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City of Sydney unanimously rejects Modification 9 for Central Barangaroo

The City of Sydney (CoS) has unanimously rejected the NSW Government’s Modification 9 proposal for Central Barangaroo in a move to protect cultural and heritage significance.

On behalf of the CoS, Councillor, heritage advocate and architect HY William Chan has given a deadline of May 17, 2023, to the new State Government to respond to the Select Committee on Barangaroo Sight Lines Report, calling for the implementation of all of the report’s recommendations.

Recommendations include scrapping Modification 9, involving the Heritage Council of NSW when developing view management strategies, and making it a requirement to seek feedback from the CoS.

Last year, 10 years on from the commencement of Barangaroo planning, a Parliamentary Select committee was established to inquire into the negotiations between the state government, Lendlease and Crown in relation to sight lines at Barangaroo, including whether any biases influenced the final decision.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore raised significant concerns about the planning and delivery of development on public land at Barangaroo in her submission to the NSW Upper House Parliamentary Inquiry.

“The development of Barangaroo should have been done in full public view and considered the public’s best interest,” she said.

“Instead, since 2005, 11 modified development applications have significantly altered the form and scale of Barangaroo by adding more than 100,000 sqm of floor space to the concept plan, and eroding sight lines across the site, particularly from Millers Point and Observatory Hill.”

During the public exhibition of Modification 9 for Central Barangaroo, the CofS made a strong submission against the proposal. Cr Chan also strongly objected Modification 9 in his submission and represented the views of local community groups such as Sydney City Skywatchers and Millers Point Community Resident Action Group.

The committee received 16 submissions and held public hearings. On February 17, 2023, it tabled its report.

As part of its inquiry, the committee found that:

  • Barangaroo sight lines have significant cultural and heritage value which must be preserved and protected; and
  • Modification 9 proposes an unacceptable increase in height and footprint at Central Barangaroo which adversely impacts on sight lines and amenity.

The committee made several key recommendations including that the NSW Government:

  • Engage in resolution processes for development disputes that seek transparent financial compensation rather than development bonuses.
  • Review guidelines governing post-separation employment for senior public servants to ensure that any conflicts of interest are managed appropriately.
  • Develop a view management strategy in consultation with the Heritage Council of NSW, that identifies and preserves significant sight lines in Millers Point and Dawes Point and ensures that these views are considered in the context of any major redevelopment project.
  • Reject Modification 9 and ensure that the redevelopment of Central Barangaroo remains small in scope so as not to cause significant obstructions to the Barangaroo sight lines.

Cr Chan said he had met with community leaders including from the Millers Point Community Resident Action Group and the National Trust NSW, who had continued to raise concerns.

“They share my concerns of the enduring impact that the development of the public land at Barangaroo has had on the community and the strong community concerns in relation to Modification 9,” he said.

“In light of the NSW Upper House inquiry and continued community opposition on heritage and urban planning grounds, I have asked Council to request the Lord Mayor write to the NSW Premier and Leader of the Opposition to ensure that all of the recommendation detailed in the report are implemented.”

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