Important Community meeting

MONDAY 4TH August 6pm Glebe Town Hall

RSVP Glebe Society Website via Eventbrite

We have been waiting for some time for the behind the scenes Government activity on potential development plans for the Bays Precinct to emerge into public view.

It has now emerged – in so far as the Government is now informing us that it has decided on a ‘major urban renewal project to create new housing, recreational, retail and tourism places’ through the Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Program.

This could be a terrific opportunity for intelligent and integrated planning to renew iconic AND LARGELY PUBLICLY OWNED harbour foreshores and bays. The renewal could ensure that the public interest is protected and has precedence in this development and that private development activity is commensurate with this. It could also ensure that ,consistent with existing planning principles, fast diminishing publicly owned harbour foreshore land is not alienated from public ownership by sale or long term lease. The community could be fully engaged in the process.

Alternatively, we could be in for another Barangaroo: typified by contempt for the public interest, decision making shrouded in secrecy and a development outcome which blatantly favoured private interests over that of the community.

Many of us have spent the best part of a decade trying to ensure the extraordinary public asset of these bays is not vandalised by government and developers. So far with limited success.

But now is time to re-engage. The statement from UrbanGrowth makes some positive statements about the community role and the community’s previous inputs. However, it makes no commitment to substantive engagement and flags a ‘summit’ of ‘global, national and local urban renewal specialists’ in November. The ‘outcomes’ of this will be ‘discussed’ with the community at a ‘stakeholder event in February”.

We have all been through such post-hoc ‘consultations’ previously. This will not do.

We are determined to be engaged from this point on.

As a start, we are convening a meeting of interested residents and residents groups and our parliamentary and council representatives to discuss the announcement.


The Bays Precinct (image:
The Bays Precinct (image:

Not another Bays Precinct public meeting!!

Yes, another meeting in the decade long advocacy. And we need it. Just perhaps we are at a major positive turning point. But, more likely, we are at a very dangerous moment.

There has been considerable publicity since the Premier’s announcement of the Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Project and our calling a public meeting. Elizabeth Farrelly was spot on in highlighting the kinds of concerns that have led us to call this meeting in a deservedly blunt SMH piece, ‘Down the Rabbit Hole with the urban growers’ (SMH 24/7/14). Her theme was the pervasive inability of recent governments –including this one – to distinguish between the ‘public interest’ and ‘private profit’. She has more than a small point.

A NSW Government’s decision to call for an integrated and strategic planning approach to the Bays Precinct renewal should be filling us with joy. We have been calling for just such an approach for well over a decade in increasingly desperate attempts to stop the one-off ad hoc deals that have typified Bays redevelopment to date.

There is nothing in the recent history of either the previous Labour or the current Coalition Governments to provide any confidence that the views of the public will be given any serious consideration or that the public interest in the redevelopment of these publicly owned iconic – and immensely valuable – harbour foreshores and bays will be given priority.

Nor is there anything in the Government’s triumphant announcements that might suggest this process will be different.

Considerable planning work has occurred within Urban Growth. We know nothing about it, nor who has been involved. Unsolicited proposals have been floating around – we have no information about their status. A summit is to be held. Someone is deciding on who will be invited. Presumably there is a clear concept brief of some sort to give guidance to these international and local experts. We are not privy to that. There is a long list of the kinds of experts who are being invited. It does not include any version of ‘community representatives’. No ‘community’ representative from either of the Government’s Bays Precinct Community Reference Group or Task Force has heard a thing – beyond a generic notice of the project and an assurance that our work will be considered.

But no need to worry: ‘The outcomes of the international summit will be put to the community at a stakeholder event to be held in February 2015’ (Press release, NSWNOW: the New State of Business). Not good enough!

The public meeting will consider core principles that must guide the renewal of this hugely important, publicly owned precinct and ways we can persuade, or force, the Government to include the public (‘the people’) in all stages of the deliberations around this project. This will include how best to engage a much broader Sydney-wide (even NSW-wide) alliance in this campaign to protect the public interest in the Bays Precinct Renewal project.

It will help if you can come along on Monday 4Aug at 6pm at the Glebe Town Hall.

The decision to call this meeting was made by a number of the community representatives on the Bays Precinct Community Reference Group (2009-10) and the BP Task Force 2013 who reconvened themselves on 26th May 2014 to discuss how to reinsert the community into discussions about the future of the Bays Precinct which were occurring behind the scenes. These community representatives were from the following community organisations: The Glebe Society Inc; the Balmain Association; Blackwattle Bay Coalition; Pyrmont Action Inc; White Bay Joint Steering Committee, Council of Ultimo Pyrmont Associations.