This week Councillors voted on a Memorandum of Understanding with Urban Growth NSW on their plans for large scale development and ‘urban renewal’ at several key sites including Central to Eveleigh, Parramatta Rd and the Bays Precinct. While Urban Growth NSW is keen to work with the City on each of these projects I feel that current State Government has a poor record of promoting community needs and access to open space ahead of private interests.
You can read my speech to Council here.
The MOU which broadly outlines the planning processes for these three large scale re-developments. While the MOU provides ample opportunity for Urban Growth to consult with the City it hands all decision making powers to the NSW Government. I have grave concerns for community interests if these projects proceed under these terms.
Our experience with Barangaroo is an ominous sign of what may become a developer wish list. Affordable housing is a critical issue and increasing housing around transport hubs is a policy supported by the Greens where it is carried out in a sustainable way. My fear with the redevelopment of the Bays Precinct – an area that includes parts of Pyrmont, Glebe, Lilyfield, Annandale, Rozelle and Balmain – is that this land will become a gold rush for developers who are keen to tie up the last remaining waterfront sites in Sydney with luxury apartments for the top end of town.
The City has already entered in to a MOU that commits the Government to work together with the City to explore new approaches to affordable housing in the CBD. A joint project is currently underway with UTS to design strategic plans for housing diversity in the CBD.
I am always supportive of innovative approaches to affordable housing, however, I am concerned that these ‘urban renewal ‘ projects are moving forward without a clear goal or strategy to ensure that affordable housing is a key element of new development. This Government has demonstrated with its treatment of Millers Point housing tenants that it doesn’t believe disadvantaged people deserve to live on the Harbour. I sincerely hope this toxic attitude does not extend to the new Bays Precinct.
Central to Eveleigh is a project I will be keeping a close watch on. 88 apartments are already underway in North Eveleigh but for most of the precinct a concept plan is yet to be developed. The surrounding Redfern, Eveleigh and Surry Hills communities have a strong voice and I hope that they will get the opportunity to have an impact on these plans. The delivery of new housing is a priority for the Government, here at the City it is critical we get it right for the community.