10 August 2011
The NSW Government has released the outcome of the review of the Barangaroo development.
The review concludes that “the fundamentals of the plans for the site are well-founded”, although the Department of Planning and the former Planning Minister displayed “hubris” in relation to their decision to approve development without following the requirements of SEPP 55 – Remediation of Land. According to the review, the Department of Planning and Lend Lease need to “upgrade their approach to consultation, communication and transparency”. The review decries the lack of an “effective, respectful relationship with the City of Sydney”.
The report says the most urgent issue is planning and development for the three commercial towers, and the report says that “there is no reason” why this cannot proceed. The review found that while the approval of the hotel over the harbour was “apparently consistent with planning law”, it was “not good public policy”. The review felt that “there should be more effort to provide affordable housing for key workers at Barangaroo”.
The proposed density and scale were “properly considered”.
Strangely, the report said that “there has been a lack of an independent ‘good design’ advocate supporting government”, although it went onto concede that it may just be a “perception” that there was no such advocate.
The report seemed to confuse the vocal minority of people who object to Barangaroo with the wider community. For example, it said that the process was “not well understood by the community” and that “the community” is “still concerned” about the “visual bulk” of the towers. As a result they recommend that further government-backed designed work take place, within the framework of the existing approvals.
At White Bay, the report recommends that non cruise ship uses of the terminal should be determined by Leichardt Council “in consultation with local residents”.
The review suggests a “rethink”of the “balance” of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority board and its “public face”.
Cabinet has agreed to the recommendation of the review panel that responsibility for the Barangaroo Delivery Authority be transferred to the Premier. This echoes a similar transfer of responsibility that occurred in the dying days of the Keneally Government that had initially been reversed upon the election of the O’Farrell Government.
Terry Moran, the outgoing Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, will be appointed Chair of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority Board, displacing Michael Collins who has been fulfilling that role.
Premier Barry O’Farrell says it is now important to proceed with planning and development and construction of the three commercial towers at Barangaroo to confirm investor confidence in the project. He said a taskforce, led by Transport for NSW, will develop an integrated transport plan for Barangaroo.
Negotiations will also take place on the location of the hotel over the harbour.
“I have never supported the concept of building the hotel over the harbour,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“So I am keen to pursue negotiations with Lend Lease to see if we can find a suitable alternative site which does not involve reclaiming land in the harbour.”