Posted by & filed under City Hub.

Plans to demolish a small park to create a walking path through Surry Hills for World Youth Day pilgrims were shelved after a local protest on June 11.

The City of Sydney now intends to build a ramp with rails over the garden bed at the bottom of Parkham Street.

Greens councillor Chris Harris was among the people who threatened ‘peaceful but determined resistance’ to stop the destruction of the park with its raised garden, trees, grass and a wide walkway.

The idea was to create a walking trail so the pilgrims could walk down Parkham Street, cross South Dowling Street into Moore Park and proceed to Randwick Racecourse.

‘They were going to demolish the garden bed,’ Cr Harris said. ‘All of Albion St is closed to traffic from Elizabeth to Flinders St. The pilgrims could walk up Albion and into Flinders and to Moore Park.’

At the early morning protest, about 60 residents of Parkham Street and nearby streets complained that decisions had been taken to lock down their suburb for a private religious festival, without consulting them. 
 
They said the pilgrims could easily walk through Surry Hills streets as football and cricket fans have done for decades without extensive street closures.
 
They also wrote to Premier Morris Iemma and Cardinal George Pell to express their dismay. 

Cr Harris said he did not know how much the ramp would cost the City of Sydney which he said was supporting World Youth Day already for an estimated $2.2 million to $3 million. That estimate includes loss of parking revenue, staff costs to close streets and erect barriers and the use of several city venues such as the Paddington Town Hall and the City Recital Hall. And Cr Harris said a $150,000 bond ‘ the estimated cost of re-turfing the British lawn in Hyde Park North, which will be used for processing pilgrims around St Mary’s Cathedral ‘ was due to be lodged on Friday 13.