By Lynne Blundell
17 September 2010- Architect Philip Thalis who designed the competition-winning original concept for Barangaroo has been actively informing the public about what he sees as the many flaws in the planning process and the new Lend Lease concept for the site. He has put in a submission to the Department of Planning outlining his deep concerns about the latest plans.
In his submission he expressed concern over the inept handling of the development by the NSW government and the unsympathetic treatment of the waterfront site:
“The processes and proposals at Barangaroo, were they to be approved, would be a dangerous precedent for the inappropriate development and privatisation of any harbour or coastal site in NSW. In the era of climate change, full public control of the waters’ edge has never been more critical. In the centre of Australia’s most populous city, the primacy of the public domain must be affirmed for the benefit of all citizens.”
Mr Thalis goes on to criticise the lack of transparency in the development process:
“There are a series of failings additional to the current Concept Plan application that taint the planning process of the publicly owned land at Barangaroo. The contract signed between Lend Lease and the NSW Government has only belatedly been made available, however, it includes the censorship of so many clauses that it fails any reasonable test of fairness and disclosure. The contract relates to public land – and is made between the Government and a sole developer granted a monopoly. How can it reasonably claimto be in any way, ‘commercial in confidence.’ “
Mr Thalis lamented the loss of the wharves that have lined the city’s face to Darling Harbour for the last two hundred years, saying “the Cruise Ship Terminal, at the very least, should be retained on this site.” He also expressed concern that the original aim for 7.5 per cent of affordable housing at Barangaroo had been reduced to 2.3 per cent in the Lend Lease plan.
“Allied to the disposal by stealth of the historic public housing in nearby Millers Point and Walsh Bay,” says Thalis, “this constitutes exclusionary social program, entrenching an enclave of privilege.”
He saves his final words for the hotel planned to project into the harbour, describing it as “an affront to all citizens of Sydney.”
“Never before, in the history of the city, has a private developer been given permission to construct profit-driven buildings in the harbour.”
Public submissions on the latest plans closed last week and these will then be examined by the Department of Planning, followed by the proponent, Lend Lease.
Lend Lease is hopeful that if planning approval was received soon it might be able to start construction by the end of the year.
But with another public rally to protest gainst the development held at the site last Sunday and plans by City Of Sydney councillors to challenge the first part of the construction if it is approved, that does seem a little optimistic.