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Redfern changes the first of many under growth plan - 01.12.2004

The State Government is considering setting up a body to take charge of some of Sydney's run-down corridors and employment and industrial centres as it fine tunes plans to cope with the city's projected growth.

The body would not need to replicate the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, which is likely to be given unprecedented powers to transform inner-city suburbs through compulsory acquisition of land, the sale of government assets and exemptions from heritage constraints.

However, it would be similarly styled, officials suggest, and would put the Government at the centre of development decisions in areas considered vital to accommodating the anticipated surge of new residents.

Already the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Craig Knowles, has created a special body to rejuvenate the Parramatta Road corridor, from the corner of City Road to Granville.
Under the leadership of David Richmond, former head of the Olympic Committee Authority, the Parramatta Road Task Force has brought together the mayors of the eight councils bordering the 20-kilometre strip, along with senior government bureaucrats and heritage officials. Plans for light-rail services and a new medium-density housing and commercial park are reportedly being developed.

But government sources say the task force could be the forerunner to a separate commission or authority being set up to bring other centres and corridors to life.
Apart from Parramatta Road, three corridors have been identified under a planning strategy being developed to deal with the expected 1000 residents a week who will move to Sydney in the next three decades.
These are the city-airport strip and sections of Canterbury Road and the Hume Highway.

A spokesman for Mr Knowles, Paul Perry, said the Government's present emphasis was on the Parramatta Road strip but other areas could be considered in time.
The eight-kilometre stretch from the city centre to the international and domestic airports has been identified as ripe for government intervention. This would require absorbing planning controls from the City of Sydney.

Government plans to reshape the South Sydney Development Corporation and put it in charge of the airport strip development were shelved a few months ago after a hostile response from the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, one of the biggest critics of the Redfern-Waterloo proposals.
The South Sydney Development Corporation is struggling to survive as a legal entity. It has not held a meeting for more than a year and a host of projects in the Green Square area are languishing.

Earlier this week, the Herald published details of cabinet papers outlining sweeping changes for the Redfern-Waterloo area, including plans to demolish public housing towers, and sell Redfern Public School and Rachel Forster Hospital, partly to fund urban renewal.

The minister responsible for the Redfern project, Frank Sartor, has insisted that the plans are still being developed, and have not been finalised.
But the documents reveal the Government is well advanced in its thoughts on how to maximise jobs and investment returns in the Redfern-Waterloo area.

By Darren Goodsir, Urban Affairs Editor

Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald
December 1, 2004 (page 8 print version)