The ‘bays area’, an 80 hectare former automobile dock on the west end of the Anzac Bridge, is up for grabs.
The State Government has promised a “master-plan” for the area, inciting community groups to unite in a call for a cohesive plan to maintain public ownership of the foreshore.
A public meeting was held at Wentworth Park on Wednesday last week, at which dozens of concerned residents endorsed the Objectives and Principles established by the Community Reference Group.
The CRG’s membership includes representatives from more than 25 stakeholder groups including The Glebe Society, Blackwattle Cove Coalition, The Balmain Association and Sydney University Women’s Rowing as well as local residents.
The Group formed in July last year to advise government on the community’s wishes for the area.
A year later, they presented a framework they say has “extensive” consensus behind it. It’s demands include: continuous bike and pedestrian access from Pyrmont Point to the end of White Bay, protection of remaining public ownership, the maintenance of a “contemporary ‘working harbour’” and the return of headlands (such as Glebe Island) to public use through conversion into parks.
It also specifically calls for the government to “exclude private housing from direct foreshore frontage and, except for the Rozelle train yards corridor, restrict housing to a lower order priority within the precinct”.
The Group also wants a dedicated Bays Renewal Authority to replace the “fifteen government agencies” currently involved in the precinct. They demanded, however, that any such group, as well as having sufficient expertise and operating according “to relevant planning, heritage and environmental legislation”, would be accountable to community wishes.
They called for the state government to “act on its promise to set up a second stage of the Bays Precinct Consultation process to finalise the development of an integrated strategic plan for the Precinct in 2010.”
The public resolution presented at the meeting endorsed these principles and called for the State Government to “adopt these Objectives and Principles as the basis for an integrated strategic plan” and to stop “one off ad hoc planning/development decisions”.
Speakers voiced concerns that the State Government would ignore the proposals, with Glebe Society President Lesley Lynch saying bluntly “they can’t be trusted”.
They referred to other areas where community groups have been consulted extensively, only to be finally ignored just as extensively.
By Austin G. Mackell