The Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) have declared that work on its controversial development is to continue as planned, despite the project being currently under review. This calls into question exactly what the review is intended to achieve.
I received the news at a BDA information session this week that the groundwork for the “naturalistic” headland park championed by Paul Keating, an underground carpark and other contentious parts of the development is all to begin in the near future.
Many people and community groups have campaigned long and hard to make this review happen. However if works have started by the time the findings of the review are handed down it will mean that the works will have to be undone, at great expense, or the review findings ignored if they recommend a different course of action.
The government justifies its position by saying that the review shouldn’t affect approvals that have already been granted. However these approvals were made under the notoriously dodgy “part 3A” planning laws that the Liberals rightly railed against in opposition. Now they’re in government it seems sadly that they’re all too happy to just let be some of the worst decisions made under those laws.
I am also concerned about a request that the BDA has put in to the planning department to change some of the already given approvals to further remove City of Sydney Council from the process. While the Labor government cut the Council out of most aspects of the development a few things relating to the headland park, like decisions on stormwater issues and park lighting, were left in Council hands. The BDA have asked that these last vestiges of Council input be removed from the process.
Taking away Council power and vesting it in the hands of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats was at the heart of Part 3A. It will be an important test of the Liberal government’s character to see whether they approve these 3A-style amendments and whether the review will result in any genuine changes to the highly contentious Barangaroo development.