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City of Sydney councillors air their concerns about the future of Redfern Waterloo - 8 March 2006

Alexandra Walker reports in the 8th March edition of Sydney Central Courier that Inner Sydney could be left with an oversupply of office space if the Redfern-Waterloo Authority’s (RWA ) plans go ahead too quickly, a City of Sydney councillor has warned.

Commenting on the RWA’s draft built environment plan – which has as its centre piece the creation of a new town centre around Redfern railway station – City councillor and former town planner John McInerney said there was already enough office space in the CBD.

“At the moment we have a vacancy rate of approximately 10 per cent,” Cr McInerney said.

“If you put East Darling Harbour into the equation we have the capacity to go for 15 to

20 years if demand continues as it has.”

He said the City also has plans to create office space at nearby Green Square that could end up in direct competition with any Redfern developments.

“Either end of the boom-bust cycle is bad,” he said. “What’s best for the community is a reasonable supply in a timely fashion.

“This is an appropriate thing for governments to manage.”

RWA chief executive Robert Domm described the draft plan, which was launched last month, as a “strategic vision” for the area’s future.

“The Redfern-Waterloo Authority is confident that a g rowing Sydney market will respond over time to the exciting commercial and residential opportunities that will occur,” Mr Domm said.

But Cr McInerney wasn’t the only councillor to criticise the plan.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore told last Monday’s meeting of the council that the RWA’s plan lacked detail.

“The plan refers to strategies for public domain, infrastructure , heritage, transport and utility services, yet provides little detailed information on how they will be provided and funded,” Cr Moore said.

Labor Deputy Lord Mayor Verity Firth also aired her concerns about the plan, saying it seemed to be driven by business, rather than the needs of residents and small business.

“Sites like the historic Eveleigh Railyards are not protected under the plan and are mooted to become office blocks,” she said. “Public land such as the Rachel Forster hospital site look certain to be sold to private concerns.”

The draft plan is the third and final element in stage one of the much anticipated Redfern-Waterloo plan.

Launching the plan, Frank Sartor, the minister in charge o f the authority, said that the best way to deliver long-term improvements for residents of the area was to create more job opportunities.

“[The] draft built environment plan shows how those jobs will be provided – by regenerating key sites and establishing a new town centre around Redfern railway station as a hub for community and commercial activity,” he said.

The draft plan is on public exhibition until April 7. [Changed to April 14 - REDWatch]