This week there has been much discussion of the City's concerns about modifications to the Barangaroo development.
The State Government has placed proposed changes, "Modification 8", on public exhibition and invited public comment. The plans aren't a 'modification' to the original design but rather a massive rewriting of the plans for this public land.
Modification 8 proposes to cut back public open space along our harbour foreshore to make way for a bigger casino. If accepted, the changes would prioritise gambling, a high-roller hotel and luxury apartments over a park on the harbour that would be free for everyone to enjoy. There is no social or economic justification that a gaming facility, high roller hotel and luxury apartments are preferred land uses to public foreshore parkland.
Building heights have soared from 170 to 275m and floorspace has increased from 399,800sqm to 605,911sqm. Despite these vast changes, there is no new community benefit. The plans propose a 54% increase in residential floorspace; an 18% increase in retail floorspace; a 79% in hospitality floorspace; and no new community floorspace.
There have also been changes the location of parkland, a reduction in the depth of the Southern Cove and increased car parking.
Far from trying to derail the development, the City of Sydney is spending more than $30 million to connect Barangaroo and the CBD. We want the area to be a success that all of Sydney can be proud of.
That's why I am calling for these sweeping changes to be given proper scrutiny and independent assessment to make sure they are right for our city. The modification should be measured against the original Concept Plan approval and not the many incremental modifications.
The development must maximise public benefit, not private profit. To that end, the City would like to see the casino moved back from the prime public harbourside land and in among the commercial development. And the building heights should be lowered to avoid overshadowing the Harbour and blocking the view of the Observatory.
We also need to leverage the development to include more affordable housing. If Barangaroo and the rest of the city are going to work properly we need to make sure that we have a mix of residents, not just the super-wealthy who can afford to buy a luxury apartment in Crown's proposed development.
In London, almost 30 per cent of all new residential development is affordable or social housing. At Barangaroo, that figure only needs to be "up to 2.3 per cent". That City believes that figure is too low and anyone who genuinely cares about the future of Sydney would agree.
An entirely new application should be submitted with new community consultation.
The new submission should be externally and independently assessed and determined by the Planning Assessment Commission - the state government already has a private agreement with Crown for the development so it cannot be objective