Further to our recent report on this website of (20 August), where Glebe Society President Lesley Lynch was very critical of the State Government’s consultation process on the Bays Precinct, the Inner West Courier of 10 September had the following encouraging article:

The community campaign to give the people a say over planning for the bays precinct has won a major concession from the State Government.  Planning Minister Kristina Keneally agreed this week to let the Bays Precinct Community Reference Group examine all the major development sites on the foreshore, not just a few, as had been the case. Ms Keneally told the group on Monday the government had reversed its hardline position.

Leichhardt Greens Mayor Jamie Parker said it was a win for the community.  “It is clearly a backdown,” Cr Parker said. “There is no question that the original attempt to narrow the terms of reference of that committee – so we could not refer to Blackwattle Bay, Rozelle Bay or Rozelle goods yards – there has been a backdown on that.”

The reference group was established in June as part of the government’s consultation process.  But after just three meetings the group was on the verge of collapse when members threatened to pull out because the terms of reference were unexpectedly restrictive.  The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority told members they could discuss White Bay, White Bay power station and Glebe Island, not Blackwattle Bay, Rozelle Bay or the Rozelle goods yards.  With four participants openly threatening to quit, Ms Keneally fronted up to Monday’s meeting to address their concerns and put the bays precinct back on the agenda.

Glebe Society president Lesley Lynch said Ms Keneally had managed to ease some of her concerns about the process.  “We were very pleased and relieved that she reaffirmed the terms of reference as being the whole of the bays precinct,” Ms Lynch said.  The group was initially meant to meet up to six times, but Ms Lynch said after four meetings the group had not even begun to discuss options for the area.  “Essentially we are now at the beginning of the process,” Ms Lynch said.

“We can knuckle down and try to do the job.”

Despite the concessions, Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor Marcelle Hoff said many participants were concerned the group had no real power or purpose.  Many people felt the meeting was just a token gesture to appease people, to make it look like they had been listened too, she said.

White Bay Resident Consultation Group delegate Christina Richie told the Inner West Courier the entire process had been irretrievably compromised.  “Although the minister admitted that the whole bays precinct should be the context for this planning process, she indicated that the future of Rozelle and Blackwattle bays have already been determined by the government,” she said.  “The government has already determined much of the bays precinct.”

Independent Leichhardt councillor John Stamolis said the group needed to meet at least another four times for any meaningful plans to be made.  “Basically they forgot to set up a decent process,” he said. “It has failed as a result.”

First posted on 9 September, 2009