The community campaign around the Bays Precinct is about to move into a new phase.
As previously advised, the Minister’s Bays Precinct Community Reference Group (CRG) provided its formal advice to Government on the 1 March. In line with our terms of reference, we produced a set of strong planning principles for the Bays and, in addition, a preliminary set of ideas for future integrated uses of the Bays precinct consistent with these principles.
We also urged the Government to put a hold on one-off, ad hoc developments until an integrated vision/plan for the Bays can be developed AND to ensure that the one-off developments that are to go ahead (eg the passenger cruise terminal at White bay, the B1, B2 wharves, Fish Market and Banks Street developments) are implemented so as to be consistent with the CRG planning principles.
The CRG also recommended the establishment of a dedicated Bays Precinct authority to replace the multitudinous authorities currently responsible for the area. This is an absolute prerequisite to any improvement in planning approaches and will be a centre piece of our ongoing campaigning. A valuable additional product of the CRG, was a highly professional and detailed illustrative plan for the Future of The Bays Precinct developed during the CRG process by 5 of its community members- showing what an imaginative and strategic approach to this spectacular site, using the CRG principles, can look like.
This impressive document sets a standard as to the kind of integrated, imaginative vision and planning we expect the Government to develop for this spectacular site. The overall CRG advice, including the exemplary Future of the Bays (though not necessarily the particular activities suggested) was endorsed without dissent at the its last meeting. The full advice can be read on the Glebe Society website – click here for the executive summary, or click here for the full report. If you want to get further information on the Government’s ongoing activities, browse to the SHFA website (http://www.shfa.nsw.gov.au/sydney-Our_places_and_projects-Our_projects-Bays_Precinct.htm ). We now have 3000 copies of a executive summary (thanks to the Minister and SHFA) which the CRG community representatives will use in their ongoing campaigning.
While we think we have done well to have hung in and achieved a wide consensus around this advice, we now face the formidable, but not hopeless, task of persuading the Government to act on it. Reigniting the campaign The CRG has been disbanded. We expect the Government to reconstitute an effective community advisory committee as part of its promised Stage 2 process in the second half of 2010, but there does not seem to be much clarity yet about what this stage 2 will constitute. In the interim, we have begun post-CRG campaigning.
Numbers of community groups are trying to keep the issues alive in the media and we managed to get good coverage of the CRG advice in both the SMH and the Inner West Courier in early March. With another CRG member, I briefed the City of Sydney councillors recently on the CRG advice and sought their ongoing partnership with the community groups in the forthcoming campaign to have our principles and recommendations taken up by Government. We have sought a meeting with the new Minister for Planning and the elusive Bays Precinct Taskforce and will be writing to Premier Keneally seeking her ongoing support. I have met and sought support on these requests from Verity Firth who, as both a member of the CRG and our local member, effectively intervened on our behalf with the minister at critical points, when the whole process could otherwise have broken down.
The Blackwattle Cove Coalition, of which the Glebe Society is a founder member, has met and discussed its role in this revived campaign. Our next major step will be to hold a public meeting in late May or early June to brief our communities on the CRG advice and the Government’s process and discuss ways in which the community can influence current developments in the Bays and get action on our recommendations. (This was a suggestion of the Glebe Society Management committee and has the obvious advantage of sustaining the alliances that were developed during the CRG process.)
This public meeting will be organised by some (and we hope all) community groups that participated in the CRG. We want to make this a high profile event to strengthen our capacity to influence the one-off developments that are already approved by Government, but to keep alive the long awaited commitment by the Government to move towards an integrated and far more strategic approach to planning for the Bays Precinct. As we all know, we have a once in a century opportunity to do something wonderful with 80 hectares of publicly owned land, 5 km of Sydney Harbour foreshore and major heritage items with exciting adaptive potential. We must not allow Government or others interests to squander this opportunity to properly plan a major phase in the ongoing transition of Sydney Harbour to its post industrial future. I don’t think it will be easy.
– Lesley Lynch, April 2010