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Resident Questions if Sydney Uni has followed Planning Requirements

A Darlington Resident, who is part of a group of Darlington residents concerned about Sydney Uni’s proposed developments, has written to the Department of Planning arguing that Sydney Uni has not complied with the Department’s consultation requirements for the proposed Abercrombie Street redevelopment. The text of the email below asks the Department to request the University to address the lack of community consultation before allowing the proposal to be formally exhibited. The text of the email is below:

MP07_0158 University of Sydney - Abercrombie St Precinct

A notice in this month’s issue of the South Sydney Herald indicates that the University of Sydney (the proponent) is close to submitting its environment assessment (EA) for the above project, with the expectation that it will then be placed on public submission.

I very surprised to hear this, since the proponent has done almost nothing to satisfy the Director General’s Requirements with respect to public consultation.   The DGRs for this project, issued on 5 November 2009, required the proponent to ‘undertake an appropriate and justified level of consultation in accordance with the Department’s Major Project Community Consultation Guidelines’.

So far, the proponent:

  • Has made no information about its proposal generally available
  • Has established a project website (http://sydney.edu.au/abercrombie_precinct/#) which offers virtually no information at all about the project
  • Did briefly make a model of the proposal available for inspection at its offices, but has now removed this and is refusing access to it
  • Has held a single public meeting.  This was poorly advertised, held shortly before Christmas (and  poorly attended as a result), and located in an uncomfortable foyer unsuitable for discussion, despite hundreds of more suitable seminar and lecture rooms being available.

The Department’s Fact Sheet No 2 on the major projects assessment system advises that ‘the Director General ... determines whether the draft environmental assessment adequately addresses the Director-General’s requirements.  If it is not adequate, the proponent will be asked to revise the environmental assessment to address any outstanding matters.’

There is no way that any EA prepared by the proponent for this project on the basis of the almost non-existent consultation with the local community carried out so far could be judged to adequately respond to the DGRs.  Should such an assessment be lodged without significant and genuine further consultation being undertaken, it must be judged inadequate and returned to the proponent for revision, as stated in your Fact Sheet.

A meeting has been organised this weekend of Darlington residents concerned about the nature of the University's proposal (albeit that we know little about it) and angry about the manner in which it is advancing it.  It would be useful to receive a response as to the Department of Planning's position on consultation during the EA preparation process.

Thank you.

 [Name and Address withheld by request]

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