Marrickville Council to master plan McGill Street precinct at Lewisham
The first motion was to have Marrickville Council commission a master plan for the entire precinct between Old Canterbury Road and the Goods Line in Lewisham. A master plan will provide an alternative vision for the urban renewal of the area, with appropriate height and density limits to complement the surrounding community, as well as provision for open space and traffic management.
The second motion confirmed Marrickville Councils official opposition to the Lewisham Towers development, called for it to be assessed by Council rather than by the Minister for Planning under Part 3A, and wrote to local MPs requesting their support for this position. A similar motion had been voted down by a combination of Labor and Independent Councillors in March.
Unfortunately, it was a busy council meeting and the motions were not debated until 10.30pm. Despite the hour, residents of Lewisham were present in the gallery and two residents spoke to the motions.
The motion for a master plan was supported unanimously. This is excellent news and council staff have already started to put it into action. The Greens will be working to ensure community participation is incorporated into the master plan project.
The second motion became the subject of heated debate as Labor Councillors opposed it and supported the use of Part 3A to assess this development. Independent Councillors Hanna and Macri (who have all but signed up to the ALP) also opposed the motion saying it was ‘political’.
Labor Councillors seemed more intent on defending the local state member and the NSW state government than they are on genuinely representing the local community (not just on this issue). So they blew hard on their defence of the state government’s pro-developer planning regime and the use of Part 3A for the Lewisham Towers. They, along with their allied Independents Hanna and Macri, attacked The Greens for leading the community campaign.
Perhaps the lowest moment came when the Mayor Sam Iskandar (who also happens to represent Central Ward which includes Lewisham) began banging on the table and raising his voice in an angry defence of Part 3A. To me, it seemed his angry speech was directed as much at the residents in the gallery as at other councillors!
It is a pity the Mayoral anger and bluster was undermined by his poor understanding of how Part 3A works, including the ability of the Minister to refer developments back to the local council, and the effect that Part 3A has in bypassing the community and removing democracy from the planning system.
The final vote was tied again with the 5 Greens and Independent Councillor Dimitrios Thanos for the motion, and four Labor and Councillors Macri and Hanna against. The Labor Mayor then used his casting vote to defeat the motion. Clearly loyalty to the Labor Party is more important than representing constituents in Lewisham and elsewhere.
The community campaign will go on regardless of the politicking, and the master plan that will now be developed can serve as a focus for the community to communicate their vision for Lewisham to the Department of Planning, the Council and to all prospective developers.
Councillor Max Phillips
The McGill Street precinct Lewisham