BENT STREET, MOORE PARK, RETAIL AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX
Ms CLOVER MOORE (Bligh) [6.14 p.m.]: The so-called family entertainment precinct on the historic Moore Park showground site is being progressively transformed from the Government's publicly stated purpose to totally unjustified activities for this significant public site, which is situated in a residential and parkland precinct. On 15 October the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Lend Lease and News Corporation want to sell their Bent Street retail, restaurant and cinema complex. This follows previous reports that these private corporations have written down the value of this venture and do not consider the precinct a long-term investment.
The Sydney Morning Herald article reported that the Commonwealth Bank, through its DFS Gandel Retail Trust, wants to purchase the precinct for $80 million and overhaul it, with the reported introduction of a major supermarket or general goods leasing space. These proposals are a breach of public trust over this significant public site; they violate key public commitments about the site; and they conflict with the spirit and intent of State environmental planning policy [SEPP] 47 for the Moore Park showground. There is growing community conviction that all significant public lands must remain in public ownership and control, be used in accordance with their independently assessed significance and be held in trust for the people of New South Wales.
There is justifiable public outrage when trusts responsible for protecting public lands lease out those public assets for private commercial gain, frequently without any prior public consultation or public disclosure. While there is some community resignation about the lease of the showground for film studio purposes, there is strong and continued opposition to the long 40 to 50 year appropriation of public land, vested in the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, for a commercial retail and entertainment complex. The family entertainment precinct was presented to the New South Wales community as a range of ancillary activities vital to ensure the financial viability of the film and television studio use of the site.
However, the entertainment precinct, known as Bent Street, is increasingly irrelevant for the film studio operation. The site's staged development process has radically altered the original master plan, and there is no justification for a commercial shopping centre on public land that is part of the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust parklands. On 22 November 1995 the Treasurer, Michael Egan, stated in Parliament that the Government has never regarded the showground site as simply a vacant site to be disposed of by lease or sale to the highest bidder. On 19 June 1996 he stated that the Government wished to secure for New South Wales the social, cultural, economic and investment benefits from filming and related facilities. He indicated that the Government was not prepared to lease the site for a regional shopping centre.
In 1995 the State Government took control of site planning through SEPP 47, the Moore Park showground. The aims of this SEPP include enabling redevelopment consistent with the site's importance for the State; enhancing cultural and recreational facilities by developing a world-class film, television and video production centre; allowing film-related development, commercial uses associated with the industry, and other entertainment, recreational and educational activities; and ensuring that impacts are considered in determining development applications.
The proposal to transfer the retail and entertainment precinct to another commercial organisation and its further redevelopment into a general shopping centre seriously compromises and undermines any remaining integrity in the site's planning framework. The proposed change is not of State or regional significance; it has no relevance to achieving a world-class film studio; it is not associated with filming activities; and it risks further exacerbating the existing poorly managed impacts, particularly increasing area traffic congestion. I ask the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning and the assistant Minister, who is at the table, to provide full transparency and accountability by publicly reporting on discussions the Government or the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust have had concerning the future of the Bent Street precinct.
I ask these Ministers to ensure prior public scrutiny and comment, to ensure that there is no repeat of the McDonalds in Moore Park decision, made by the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, and signed off by a former Minister in secrecy. In 1997 the Auditor-General reported that the showground lessee was unable to sublease a substantial part of the premises without prior written consent of the landlord. I ask that the Government abide by the terms of its own SEPP 47, which is the basis of the conditions of the lease of the land, and to reject any subleasing application that fails to comply. As the family entertainment precinct is no longer needed for its stated purpose of ensuring the viability of the film studios, I call upon the Government to return this public land for public use, and not permit unrelated private commercial operation on dedicated public land, which is needed by the dramatically increasing urban population.
Private members' statements noted.