By Brent Heber, Greens Candidate for Barton 2016
They are doing this by volunteering Crown Land (land owned by all Australian taxpayers for recreational pursuits) to be rezoned (ie bought by council and then sold off to the highest bidder) and developed into a Priority Precinct. The area is question is the old Rockdale Fishermans Club, affectionately known as The Fishos. It is also the golf course and Barton Park – so in total an area about 4 times the size of the Wolli Creek/Discovery Point development.
This is the fourth Priority Precinct to be volunteered up by Council. The first two are already well into the planning stage, the Arncliffe and Banksia priority precincts. The third was volunteered but nothing has come of it yet, the western side of Kogarah which is in fact a part of the Rockdal LGA. This is identified in the IPART required “Fit for Future” report from Rockdale (Page 4). Cooks Cove, or the Fishos site makes 4, but as you can see in the photo below it is by far the largest site.
Despite stereotypes to the contrary, I have no ideological aversion to the concept of “Development” – of turning old spaces into new spaces, with better facilities and infrastructure more suited to modern Sydney. My preference, and that of our NSW Planning spokesperson MP David Shoebridge, is for “sensitive infill development” – to recycle disused industrial areas into medium density (as opposed to knocking down heritage homes etc). My issue and I think it’s fair to say the issue most Greens have with development is that it is most often driven purely to maximise developer profits and rarely adds value to the neighbourhood with better planning. Wolli Creek is a case in point, the water mains are still being upgraded to cope with demand, the traffic is a nightmare and its been how many years? At least Wolli Creek has some sustainable practices involved with common grey water treatment for multiple buildings, but where is the solar, where are the rain tanks and most importantly for quality of life, where are the well planned green spaces to give the residents a space other than their apartments to run around in? The highway cuts that development in two, a key impediment if you want to send your kids down to play in the park.
The constant sale of green, recreational space to developers has a long term erosion on our mental health. If you are more economically minded then what about the cost of all these taxpayers and their lack of exercise on our health system? Australia has heart disease and obesity of monstrous proportions (just like our carbon footprint per person is of an obese scale) the only way to resolve this is with preventative measures that encourage us to all to get out of our cars and walk and ride and leave our TVs and Netflix and kick a ball or go for a run or a swim.
It was heartening to see Rockdale rebuild the Bexley pool for the sake of our active transport facilities and physical health, its a shame it took such an incredible fight from many to make it happen. The value of green spaces and recreation seems to be lost of many of those on this council. Hopefully the next lot will approach our community with a bit more vision – and by vision I don’t mean the type that is all glossy in the real estate window.