Since publishing this post yesterday, ABC Radio News has amended the report that was the origin of the post. At its meeting on Monday, July 13, Parramatta City Council was asked to support several motions about the North Parramatta Heritage Precinct. The motions were defeated by the casting vote of Lord Mayor Scott Lloyd. According to those present discussion of the motions revealed that the council was as concerned as many residents about the lack of any heritage plan in the state government’s proposal. The State Planning Minister, not Parramatta Council, will have the final say on the proposal as it is a state-significant development.
Parramatta Council made a submission to the Planning Department in February. The submission said it was not clear how heritage buildings would be restored as part of the overall development. It also raised concerns over inadequate transport modelling and the lack of detail about possible affordable housing on the site. An item in the Sydney Morning Herald, July 15, outlines the issues facing Parramatta of heritage conservation versus urban development.
A tide of protest has been rising against the government’s plans as groups like the North Parramatta Residents Action Group (NPRAG) have spread the word locally and nationally about the impact of the proposals. One of the most informed objectors, the National Trust, wasn’t even aware that the matter would be considered by the council last night.
Above is a romanticised view of UrbanGrowth NSW’s proposals for the site, which will intrude on existing heritage buildings and turn much of the open space into private enclaves. There are fears that in their haste to make money from developers and to accelerate the growth of “Australia’s next great city”, the council and the state government have overlooked the fundamentals of what makes a city livable and their own statements about the heritage importance of Parramatta’s historical sites. Click here for the council’s statement and here for the state government’s.
Fresh from a recent visit to New York, above is the first view from my window on the 27th floor revealing a diminutive old church spire amid more modern skyscrapers. My first thought was, “is that what we want for Parramatta?” Two days later I found myself looking at the origin of the spire, left – the Church of St Francis of Assisi in West 31 St – a charming building almost completely overwhelmed by its surroundings.
Parramatta Council’s decision has attracted widespread media attention today. ABC Radio 702 – NPRAG committee member, Jason Burcher was interviewed for Linda Mottram’s morning program with updates in the news bulletins. Watch tonight as NPRAG President, Suzette Meade’s is interviewed – Channel 7 News at 6.00pm, and ABC 2 News at 7.00pm.
North Parramatta Residents Action Group’s membership is growing fast. Click here for a membership form and support their fight for better planning and care of Australia’s national heritage.