The fate of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) and the public property under their statutory authority is now in the hands of a new multi-agency body, headed by former Transport Minister Les Wielinga.

The committee will develop the government’s strategic vision for the area extending from the Bays Precinct through to the Royal Botanic Gardens, including Barangaroo and Millers Point.

The new committee consists of the heads of the Department of Planning and Environment, Premier and Cabinet, Transport for NSW, Roads and Maritime Services, NSW Treasury, Trade and Investment and Government Property NSW.

This news comes months before an international summit involving the world’s best urban designers is due to meet to discuss and detail the urban renewal proposal  for the Bays Precinct.

The proposal will include the underutilised and degraded waterfront areas in and around Blackwattle Bay, the Sydney Fish Market, Rozelle Bay, Rozelle Rail Yards, and the heritage-listed White Bay Power Station, all of which are controlled by the SHFA.

The new committee will be chaired by Wielinga, and be comprised of the secretaries of various government departments. Wielinga will report back to Government with his recommendations for the future of SHFA, which he is also now the chair of, in 2015.

NSW Government Minister for Planning Pru Goward said that Wielinga has been tasked with reviewing the functions of the organisation, and identifying any potential for reducing duplication of service delivery.    

Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson has also weighed in on the conversation, suggesting that although the SHFA was already tasked to manage the harbour’s foreshores, they would work with Wielinga and his new committee to develop Sydney as an urban centre.

“The Minister for Planning has stated that no government body currently has responsibility for managing the harbour foreshores but the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority would sound like the body tasked to do this.

“The Urban Taskforce supports a review of the management of the foreshore but we are most concerned that some organisations have suggested that all land must remain in public use.

“The review of Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority needs to look at the roles of event management, landlord & strategic planning. It would appear that strategic planning is moving over to UrbanGrowth NSW and there are other government agencies who could take the landlord role.

“The government should also consider selling the buildings within the Rocks as long as there is sufficient heritage control. SHFA has been doing a good job as an event manager; it would appear that there are other parts of the government or the private sector who can undertake this role.

“The Urban Taskforce is keen to contribute to the review by Les Wielinga of a vision for the foreshore, it would appear that this is only related to the urban parts of the foreshore and this needs clarification,” said Johnson.