Australians for Sustainable Development (AfSD) welcomes the release of the report by the Independent Reviewers into Barangaroo. This review was instigated by the new State Government following legal action and the presentation of an 11,295 signature petition by AfSD which focused on deep community concerns regarding a number of issues surrounding this $6 billion development.
AfSD spokesperson and City of Sydney Councillor John McInerney said that while AfSD is grateful that this independent review has taken place, there are mixed feelings about the final results.
“The report contains some big wins for the community, although it could have gone a lot further.
“The Reviewers state that approval for the hotel in the harbour ‘had the effect of undermining confidence in a variety of related laws and decisions, and was therefore not good public policy,’ and should be reconsidered ‘as if the rezoning had not occurred.’ AfSD firmly believes this most unpopular and ill-conceived component of the whole development should not go ahead. Premier O’Farrell has stated his support for this recommendation, so hopefully the Government will begin negotiations with Lend Lease regarding relocating the hotel as a matter of urgency.
“The report also recommends that City of Sydney be given a formal role in planning the Barangaroo Central precinct as part of a new joint planning committee. The previous sidelining of the Council, as the body that will have to deal with the ramifications of the development for decades to come, was a complete travesty and a total disregard of due process. As a Councillor I look forward to the City working with the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) to achieve the best possible outcome for this site.”
Clr McInerny said AfSD was also pleased with the Independent Reviewers’ recommendation to moderate the bulk and scale of the two commercial buildings yet to receive planning approval.
“AfSD can only agree with the Independent Reviewers’ comment that ‘a raft of small and large mistakes and mishandlings, which taken together, have created an air of crisis around the development.’ The Reviewers’ concerns regarding the level of consultation, communication and transparency regarding Barangaroo have been of primary concern to AfSD and the community. AfSD supports the recommendation for a review of the membership of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority Board and for a new ‘face’ for the Board’s communication with the public.
“AfSD welcomes the Premier’s announcement of the appointment of Mr Terry Moran as the new Chair of the BDA, and believes this appointment and other recommended governance reforms will go a long way in addressing the Reviewers’ view that this ‘project has been bedevilled by perceived conflicts of interest.’ Also the Reviewers’ suggested reconsideration of the role of NSW Government Architect has great merit. ”
“It is important that the public’s confidence in the governance of this important development of public lands be restored. Premier O’Farrell taking responsibility as Minister for Barangaroo is an important step towards the Reviewers’ recommendation that the Minister for Planning be at arms length from this development.”
However AfSD still has concerns about a number of other issues with the project.
“Unfortunately the review doesn’t address the significant financial risks posed to NSW due to the cost of the headland park and the lack of commitment to transport solutions.
“The review gives no answers as to how the 23 0000 extra workers Barangaroo will bring to the City everyday will access the site without throwing an already strained public transport network into gridlock – the Government needs to come up with a solution to this as soon as possible. The Premier has announced a new taskforce will investigate the matter but development at Barangaroo must be carried out in sync with the delivery of transport improvements. We don’t want the project held up but, more importantly, we don’t want to see a development that cripples the City simply to meet a pre‐determined timeline.
“While not recommending against the headland park as such, the review does note that there aren’t any legal barriers to the Government changing this aspect of the plan. Given the cost of the project we would urge the Government to take note of this and seriously reconsider the faux naturalistic design of the park in favour of something more useable, accessible and reasonably priced, that conserves a connection with the area’s rich maritime heritage.”
Clr McInerny concluded by saying that AfSD was grateful to Planning Minister Brad Hazzard and the Independent Reviewers for making sure the review had been carried out in an objective and transparent way.
“While it contains a number of big wins for the people of NSW, this review is only a guide to how the development should proceed. AfSD will be closely following the project as it progresses to make sure all the positive recommendations put forward by the Independent Reviewers are acted upon in the spirit in hich they were intended,” he said.