By Lawrence Gibbons
It is official. Sydney is no longer a ‘City of Villages’. Following a raft of expensive community forums, focus groups and public consultations, the City has been re-branded, just in time for the upcoming local elections. Nowadays, the message coming out of Town Hall is that Sydney is ‘Green, Global and Connected.’ The old ‘City of Villages’ concept is yesterday’s news. Welcome to Clover Moore’s vision for 2030. No longer content to merely act locally, the Lord Mayor is thinking globally. An army of highly paid consultants have developed key recommendations on how Sydney can compete with places like Singapore and Hong Kong in luring global corporations to the city centre so they can send their profits offshore. Absent from the report are any substantive policy recommendations that would develop and nurture small businesses, who are the real engines of the local economy and whose profits stay in our village precincts.
But then according to the City’s new draft policy ‘Sustainable Sydney: 2030’ we no longer live in villages, instead we cluster in Activity Hubs. Comprising four or five old fashioned village precincts, an Activity Hub contains roughly 15,000 people per expanded precinct. Pyrmont and Ultimo are now called HS (or Harris Street in the outmoded village parlance), Darlinghurst, Paddington and parts of Surry Hills are now OS (Oxford Street of old), and Newtown, Erskineville and environs are KS (King Street) and so on. For obvious reasons, this publication is rather attached to the word ‘hub.’ But give us back our City of Villages. Activity Hub suggests that Clover Moore intends to relocate residents to globally owned, franchise run preschools and nursing homes. And we don’t want to go there.