OPINION: Lessons from Barangaroo

DEAR News Of The Area,

LAST week the Sydney Morning Herald ran an investigative series on what went wrong at Barangaroo, Sydney’s biggest urban renewal project to date.

It found that over many years the interests of the developer and private investors had taken precedence over the interests of the public.

The verdict generally was that Sydney had lost out to “the original sin of urban planning; the sale of public assets to fund infrastructure”.

With an election pending the Premier of NSW has seen the error of his ways and promised a new paradigm prioritising the public interest in future urban renewal projects.

He has even released a ‘Premier’s Priorities’ statement lauding the priceless community value of public open space, particularly in growing cities of increasing density.

In light of this it seems ironic that his government is presently proposing the changing of the “public open space” zoning of their Jetty land in Coffs Harbour to a “mixed use including residential” zoning in order, supposedly, to fund infrastructure.

So far the government has not stepped back one luxury unit in its determination from the outset to monetise that land to the maximum.

Perhaps the email hasn’t come through to their local agent yet.

One significant difference between Barangaroo and our Jetty, as Belinda Scott pointed out in NOTA last week, is that the only “industrial wasteland “ here is, in fact, the fenced off government land we couldn’t get our hands on (to, say, solve the parking problem).

The rest has long since been transformed by community effort alone into a successful, multi-functional public park.

For Gurmesh Singh to insist that we now demand this be turned into a front yard for the wealthy beneficiaries of his government’s proposal beggars belief.

Maybe he should check with head office.

Coffs Harbour.

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