Casino or Parkland? Community group fighting to save a public park planned for Sydney’s foreshore

On 14 November 2016 a legal battle begins to save a public park planned for the foreshore of Sydney Harbour. Millers Point Fund Inc, represented by public interest environmental lawyers EDO NSW, is challenging a decision by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to allow the Crown Casino development at Barangaroo, in Sydney, to be located on land that had been originally set aside as public parkland.

14 November 2016

The community group argues that the PAC did not apply the law properly when approving the casino’s location.

When first approved in 2007, the Barangaroo development’s Concept Plan preserved an area on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour as a publicly accessible park. However, in June 2016, the PAC approved a modified version of the Plan which replaced the foreshore park with the 71-storey Crown Casino and hotel, and moved the park back from the waterfront. In making its decision to approve the relocation of the Casino, the PAC deferred to an approval made on the Casino’s gambling license under casino licencing laws.

This complex case hinges around whether the PAC has made an unlawful decision under our planning laws to modify the location of the Casino on the basis of the casino licencing laws.

Millers Point Fund Inc argues that casino licencing laws relate to licensing, not to location, and that the PAC was required by law to refer to planning laws when considering the Casino’s location. They argue, therefore, that the PAC did not properly exercise its powers.

“At the heart of this case is whether our planning system adequately protects public spaces from private profit.” said Sue Higginson, Chief Executive Officer, EDO NSW. “Our decision makers must apply the law properly if we are to ensure the habitability of our urban environment and protect the community’s ability to access and enjoy our harbour.”

The hearing commences at 10:00am on Tuesday 15 November 2016 in Court 12D, NSW Supreme Court Building, Queens Square, 184 Philip Street, Sydney. (Note that this Land and Environment Court hearing is being held in the Supreme Court building)

Sue Higginson, EDO NSW Chief Executive Officer, will be available for interviews outside Court from 9:30am.

More background on the case can be found at EDO NSW’s website.

Media enquiries: Sue Higginson 0428 227 363 or Chris Madden (02) 9262 6989, media@edonsw.org.au