A soap opera actor has joined the growing bandwagon to save the Fleet Street heritage precinct.
Home and Away star Shane Withington believes a world heritage listing should be considered before the state government considers plans to redevelop the area.
Stage one of Urban Growth NSW’s plans to transform North Parramatta are currently on public exhibition. Parramatta Council’s draft Development Control Plan is also on public exhibition, which will provide a framework for assessing all future development applications (DAs) for the precinct.
Despite living on Sydney’s northern beaches, Mr Withington is well aware of the Fleet Street precinct, home to some of Australia’s earliest colonial history.
“It’s a truly magnificent site that should be on the world heritage list,” he said.
“I’m appalled at the prospect that it could be under threat. Its value isn’t being represented. Surely, it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure the highest possible protection is afforded to the site before any DA is considered. At least 6000 people could be living within 60 feet of the site.”
He follows author Tom Keneally, who also recently spoke out in support of protecting the precinct.
Mr Withington is a long time activist for preservation and protection of heritage and open space. Ten years ago, he was part of a successful community campaign to stop redevelopment at Currawong Beach. The area was then placed on the NSW Heritage Register.
“It comes from a deep and abiding love for Sydney’s heritage, which is under threat,” he told the Sun.
“The Fleet Street precinct cannot become a sideshow to urban redevelopment, it just can’t. It’s one of the most significant sites of Australian history. There are plenty of other places in Sydney where they can build units. My question is why isn’t it national heritage listed already?”
Mr Withington urged the state government and UrbanGrowth NSW to rethink their plans for the precinct.
UrbanGrowth NSW invited the North Parramatta Residents Action Group (NPRAG) and Parramatta Female Factory Friends to have stalls at its precinct open day this Saturday.
NPRAG members will urge the public to object to the plans and lodge a submission to Parramatta Council before June 13.
The DA will be determined by the Sydney West Central Planning Panel.
“NPRAG have been demanding a public open day for the North Parramatta heritage precinct since 2015,” president Suzette Meade said.
“All of NSW must be aware of this oasis teaming with indigenous and colonial heritage. We strongly urge everyone to come down this weekend so they can witness the amazing public land the state government want to sell off to private developers for 3000 units in just stage one.”
Mr Withington added:
“I urge the whole of Sydney to get there to see what’s at stake and could be lost.”