The Management of Sydney Harbour Foreshores
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Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No. 12/1998 by Stewart Smith
- The planning and management of Sydney Harbour foreshores provide a good example of how difficult it is to manage public and private land to protect a natural asset such as Sydney Harbour. Important participants include numerous local councils, State Government agencies, the Commonwealth Government, and developers keen to redevelop old industrial sites. The combination of all these makes a formidable planning challenge (page 1).
- The State Government has recognised that the planning and management of Sydney Harbour needs to be re-organised and strengthened to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the Harbour. A number of guiding principles have been developed which will guide future land use of publicly owned Harbour foreshore land. In addition, the Government is set to declare prime sites along the Harbour and Parramatta River, including land in Federal, State or private ownership, as sites of State significance'. These sites are to be identified in a State Environmental Planning Policy. The SEPP will ensure that the Minister for Urban Affairs will be the consent authority for some sites, and on other sites require the consent authority, usually local councils, to prepare strategic plans in accordance with guidelines published by the State Government (pages 2-3). The Government has also introduced legislation which amalgamates the City West Development Corporation, the Darling Harbour Authority and the Sydney Cove Authority (page 4).
- The Government has also announced plans to appoint a Harbour Manager, to be a first point of contact for anyone dealing with the various government authorities and consent authorities, including local councils (pages 4-5).
- The issue of the sale of Defence Force land around Sydney Harbour has created some controversy. Various locations around the Harbour have been important for defence purposes since the time of the First settlers. Some of these sites are now considered surplus to Defence Force requirements, and the question of the change in land use is confronting governments and communities. Whilst the Defence Force would generally like to see the maximum return possible on their assets, others in the community are against this and would prefer to see the public land retained in public hands as open space. The State Government has announced that Defence Force sites will be declared as sites of State Significance and that it will become the consent authority for any proposed redevelopments (pages 5-10).