Wollongong harbour plan remains secret

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The NSW Department of Lands is remaining tight-lipped on the lease agreement which will underpin the planned redevelopment of Wollongong Harbour. Yesterday’s picture shows the latest improvements on the beachfront. Picture: KIRK GILMOURThe NSW Department of Lands is remaining tight-lipped on the lease agreement which will underpin the controversial redevelopment of Wollongong Harbour.A spokesman would not say whether the public would have a voice when the department sets lease conditions with its chosen developer for the prominent Wollongong site.The spokesman said an agreement would be drawn up “in accordance with normal commercial arrangements”.”Such an agreement would require a development application to be approved before a lease is finalised,” the spokesman said.”The type and extent of any agreement is unknown at this point and thus the level of public disclosure cannot be predetermined.”The department is pushing forward with plans to redevelop the harbour precinct amid fears a lease will be imposed on the public with no consultation.Action group Reclaim Our City has accused the department of keeping the community in the dark over the lease conditions.Spokesman Arthur Rorris, who is also secretary of the South Coast Labour Council, said the Government was trying to bring in a Killalea-style agreement, referring to the move to hand over parts of Killalea State Park to developers on 50-year leases.”Stop treating the community like mushrooms and come clean, once and for all,” he said.”This is exactly and completely consistent with what happened at Killalea. This one will be fought all the way by the community, we will not accept it and it shows this government has learned nothing from the disaster at Killalea,” he said.The department’s silence over the lease agreement comes a week after Wollongong administrator Col Gellatly told the department that any proposal “must involve consultation with local residents”.The department is assessing six proposals for the harbour area submitted by developers, behind closed doors.Bound by its expressions of interest process, the department has not allowed the public or the council to view the submissions.The department and Lands Minister Tony Kelly have been under fire from community groups, who fear they are being locked out of the assessment process.The department has consistently said the public will only get their say on a proposal when a development is chosen and put to council as a development application.In an attempt to appease his critics, Lands Minister Tony Kelly set up a consultative committee of stakeholders in August to advise on the redevelopment, but the group will not have access to the proposals at present being assessed.
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