Labor renews call for independent probity review into Newcastle's East End towers development


Shadow Minister for Planning Luke Foley will join Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp and concerned residents this morning to renew Labor’s call for an independent probity review of the controversial 17-storey towers proposed for Newcastle’s historic East End.

The proposed three high-rise towers breached the existing height limits contained in the Newcastle Renewal Urban Strategy. However, four weeks ago the Minister for Planning approved a controversial amendment to the relevant State Environmental Planning Policy, to increase the height limits at the site from 8-storeys to 17-storeys, with potential for 20-storeys.

“When I questioned Mike Baird in budget estimates last week about the Liberal Government’s changes to height limits in Newcastle’s East End, he was completely dismissive of community concerns about the entire project,” Shadow Minister for Planning Luke Foley said.

“The issue that remains of concern is that UrbanGrowthNSW, which has put forward the proposal for these mammoth towers, is a government agency that reports to the Planning Minister.

“How can the community have confidence that with the Minister, both the developer and the regulator, that a fair and impartial decision has been made on this proposal?

“Despite strong community opposition, this is a project that has previously been supported by the former Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy and the former Liberal Member for Newcastle Tim Owens– we can only restore confidence by undertaking an independent probity review.

“Unfortunately Mike Baird rejected my suggestion to appoint retired judge David Ipp to investigate the decision making process to date – why won’t he back up his Sorry Tour with real action to restore community confidence?”

Labor Canddiate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said the revelations coming out of the ICAC raise a number of serious questions about the process that has allowed these decisions to be made and an independent review was the right course of action to start to rebuild community confidence.

“Luke Foley and I will be meeting with concerned residents to discuss this matter and renew the call for an independent probity review – our concern is that Mike Baird is hell-bent on pushing through every decision that has been made without checking it was made for the right reasons.

“If the Liberals have nothing to hide, then there is absolutely no reason why an independent review cannot be undertaken - it will give the community peace of mind that the best interests of Newcastle and its residents have been at the heart of planning decisions in Newcastle.”