The now defunct White Bay power station, which Google have rejected as new headquarters Credit: Google commons

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BY SERKAN OZTURK
The dream of turning Sydney into our very own San Francisco has been thwarted, with tech giant Google abandoning plans to base its headquarters in the middle of the White Bay Precinct.

The billion dollar company last week cited the poor public transport in the area as the key reason for their decision to pull out of negotiations.

“Ultimately, the complexity of the project and the timing of associated transport infrastructure could not meet Google’s requirements at this time,” said a NSW government spokesperson.

The decision by the multinational web behemoth to pull out of White Bay as it newest tax haven has seen the NSW Government come under fire for its years of poor transport and infrastructure planning.

Local sustainable public transport advocates EcoTransit fired off a missive suggesting Google’s decision to back out lies solely with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her team.

“The Government’s become so fixated on underground metro as the solution for all of Sydney’s rail infrastructure deficits, it seems they clearly weren’t willing to consider other, more practical options,” said Colin Schroeder, EcoTransit’s co-convenor.

The public transport lobby group has been promoting an extension of light rail into the Bays Precinct since 2011 , claiming it would be much cheaper than a metro line.

“This could still be implemented, in a very short time frame – unlike the West Metro, which is still ten years away and appears to be playing second fiddle to WestConnex,” said Mr Schroeder.

The group is calling on the Government to re-enter into negotiations with Google if it wishes for the Bays Precinct project to be an asset for the city.

“The fact they haven’t bitten the bullet and extended light rail along it, has now lead to their key investor pulling out of the plan,” said Mr Schroeder. “There is a simple fix; build quality public transport, quickly, at very low cost and bring them back.”

The State Government’s development team at Urban Growth NSW is the bureaucracy charged with making money from the former wharf.

The project comprises 5.5 kilometres of harbour front, 95 hectares of largely Government-owned land, and 94 hectares of waterways in Sydney Harbour.

“The Bays Precinct will transform over the next 20 to 30 years into a bustling hub of enterprise, activity and beautiful spaces,” said Urban Growth.

“It represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver innovation and attract the jobs of the future for Sydney and NSW, equipping Sydney for the future and reinforcing its reputation as an internationally-competitive, resilient and prosperous global city to live, work and visit.”

  • Elizabeth Elenius

    At this rate I’ll probably be dead before the first sod is turned on the Bays Precinct. In the meantime, one of the key recommendations of the very expensive International Summit held 3 years ago – that Urban Growth implement “meanwhile” short-term projects to build community trust – has not been acted upon. For example, 1 Bank Street in Pyrmont (part of the Waterfront Promenade “destination”) remains locked up, while dragon boaters and other community maritime organisations camp next door, with no facilities. It would cost very little and take only a short time to decontaminate the buildings and make them habitable. But all our requests fall on deaf ears. It’s time the Premier ordered all the many government silos to get on with the job of working with the community to finalise the planning for the transport and social infrastructure required to support this massive redevelopment program. But the elephant in the room is the dreaded WestConnex which, if allowed to proceed with its plans for the area, will blight the Bays Precinct forever.