BREAKING NEWS: The City of Parramatta has released a list of projects they are seeking to accelerate through fast tracked planning with the State Government and it makes interesting reading. You can read it here
Under COVID-19 measures brought in by the State Government in March, a range of contentious projects are being fast-tracked across Sydney - often after they have already been rejected under the full planning process, and with minimal scrutiny. In addition, all local councils were invited to submit a list of council projects that could be facilitated. These so-called 'shovel-ready' projects are being touted as fast tracking extra employment as the local economy reopens but is that what it is really aimed at?
In May, the City of Parramatta submitted their list and not only does it make interesting reading for Epping residents, but there are also wider questions to ask about what the council is up to:
1) The list seems to have been assembled by council staff. We believe there was no consultation with councillors on what got on the list.
2) The list was not tabled for discussion or endorsement at a council meeting prior to being submitted. That means that not only did your local representatives not debate it, but there was no public knowledge or scrutiny of it
3) The list has a column which seems to detail the support they are seeing from the Department of Planning - some Epping items have dollar amounts (which we think are the current budget or estimate for those items), whilst others simply say 'NSW Government Support'. Is that code for trying to get approval for a project that may be contentious with residents under the cover of COVID darkness? We think so.
WHAT IS ON THE LIST FOR EPPING: It definitely is an interesting mix: .
1. The three stages of implementing the Dence Park Redevelopment - the aquatic centre, a new facilities building with change rooms, gym and cafe, a new toddler pool area and a new 25 metre learn to swim pool. And Stage 3, which is work on the Creative Centre and is currently unfunded.
2. A master plan for Somerville Park - listed as recreation facilities and costed at $15 million, which looks a bit expensive for a plan! Or has the plan already been done (in which case, where is it?) and this is the implementation.
3. Carlingford Town centre master plan - again, who knows what this is
4. Epping Community Hub - and this is down for acceleration through the planning process. Which is very interesting as no one knows what it is. There has been no proposal or plan put forward but the text aludes to a new library - and presumably this is to go on the Rawson Street Car park site. Rather than updating the existing library which is what the community said they wanted during the Epping Planning Review.
The Trust is concerned about the whole process surrounding this list. There has been no consultation. Our local representatives have not been involved. We requested a copy but this was not provided until it went up online. And it is clearly aimed at circumventing community discussion and pushing through projects that may or may not actually be the right thing for Epping. We won't know as they haven't told us about them! That's simply not good enough.