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Open letter to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney from RAIDD

The Open Letter below from RAIDD (Residents Acting In Darlington’s Defence) appeared as comment in the April 2012 edition of The South Sydney Herald.

Dear Dr Spence,

When the original plans for the Abercrombie Precinct Development were published in June 2011, one of the major objections of the local community was to the location of the access road to the site on Abercrombie St, close to Darlington Public School.

It seemed that our concerns had been heard because in July 2011 you made the following statement to the people of Darlington – “In response to concerns from residents and parents of school children, we have relocated the entry point to the basement carpark from Abercrombie St to Darlington Lane and our traffic consultants are examining the traffic loading.” (South Sydney Herald July 2011)

The University has since revised its plans and now intends to lodge a new development application for the Business School. The access road to the site is still on Abercrombie St, however, despite your promise last July. The local community’s concerns about the location of this access road on Abercrombie St and the dangers of it being so close to the entrance to the school still hold true. The local community would not want to be swamped by the University traffic of the proposed Business School with its additional 7500 students, not to mention the commercial and industrial vehicles during the construction phase.

The local Darlington community is extremely disappointed that you have broken your promise.

This seems to be yet again a case of the University not respecting the local community. You yourself admitted on 20 April 2010 at a community meeting at The Settlement in Chippendale that “One of the things that has come back again and again is that the University, quite frankly, is ashamed of not being very good neighbours.” This enormous development will only build a barrier between the University and the Darlington community.

You also said at The Settlement on 20 April 2010: “And if we are going to talk about being an institution that has community roots then those community roots ought to begin with those communities around the campus.”

We would like you then to begin a dialogue with the Darlington community and explain to us in person:-

  • how a community of 2000 people is benefited by building a Business School on its doorstep which would swamp that community with 7500 new students;
  • why such a massive development of this scale is being proposed for the edge of the Darlington Campus where it would have maximum impact on the surrounding community, whilst the large main campus of the University with its many open spaces would remain unscathed;
  • how a massive development of this scale built out of glass and steel fits in with the heritage streetscape of Darlington;
  • how a massive development of this scale fits in with the City Of Sydney’s vision for Darlington as a pedestrian and cycle friendly village;
  • how such a money-making, commercial endeavour for the University would benefit the local community; and finally
  • why you have broken your promise to the people and community of Darlington.

If you are truly serious about the University “being a good neighbour” and “being an institution that has community roots”, we invite you to come and speak to the local community to respond to the matters we have raised in this letter.

Yours faithfully,

RAIDD (Residents Acting In Darlington’s Defence)

Source: The South Sydney Herald April 2012 –