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Quick review of Pyrmont planning ordered

Mon, Sep 30, 11:43am by Ethan Anderson

The government body conducting a snap review of planning controls in Pyrmont has been handed an “impossible task” that “risks eroding trust” in the system, critics say.

The Greater Sydney Commission is due to hand its advice on the plans that cover Pyrmont, Ultimo and parts of Darling Harbour to the New South Wales Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes on Monday – six weeks after New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian ordered the review.

The Age reports Ms Berejiklian said in August that Pyrmont was “set for a facelift” when she ordered a review of the area’s planning rules to “ensure they are consistent with the government’s vision for its future.”

Her request followed complaints from supporters of The Star casino’s ambition to build a hotel and residential tower in the area about the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s negative assessment of that proposal.

She has said the review was not about a specific project.

Mr Stokes will consider the report before the government formulates its response.

The government has not yet said whether the commission’s report will be made public.

The commission has since received more than 200 online submissions and conducted a series of 10-minute interviews about the plans that cover the so-called Western Harbour Precinct that takes in Pyrmont, Ultimo, and parts of Darling Harbour.

Five weeks not enough time – local convener

In her interview with the commission, Pyrmont Action Incorporated convener Elizabeth Elenius questioned, “how the GSC expects to unravel in five weeks” problems such as “regular traffic jams inflicted on our narrow local roads by destinations such as Darling Harbour and The Star casino.”

“We have deep knowledge of our suburb, having watched its transition from an abandoned industrial area to a ‘vibrant, mixed-use precinct’ over the past 30 years, and we are familiar with the rules which have mostly governed this transformation,” Ms Elenius said.

“The GSC has been handed an impossible task by the Premier to come up with recommendations for yet another transition, in five weeks, is ridiculous.”

The Planning Institute of Australia warned the short timeframe for the review risked “eroding trust in the value of the planning system” and was “not optimal for a productive and meaningful engagement of all the interested stakeholders.”

The institute said in its submission it was “acutely aware of the scrutiny planning decision-making processes are under in relation to the Star tower proposal and Pyrmont peninsula.”

“The PIA is concerned that only six weeks has been allocated … to carry out a detailed review of planning controls in an area as diverse and strategically significant such as the Pyrmont peninsula.

“It is unreasonable to expect that the review can …achieve a high trust outcome in the short timeframe nominated.”

Mr Stokes has said the review into Pyrmont made sense.

“We know that there’s a pipeline of proposals in the Pyrmont/Ultimo area that need to be planned in a coordinated way.

“And rather than have a reactive approach, it’s better surely to have a strategic approach of recognizing where opportunities are and the sorts of infrastructure needed to support it.”

It is unclear whether the results of the review will influence the decision to be made by the Independent Planning Commission about whether to approve the Star’s proposed tower.

That decision is expected within weeks.

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