A proposal that sparked more than 1000 public submissions has been decided.
About 200 people packed Epping Community Hall on Monday night for a five-hour Parramatta Council meeting, where the development control plan for UrbanGrowth NSW’s Parramatta North Urban Transformation precinct was adopted.
It will provide a framework for assessing future development applications for the precinct, which includes the historical Fleet Street precinct. The council report recommended it be adopted to avoid delays in the proper assessment of future precinct DAs. There were also fears of potential Land and Environment Court action.
All but one of the 20 speakers opposed the proposal and ignored council administrator Amanda Chadwick’s plea to not applaud at the end of every speech.
Many wanted the decision to be delayed until an imminent announcement on the potential national heritage listing for the Parramatta Female Factory was finalised.
“The community is relying on you to stand up and represent their concerns,” North Parramatta Residents Action Group president Suzette Meade said. She also questioned why the community was given little time to respond to the 400 page report.
Parramatta Female Factory Friends spokeswoman Ronda Gaffey read out a statement on behalf of its patrons - author Tom Keneally and his daughter Meg, a Female Factory descendant.
“In our view, the current proposal risks diminishing the heritage value of the site and losing any hope of interpreting these historic buildings and opening them to the public,” the statement read.
National Trust Parramatta president Brian Powyer added: “We have a long and impressive record of supporting re-adaptive reuse of heritage buildings. While the council has legal obligations, it also has equal or greater obligation to its residents and the broader community.”
UrbanGrowth NSW spent the best part of two years on the proposal. “This is a once in a generation opportunity to revitalise a very important piece of Australian history,” project team leader Donna Savage said. “To do nothing is not an option.”
Ms Chadwick said many concerns raised about the future of the precinct’s historical core were a matter for the state government.
“When making this decision, I asked myself what would happen if I didn’t accept the DCP,” she said. “Having a DCP is in fact better than its absence.” Ms Chadwick later said: “I was conscious of the precedent it would set if I did defer it.”
Parramatta MP Geoff Lee was also in the gallery.
“It was the right decision. Because of its sensitivity and importance, there are now stricter planning controls for the precinct than there were under the former DCP.”