profit ahead of public outcomes. Last year the Government held an international summit out of the blue and invited unsolicited proposals from across the globe. The community was excluded. In response to my request—which was also a request of the member for Balmain and the City of Sydney—a discovery day and people's summit were held, but it is unclear how community input will be used outside of delivering a few key necessities such as public transport.
Ultimately, people are worried about overdevelopment. Residential and commercial development now seems to be the planning focus. UrbanGrowth has been engaged. Its principal role is to allocate land for commercial and residential development. Government Ministers have referred to the potential for 16,000 new homes. High-rise apartments over the redeveloped fish market have been flagged as well as a "floating" foreshore walk, which indicates that the foreshore will be developed. The community does not want another Barangaroo, where long-term strategic vision has been overridden to increase private profits at the expense of public outcomes. The community must be involved from the outset and at every stage to establish a long-term vision for the site, with past work incorporated. Impacts on residents must be minimised. Pyrmont is Australia's most densely populated area and already suffers from congestion and insufficient infrastructure. We need a long-term vision that has, at its heart, public interest. I will work with the community and UrbanGrowth on this outcome. I commend the motion to the House.