Commit to the Bays Precinct

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The government says they want the Bays Precinct to be the jewel in Sydney’s crown - we need to hold them to it

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The Bays Precinct is made up of 5.5 kilometres of harbour front, 94 hectares of waterways in Sydney Harbour and 95 hectares of government-owned land, including unused land at Rozelle Rail Yards, White Bay Power Station and Blackwattle Bay. UrbanGrowth NSW has been tasked by the NSW Government to lead the transformation of The Bays Precinct. The Bays Precinct Transformation Plan was released in 2015 and included many of the recommendations from the City of Sydney.

However – the first cab off the rank in UrbanGrowth NSW’s proposed transformation is 5-11 Bank Street. We now expect that the Berejiklian Government will rubber stamp their modification application.

The proposed use as a commercial marina for party boats operating until 1am backflips on the Government’s longstanding promise to prioritise the site for community use.

 A short timeline:

  • In 2013, the NSW Government undertook to transfer the site to the City for $1 for community uses.
  • In 2014, they granted approval to Sydney Heritage Fleet for community uses including a museum, public foreshore walkway and dragon boating facilities.
  • Now, UrbanGrowth wants to “modify” the 2014 consent to ‘temporarily’ operate party boats including male strippers on the site for 10 years! Also in their proposal: 22 stacked shipping containers, doubling the number of vessels from 11 to 22, and increased operating hours to 7am-1am, seven days a week – all near sensitive residential apartments.

UrbanGrowth didn’t consult with the public before submitting their modification application – including with their own Bays Precinct Community Reference Group.

The proposal is significantly different to the original approved DA and should not be considered as a ‘modification’ – I’m still unsure how male strippers classify as “community uses”. 210 out of 220 submissions received by the Department of Planning strongly objected to the proposal.

This is a gross betrayal of public trust and makes a mockery of The Bays Precinct planning to date.

Last week, I wrote to the Premier to ask her to urgently instruct UrbanGrowth NSW to withdraw their modification application.

We all hoped The Bays Precinct could be a first for Sydney – an urban renewal where the public and local residents were genuinely listened to. But this is not a good start, and I hope they do better when they release their draft designs for the new fish markets and draft planning controls for the Bays Market District for public comment, expected in early 2018.