Barangaroo is a unique harbour side site adjacent to the city. It provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create new foreshore parks and walkways that integrate with the CBD and to provide needed office accommodation, housing, shops and cultural venues. It is Sydney's opportunity to lead the world in design excellence and in creating a sustainable, low carbon community.
Last week I presented a petition to the House signed by over 11,000 people from my Sydney electorate and across the wider Sydney and NSW community.
The petition expressed significant concern about process, consultation, design and environmental impacts that need to be addressed.
I welcome Minister Hazzard's commitment to hear the community's views and review the Barangaroo project to get a better outcome.
The project so far has been railroaded under a secretive planning process that has lacked accountability and transparency. Barangaroo should have been planned in an accountable and consultative way by the City of Sydney as the city planning authority, with public meetings and open debate, with plans clearly explained and discussed, and with public comment progressively documented and acted upon.
Instead, decisions were made by successive Ministers under Part 3A, which has been an ongoing abuse of our planning laws, promoting backroom dealing that excluded communities. I led opposition against Part 3A in the Legislative Assembly and have opposed it every step of the way.
So I ask the new Government to act on its commitment to "scrap" part 3A and I call for a planning system overhaul that restores real community involvement, and strong environment and heritage protection.
It is equally urgent that the Government publicly guarantee safe and effective site remediation for Barangaroo. The site is severely contaminated and existing project approvals do not ensure the harbour is protected from pollution nor do they transparently provide for effective remediation to protect future workers, residents and visitors.
Earlier this year the former Minister for Planning transferred control of Hickson Road from the City of Sydney to the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, removing Council oversight of the clean up of contamination. The Minister also changed the law to overturn a court challenge so that normal contamination processes do not apply to the site.
I ask the Government to reinstate State Environmental Planning Policy 55 and require the proponent to demonstrate how remediation will comply with the Contaminated Land Management Act.
Notwithstanding previous approvals and contracts, I call upon the new Government to make changes to the project that would address significant impacts on Darling Harbour and adjacent city buildings. Currently the approved concept plan will result in a development that is too big and bulky, and that will block winter sun to the King Street wharf waterfront promenade.
While the proposed hotel in the water has significant and unsustainable impacts including overshadowing the waterfront promenade during lunchtime in winter and increased wind effects along the foreshore, there has been no project approval yet and the City of Sydney's assessment has identified a location on land in Block 3 that can accommodate the floor space approved for the hotel.
Two of the three commercial towers (C3 and C5) have not yet received detailed project approval and could be remodelled to significantly improve development outcomes.
Industry and the wider community support the petitioners' call to retain the Cruise Passenger Terminal on the site. It is an appropriate use from both a heritage and tourism perspective, and it can be achieved while providing extensive new open space and needed development.
In contrast to decades of best practice in other world cities, Sydney persists in embarking on large urban renewal projects such as Barangaroo and Green Square without guaranteed delivery of public transport before new workers and residents move into the new development.
I ask the Government to commit to increasing public transport, including extending light rail to the site. The estimated 30,000 workers coming to Barangaroo on a daily basis will not be accommodated by existing road or public transport, and it is essential that there are improved pedestrian links to heavy rail, as well as new ferry terminals, and light rail integrated into the project's construction.
While I understand the Government has indicated it does not endorse the petition's proposed Special Commission of Inquiry, I ask that the Government at least undertake an expert review of the project.
A review by persons with relevant design, financial and administrative expertise such as the NSW Government Architect, would identify further practical strategies to improve financial, design and sustainability outcomes. There are still significant opportunities for improvements, including renewed public engagement.
I joined the Barangaroo Delivery Authority Board in 2009 to try and get better outcomes for the project using City of Sydney expertise. I left the Board last year because the process had become less accountable, transparent and consultative.
The last straw was when basic financial information was hidden as commercial-in-confidence. I could not support this omission - it was my 2005 Freedom of Information (Open Government - Disclosure of Contracts) Bill that required publication of Government contracts with the private sector.
I ask the Government to release full financial and contractual information for the project and also to ensure that the commitment that the site be 'carbon positive' under the Clinton Climate Initiative program be honoured. This means the development will be zero carbon, water positive and have zero waste.
The City of Sydney has taken a strong position on Barangarooâ€”on transport, urban design, sustainability, connection with the CBD, active waterfront, and site remediation.
We held three community meetings in different parts of the local government area to explain the proposals and to document feedback.
We used the expertise of our planning staff to make detailed submissions every step of the way and we developed an alternative proposal that would provide improved design and amenity without compromising the viability of the project.
Baranagaroo is public land, abutting an iconic public waterway and significant public funding will be necessary to make it work and integrate with the rest of the city.
I call upon the Government to get Barangaroo back on track and make it the best it can beâ€”with transparency; accountability; public engagement; quality urban design, which respects city surroundings; and high environmental standards.