AIA critical of Barangaroo planning

September 30, 2010

‘It’s not too late to go back to the drawing board,’ says Institute’s NSW Chapter President Brian Zulaikha.

The NSW Chapter President of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), Brian Zulaikha, has urged the NSW Premier to negotiate a better plan for the development of the Barangaroo site in inner Sydney, claiming the State Government must “advocate for the public interest”.

Zulaikha criticised the NSW Government for relying entirely on the private sector to plan the site: “We consider the Government should not have signed a contract with the developer when the public domain on the Barangaroo South precinct had not yet been properly defined.”

He went on, “The Institute acknowledges that the engagement of the private sector is a necessary step in the evolution of our cities. But the Government needs to fulfil its responsibility as an informed client and advocate for the public interest by clearly defining the public domain, rather than leaving this critical step to the developer.”

Making the statement on behalf of the Institute’s NSW Chapter, Zulaikha claimed the Government had made “many mistakes” in its handling of the development application. He urged NSW Premier Kristina Keneally to use the authority of her office to “prepare a public domain master plan that establishes the framework and configuration for the public domain in accordance with the public domain principles of the original Concept Plan.”

This is the first statement to come from the AIA regarding the plans for Barangaroo, which were first revealed in December 2009. The contentious development proposal has received continued coverage in the media, with Richard Rogers’ proposed design for a hotel that juts out into the harbour forming a particularly controversial part of the master plan.

The Institute welcomed the principle of increased urban density in order to address population growth in the city, he said, but the Government needed to represent the public interest and clearly define the public domain within the site.

Zulhaika continued: “We disagree with the Premier’s assessment that ‘there is a small group in the community who want to derail the project’. On the contrary, judging by the number of submissions critical of the proposed Concept Plan amendment, and extensive media coverage over the past few months, there is a very large group in the community who see the enormous potential in the re-development of Barangaroo and who desperately want the Government to get it right.”

“It’s not too late to go back to the drawing board and produce a scheme that is something the people of Sydney can be proud of,” he said.

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