The Hon. Mike Baird , MP
Level 40 Governor Macquarie Tower 1 Farrer Place SYDNEY NSW 2000
BAYS PRECINCT URBAN RENEWAL PROGRAM: PEOPLES CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC GOOD
We are seeking an urgent meeting with you and the Minister for Planning on behalf of the communities surrounding the Bays Precinct – as instructed by a public meeting of over 200 persons held in the Glebe Town Hall on Monday 4th August.
The purpose of the meeting was:
‘Resolution 1: To call on the Government to ensure that the Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Project follows a democratic and open process which enables public and private interests to come together creatively and imaginatively to ensure that the outcome will be a worthy of the site and of Sydney’s status as a global city and properly protective of the public interest.’
To achieve this, Bays Precinct planning process must ensure:
a) Precedence is given to the public good as a driving overarching principle for the renewal of these publicly owned foreshores and bays;
b) That the community of Sydney is able to fully engage in all stages of the planning process;
[and 7 other principles]
You are likely aware of the groundswell of community anger and concern generated by your announcement of the BPURP on 17th July (Media Release Transforming Sydney: The Bays Precinct) and the related communication from UrbanGrowth NSW to some community members and organisations. (The Bays Precinct: Transforming Sydney’s Inner Harbour ).
We have been urging the development of an integrated, strategic renewal plan for these valuable and publicly owned foreshores and waters for well over a decade. We worked, with the Labor and the O’Farrell Governments through consultative and task force processes to achieve a strategic approach. Central to our engagement was the embedding of planning principles which would support high quality urban renewal outcomes for such an extraordinary site- while ensuring the public interest would be properly protected.
We should therefore have been able to celebrate the announcement of a Government decision to proceed with a high profile urban renewal project to transform the Bays- and indeed Sydney.
Instead there is widespread disappointment, anger and distrust.
The major reasons for this are:
- The dismissive and patronising exclusion of the people of Sydney from the announced process.
It is astonishing that the Government or its officials could consider it would be in any way acceptable to inform the community months after the Expert Summit of its outcomes – or to think that access to an online register of views constitutes community engagement and consultation.
The community is determined to have a real and influential role in every step of the urban renewal process of publicly owned lands and waters.
- There is absolutely nothing in either recent development history in NSW or the Government’s announced process for this project to give the people of Sydney any confidence that that the ‘public good’ will have precedence over private benefit in the decision making or that the people’s views as to what kind and level of ‘public good’ outcomes should be required of the project will have any influence.
- The composition of the UrbanGrowth Board, dominated as it is by developer and big business interests, is clearly not appropriate for the coordinating agency driving major urban renewal projects in NSW- and certainly not in relation to publicly owned assets.
The meeting made it very clear that, as currently composed, the UrbanGrowth Board is rejected by the community as a fit and proper entity for the purpose of protecting the public good in the redevelopment of the valuable Bays Precinct public asset.
A balanced board representing the diversity of stakeholders – including the people of NSW- would instil some greater confidence.
- Widespread dismay and anger at the systemic culture of corruption that has undermined our political and public service institutions- especially in the planning and development arena.
The community will fight to reintroduce real transparency and public scrutiny into every stage of the BPURP process as an essential protection against the corruption that flourishes in the current degraded political environment. Excessive secrecy is no friend of democracy.
Specifically the Bays Precinct communities request:
i) An urgent meeting with you and the Minister for Planning as requested by the public meeting on the 4th August:
‘Resolution 3a: The Premier and the Minister for Planning meet with the representatives of this public campaign before the planned Summit in November to brief them fully on the Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Project and to discuss the community’s anger and concerns about the announced process and the developer dominated composition of the UrbanGrowth board.’
ii) An assurance from the Government that you will amend your announced invitation list to the Expert Summit to include direct representation of the Sydney community
‘Resolution 3b: The Government invites a significant number of community representatives, including from the Bays Precincts communities, to the November summit so their expertise and the views of their communities can be incorporated directly into the proceedings.’
iii) The Government, in collaboration with the two most directly concerned Councils, convenes a People’s Summit on the Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Project before the Experts Summit:
‘Resolution 3c The NSW Government -in collaboration with the City of Sydney and Leichhardt Councils- convenes a People’s Summit preceding the November summit to allow direct and democratic participation in the shaping of the urban renewal process for the publicly owned foreshores and bays encompassed by the Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Project.’
We hope you will meet with us in the near future.
We invite you to work with the people of Sydney to make this highly strategic, urban renewal project for the Bays Precinct – part of the iconic Sydney Harbour- a pilot for the restoration of integrity, transparency, community engagement and respect for, and proper protection of, the public interest into NSW’s planning and development processes.
I attach the full set of resolutions from the public meeting on the 4th August.
This is a public letter and will be distributed to attendees at the public meeting and our community networks for their information.
Dr Lesley Lynch
Convenor Bays and Foreshores
The Glebe Society Inc
On behalf of the organisers authorised by the public meeting of 4th August 2014
Carolyn Allen (BPCRG member and President Balmain Association)
John Brooks (BPCRG member and Pyrmont Action Inc)
Dr Lesley Lynch, (BPCRG and BP Taskforce member and Glebe Society)
Professor Jane Marceau (BPCRG and BP Taskforce member and White Bay Joint Steering Committee)
cc. The Hon Pru Goward MP Minister for Planning
David Pitchford Chief Executive UrbanGrowth NSW
Attach: Resolutions from Community Meeting: Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Project to Protect the Public Interest