Bays Precinct plan must be about more than housing targets - Labor's vision is an open, diverse and connected precinct

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The Bays Precinct urban renewal project provides a once-only opportunity for the imaginative reshaping of a large part of the Sydney Harbour foreshore in the public interest - and must be about more than just housing targets, the Labor Opposition said today.

Shadow Planning Minister Luke Foley joined with Labor’s candidate for Balmain Verity Firth and Leichhardt Councillor Darcy Byrne to outline Labor’s vision for the Bays Precinct - an open, diverse and connected precinct, with a distinctiveness and character consistent with its harbour location and its history.

“The Bays Precinct project provides a unique opportunity to reshape a part of Sydney steeped in history and framed by the natural beauty of the harbour,” Mr Foley said.

“It has the potential to unlock 5 kilometres of foreshore, inspire cutting-edge urban design, protect and revitalise an irreplaceable part of the nation’s industrial heritage, enrich our city’s cultural and artistic life, and further enhance Sydney’s status as a global city.”

“Central to delivering on this vision must be genuine community consultations within an open, democratic planning process that prioritises the public interest above private commercial gain,” Ms Firth said.

“We have only one chance to get this project right and build what should be Sydney’s next great public estate.”

Mr Foley announced eight strategic planning principles that will guide a future Labor Government’s urban renewal of the Bays Precinct:

  1. Continued public ownership of foreshore lands and harbour waters that are currently publicly owned;
  2. The maintenance and extension of public access to and along the foreshore;
  3. Ecologically sustainable development of the Precinct;
  4. Commitment to increased public open space;
  5. Ongoing maritime uses, including rowing and recreational boating;
  6. A component of affordable housing consistent with NSW Government policy;
  7. Creative adaptation and re-use of key heritage items such as the White Bay Power Station and Glebe Island Bridge; and
  8. Transparent and open planning processes that fully engage the community and experts alike.

In July Premier Mike Baird announced that an international summit would be held in November ‘to hear from world leading urban renewal experts about the best ways to revitalise the area,’ and that a detailed plan will be presented to the Government in early 2015.

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance declared yesterday that approximately 16,000 new dwellings will be constructed in the Bays Precinct. The neighbouring suburb of Glebe currently has 7,200 dwellings, and Leichhardt and Annandale combined have 11,200 dwellings.

“The Government has put the cart before the horse, revealing the day before the Summit begins that it has already made up its mind about housing targets for the Bays Precinct,” Mr Foley said.

“The idea of an international summit of experts is a good one, but not if it’s all just a ruse to deceive the residents of NSW into believing this government has a vision beyond development at all costs,” Ms Firth said.

“The Liberals’ target is the equivalent of building more than two new suburbs into the heart of an already densely developed area,” she added.

“The population density per square km in the City of Sydney LGA is 16 times the Sydney metropolitan average. For Leichhardt Council LGA, population density is 12.5 times the Sydney average,” Councillor Byrne said.

“And the Baird Government’s new dwelling target for the Bays Precinct comes on top of the new 50,000 target for new apartments on Parramatta Road.”