06 June 2019
(Motions, 6 June 2019, Legislative Assembly, Parliament House)
The Government's Minister for Planning and Public Spaces is charged with expanding parks and green spaces. I hope this marks a new approach to managing Moore Park, which has been treated with contempt in the past. The Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust's recurrent funding was cut and Moore Park has not received any real investment in 30 years. Moore Park land is being lost to the light rail for the track, stops, substations, pedestrian bridge, portals, operations control centre and drivers' facility. Grasslands were previously removed for the Tibby Cotter bridge—which is rarely used by cyclists or pedestrians—and for the busway, SupaCentre and Eastern Distributor. The $4.5 million compensation for the Eastern Distributor never achieved its purpose to remove event car parking from Moore Park.
The Sydney Cricket Ground [SCG] trust has long seen Moore Park as its property: It attempted land grabs in 2010 and 2015. Many believe Sydney Football Stadium was purposely run down because building on Moore Park was planned. While the SCG trust is instead rebuilding the stadium on its own land, Moore Park remains at risk from this unpopular project and protections are needed. The new stadium will be much bigger and move directly adjacent to Moore Park and Kippax Lake. With the entrance on the border, crowds entering and exiting the stadium could relegate Moore Park to a mere extension of SCG lands.The SCG trust has already asked for pedestrian paths and wayfinding through Moore Park to connect the stadium with the light rail stop and Tibby Cotter bridge. This means paving over soft grass surfaces. There is a risk that touted "fan zones" will extend into the parklands.
The old stadium was designed to respond to its environmentally sensitive location. The seating bowl was sunk to reduce the scale and visual impact on the heritage and parkland setting. The building envelope of the new stadium is far more dominating on the landscape. At its highest point, the new stadium will be seven metres above the highest point of the old stadium, making it more visually intrusive on the parklands—Infrastructure NSW refers to a "monumental entry experience". Outlooks and views will be dominated by a bulky structure. Morning shadows on Moore Park will affect amenity and the natural environment.A 30-metre long media screen on the side of the stadium adjacent to Kippax Lake will cause significant audiovisual disturbance, including to bird species around Kippax Lake. The entrance of up to six metres of stairs facing the parklands will add further noise and disturbance from patrons.
Presentations to the Community Consultative Committee show event parking on Moore Park continuing in the long term, unashamedly disregarding the Moore Park Master Plan 2040 objective to permanently remove on-grass parking. The light rail projections see only 2 per cent of car users moving to light rail, with most patronage made up of existing bus users. I share community concern that the trust is working behind the scenes to undermine the master plan's parking goals. A condition of consent requires the project to identify ways to contribute positively towards and support the principles, moves, opportunities and strategies within the master plan. Complying with this condition must involve replacing on-grass car parking with integrated ticketing.
The stadium project is adding pressure to remove film-related restrictions on the Entertainment Quarter, which is part of Moore Park. When the showgrounds were relocated, the community accepted that the area would be used for film purposes and it must not become an elite sports precinct. SCG offices and the gym demolished in the stadium redevelopment have already moved in, after the Government changed the rules to overcome planning breaches and community opposition. A project-specific State environmental planning policy made the development complying after a development application was lodged. This is known as spot rezoning—a poor planning approach considered open to corruption and undue influence.
The Entertainment Quarter provides a rare opportunity to expand public recreation space in line with the Government's public places policy. Space for community recreation is in low supply and high demand, and this should drive planning decisions for the precinct—not the leaseholders' profits or the SCG's empire visions. The community will watch closely and oppose any creep into the important parts of Moore Park. Demolition and construction works pose short-term but significant risks to the parklands' sensitive ecosystem, which has already suffered from loss of old-growth trees for the light rail. Kippax Lake is directly adjacent to the work zone and it supports important wildlife, including native birds—last year five baby cygnets were born there. Moore Park trees provide habitat for native animals like possums, lizards and bats. Noise, dust and vibrations could impact seriously on their health and breeding.
Maximum noise levels for demolition and construction have been set at 75 decibels, based on the ambient noise levels of Moore Park Road, with no consideration of the impact on wildlife. The passive recreation standard of 65 decibels should be adopted. The purpose of the disgraceful Alexandria to Moore Park connector project appears to be to bring customers from the St Peters WestConnex Interchange to the new stadium. Road widening will remove over 100 trees and sacrifice more land. The erosion of Moore Park must end. New funds are needed in Moore Park to restore grasslands, plant vegetation and landscape for passive recreation and in the Entertainment Quarter for community sport. Our health and wellbeing rely on green open spaces and we must protect the parklands from alienation due to the Government's new stadium redevelopment and invest in Moore Park for its public open and recreation services. I commend the motion to the House.