NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced $310 million for a controversial North Parramatta development, to some heckling from locals angered about the proposed construction of more than 2000 apartments.
The 30-hectare site has a rich indigenous heritage and is home to several historic buildings including the colonial-era Parramatta Female Factory, the former Catholic Orphan School and Parramatta Gaol.
Urban Growth NSW’s proposed plan for the site would see the restoration and conservation of historically significant buildings, the creation of public open spaces, and the construction of about 2700 new apartments.
Announcing $310 million in project funding over the next seven to 10 years, Ms Berejiklian focused on heritage conservation efforts and the creation of public open spaces, including ovals, cycleways, playing fields and parklands.
She said buildings that were “wasting away” would be repaired, restored and made safe for community use.
“We have so much our history locked her on those 30 hectares and it’s wonderful to see it returned to the community in such a considerate and thoughtful way,” she told reporters on Sunday.
But North Parramatta Residents’ Action Group president Suzette Meade, who showed up to the media announcement with a small number of opponents, described the project as vandalism.
Ms Meade said the construction of multi-storey apartments would destroy any opportunity for the site’s convict buildings to achieve national or World Heritage listing.
“We can make this the biggest arts and cultural precinct in Australia,” she said.
“We can have heritage tourism, arts and culture, we can have artists’ studios, museums, cafes, a sculpture park.”
Urban Growth NSW senior development manager James Adcock said the site’s “heritage core”, which is about the size of Parramatta’s central business district, would be preserved.
“The residential buildings that are proposed are a long away from that heritage core, and they’re graded in size coming down to lower heights the closer they get,” he said.
The project will create about 2000 jobs.