Despite booming apartment living and residential densities, our parklands and the public estate are continually under threat. I have a long history defending public land, expanding parklands, promoting foreshore access and creating people-friendly urban spaces.
Public open space is essential in the inner city, where most residents live in terrace houses or apartments without backyards. Our parks promote health through exercise and relaxation, encourage community and cultural links, and proved environmental benefits.
I worked to mobilise the overwhelming community opposition that foiled the Sporting Trust’s grab for Moore Park, but the threat to Governor Macquarie’s legacy continues with government sale of parts of Queens Park. I opposed rezoning public recreational land for a secretly approved football headquarters, with mature trees on the car park site now destroyed for the development.
My Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust legislation became law in 1992 to guarantee public ownership of the former showground site, and lease of the site now provides significant Trust revenue. I supported heritage listing the parklands, which stopped a McDonalds in Moore Park.
As Lord Mayor, I have made open space a priority. We’re created new parks, including the $26 million rescue of foreshores land at Pyrmont for Pirrama Park and recent planning agreement to secure 35 per cent of the Harold Park site for public open space. Through our work, Hyde Park is looking stunning and large sections of new foreshore walk are open at Glebe.
Residents’ praise for City park renewals has been backed by significant awards. Pirrama Park in Pyrmont, Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Sydney Park in Alexandria, Redfern Park and oval, and Balfour Street Park in Chippendale have received national and international awards. Further work at with Prince Alfred Park and Rushcutters Bay Park is on the way.
City projects now include sustainability measures, such as stormwater collection, filtration and reuse to future-proof our parks. We’ve introduced numerous street gardens, including innovative ‘raingardens’ that receive, retain and filter stormwater and reduce pollution entering our waterways.
The City is pursuing every opportunity to make our neighbourhoods green and inviting. We have a program to improve small parks and playgrounds, develop new community gardens, update our street tree policies, and map our tree canopy to guide increased plantings.
And I’ve promoted off-lease areas for owners to take their dogs to exercise and socialise.
Work to develop a City Farm is underway, focused on transforming the disused Powerhouse Museum car park. Such a farm would provide practical opportunities for Sydneysiders to learn about and participate in sustainable food production.
The City is working to create people-friendly streets and urban spaces, including the transformation of George Street as a light-rail, cycling and pedestrian boulevard, providing new opportunities for retail and cafes, and extending the revitalisation begun at Pitt Street Mall.
In Chinatown, Kimber Lane, Factory Street and Little Hay Street will soon be revitalised, the start of precinct-wide improvements. The plans preserve Chinatown’s unique character, while creating striking new public spaces with more trees and plantings.