Bays Community Coalition Calls for Transparency

Members of the Bays Community Coalition (BaCC) were unimpressed by the “one-off extravaganza” ‘Discovery Day’ held by UrbanGrowth NSW in the Bays Precinct last weekend, saying the event was more of an entertainment day than an opportunity for community input toward development in the Precinct.
Teena Clerke of the BaCC said she was disappointed that UrbanGrowth did not consult community groups regarding the event, especially after speakers at UrbanGrowth’s International Summit in November 2014 suggested that community involvement was key for successful development in the area.
“Despite David Pitchford’s personal assurance to me that it would happen, and despite every international speaker at the summit stating that any redevelopment had to engage existing communities about changes, UrbanGrowth have not bothered to contact any of the community representatives from the summit about their planned Discovery Day on Sunday,” Ms Clerke said.
Discovery Day invited residents to explore restricted areas along the Bays Precinct to “see what the Precinct is like today, uncover its past, and imagine its future,” a spokesperson from UrbanGrowth said, adding that public participation was “critical” to the program.
Activities included family-friendly entertainment from live bands, cooking demonstrations by the Sydney Fish Markets, art exhibitions and photography workshops.
A spokesperson from UrbanGrowth could not give a final estimate on the total cost for the event, but Ms Clerke said the day was “expensive, one-off entertainment, rather than extended open public access to the foreshores with community cultural involvement”.
BaCC volunteers attended the event and handed out nearly 700 flyers which outlined the current plans for development and called for community input in all stages of the planning process to avoid the “problems that plagued Barangaroo and Pyrmont”.
Proposed development in the area includes the construction of 16,000 new apartments and $14.5 billion spent on roads within the planned WestConnex interchange, bringing nearly 30,000 more residents into the area.
Ms Clerke said one of the main concerns of the BaCC is the lack of plans for public infrastructure to be built alongside the new development.
“All this and no mention of public and active transport networks. No plans for or space to build hospitals, schools, child and aged care facilities, sporting fields, open recreational space or cultural facilities for existing residents, let alone new residents and visitors,” she said.
Damien Hawcroft of the BaCC said many community members expressed similar concerns to volunteers at the event.
“The majority wanted to talk about their own bad experiences with development in their suburbs, particularly with regard to lack of social infrastructure. There was a general skepticism about UrbanGrowth and their commitment to a balanced approach to development — that is social infrastructure being part of the initial development,” he said.
In an April 13 press release, UrbanGrowth NSW Chief Executive David Pitchford said a strong turnout at the event “sent a clear message that Sydneysiders want to participate. As a result, we will definitely make sure more open days are held.”
Mr Pitchford also invited residents to attend the Sydneysiders Summit on May 16 and 17, which will host “a series of short talks, ‘discovery’ displays and consultation exercises”.
But Ms Clerke said she did not believe Discovery Day provided the transparency and participation that the public is looking for and that the lack of consultation between UrbanGrowth and community representative groups prior to the event was a “bad omen for ongoing engagement”.
“We should not simply become the audience to their show, but partners in opening access to our foreshore lands, cultural icons and waterways to community and visitors,” she said.


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