At last, a note of sanity! As the dust settles following an excoriating federal election campaign and we all try to make sense of the results, some interesting moves have been occurring at state government level. On June 22, there was a NSW parliamentary summit, attended by MPs from across the parliament, community groups and crown land campaigners. They were unanimous in supporting a parliamentary enquiry and called for an immediate moratorium on any Crown and public land being sold or developed until the enquiry reports. The enquiry was established in the NSW Upper House on the following day. The enquiry has comprehensive terms of reference and a timeline to ensure that it reports before a Crown Land Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament in spring.
Above is one of the early images published by UrbanGrowth NSW for the government’s proposed sale and development of land in the North Parramatta Heritage Precinct. North Parramattta Residents Action Group, has been leading the fight for community consultation about the future of the site and resistance to excessive development. NPRAG president Suzette Meade was one of those who participated in the parliamentary summit. Left, Suzette is partly hidden from view behind heritage conservation warrior Jack Mundey at last year’s precinct rally. The Upper House enquiry into Crown Lands willl close on July 24. Many submissions are taking shape, but there’s still time and need for more. Click here for information.
On their website, NPRAG states that “it will remain a challenge for the community to ensure that this public land and its national heritage, river connectivity and potential open space and parkland, is allowed to realise its full potential beyond merely satisfying a government mandated housing quota.” Members argue repeatedly that the planned growth of Parramatta and its increase in high density apartment living renders the need for green space ever more important.
Then in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, they found unexpected support. Lucy Turnbull, chief commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, wrote , “The role of the Greater Sydney Commission in Parramatta is to work with the community, industry and all agencies of the state government to ensure that the principles of great city building are applied to greater Parramatta as it grows.
“These principles include ensuring that good urban design and place making leads to greater liveability. As more and more people live, work and study in and enjoy the Parramatta CBD, access to sunlight and high quality open spaces will be even more important. There are great examples in Sydney of how the right balance can be struck, with developments rising up around public open spaces without overshadowing them. Hyde Park, the Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens are all protected from overshadowing. Parramatta deserves this too.” This was exactly the argument NPRAG used in its postcard campaign last December.
To make a submission to the Crown Lands Enquiry, find guidelines and advice on the NPRAG website. Of course, where there are issues of this kind in your part of the region, or state, adapt the information about Parramatta for your own use.