Glamourous film stars, multi-million dollar yachts and a coastline to die for; could this be the future for Botany Bay that an organisation representing some of the industry’s biggest developers is predicting?
Last week NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole announced the merger of Botany Bay and Rockdale Councils to form the new Bayside Council (not to be confused with Victoria’s Bayside City Council) after a lengthy court battle over the merger came to an end.
Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson said the decision cleared the way for more residential development around Botany Bay’s waterfront.
In fact, he is predicting a bright, perhaps Mediterranean-inspired, future for the area.
Johnson said: “Last year the Urban Taskforce proposed mid- rise buildings around the bay that reflected the character of the French Riviera. This reflects the aspirations behind the establishment of Brighton-Le-Sands as a resort town in the 1880s.
“The land fronting Botany Bay is ideal for the development of urban living close to the waterfront as well as to the jobs in the Sydney CBD.”
Johnson said the new council, which is now headed up by administrator Greg Wright, could now plan for more density around the bay to keep pace with the area’s growing population. The interim General Manager is Meredith Wallace, Rockdale Council’s GM.
But the Taskforce is concerned that the Greater Sydney Commission may need to step in and chivvy the new council along on planning matters, otherwise the vision of Saint-Tropez on Botany Bay will never be realised.
The Commission is due to release its six district plans later this year and the old council areas fall into two different areas, Rockdale in the Southern District and Botany in the Central District.
Local councils must take note of the content of district plans (and the Metropolitan Plan that the GSC will also write) when setting planning controls, such as height, lot size, zoning and floorspace ratios.
Johnson said he was behind local government reform in NSW but sounded a note of caution.
“We are however concerned that during the restructuring process the focus on the planning system could be diminished and the Department of Planning and the Greater Sydney Commission may need to take a stronger role during the transition phase.”
Botany Bay Council took its case to the Land and Environment Court earlier this year, arguing that it had been denied “procedural fairness” during the public inquiry process, which was presided over by delegate Rod Nockles.
The council also accused Nockles of ignoring a community poll where 98 per cent of residents voted against merging with Rockdale.
Botany Bay Council had submitted an alternative merger proposal to extend its borders and take in Port Botany, Sydney Airport, two-thirds of Randwick and a chunk of the City of Sydney but this never got up.
Meanwhile, NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole, slammed the council for taking its grievances to court three times and said he welcomed the verdict.
“This litigation has been costly for the council and its ratepayers, with legal bills potentially running into hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
Elections for the new Bayside Council will not be held until September 2017, when 15 councillors will be elected.
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