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By Geoff Lee

State Member for Parramatta

AT the State of the Region address Premier Barry O'Farrell gave the 'green light' for a Parramatta Heritage Precinct Master Plan.

This will incorporate the major public owned historic assets in Parramatta - a move that will see preservation of the area’s heritage assets and an expected injection of an estimated $1 billion into the precinct.

Parramatta's heritage assets include: Parramatta Gaol; Parramatta Stadium; Old King's School; The Parramatta Female Factory; Parramatta Girls Home; The Old Roman Catholic Orphanage and other buildings on the Cumberland Hospital site. This is the largest and most notable group of early colonial and European settlement structures. 

Collectively the sites are unparalleled and differentiate Parramatta as a significant tourism destination for both local and overseas visitors.  This will be achieved by opening up the public areas for boardwalks, cafes, restaurants, social and cultural hubs.

Covering over 90 acres the master plan needs to consider the appropriate residential, commercial and mixed-use development of the precinct.

In this way it will create thousands of jobs during the construction phase, and importantly breathe new life into publicly owned sites in Parramatta.

In keeping with the NSW Government's firm commitment to fiscal responsibility the Heritage Master Plan must deliver a cost neutral solution. For long term sustainability, the restoration and refurbishment of these assets must be offset by a viable "adaptive re-use model".

This is a major initiative for Western Sydney and employers should participate in the consultation process to optimise the benefits for their businesses.

The potential advantages for businesses are many. A vibrant cultural and social hub will help businesses attract and retain high quality staff.

Turning the precinct into a major tourism attraction will draw in a significant number of tourists and provide a much needed boost to the bottom lines of many local businesses.

Finally, an adaptive reuse model will also open up significant potential investment opportunities for enterprising businesses.

We must however avoid the pitfalls of the past. For decades these assets have been under-utilised. The first step, after years of neglect and indifference is to address the situation that has left us with far too many rundown and underutilised buildings.

Parramatta can ill-afford to discourage investment and development of surrounding sites. We need to find the right solutions for today's economic challenges and remove barriers that limit opportunity through over regulation.

For as long as I can remember, politicians on all sides have been proponents of preserving Parramatta's historic assets – particularly around election time. Development is not, in my view in conflict with those who want to preserve the sites and open them up for public access.

Since coming to power last year I have actively advocated for a Master Plan that can marry the requirements of economic sustainability, public access and preservation. This can be delivered for the people of Parramatta and NSW providing there is political will and community and business support.

We need to broaden our vision for Parramatta and its unique attributes. The potential is enormous. Unlocking the economic potential is the best prospect for preservation, sustainability and access.

This is a significant win for Western Sydney and will make a solid contribution to the continued the economic development of Sydney’s second CBD, while ensuring our heritage assets are rejuvenated and protected.

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Premier Barry O'Farrell ckecks his notes at the recent State of The Region address. Featured

By Red Dwyer

BARRY O’Farrell passed up the opportunity to impress a captive audience with his grasp of the significance Western Sydney, domestically and internationally recently.

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Artist’s impression of the winning Grimshaw design for the corner of Church and Darcy Street – also known as the Hungry Jacks site. Featured

By Red Dwyer

LIKE the mythological phoenix rising from the ashes, Parramatta Square could emerge from the debacle of the controversial $1.6 billion Civic Place project.

After nearly a decade, Parramatta City Council and Grocon, its development partner, mutually agreed to part ways earlier this year.

The project’s demise was put down to the global financial crisis and its aftermath, which the council and Grocon agreed had made it unviable.

The project had been promoted as one of Sydney's biggest urban-redevelopment projects and a tipping point in the future of the Parramatta CBD.

Council now sees the future of the 3-hectare site, opposite Parramatta station, developed as a series of proposals rather than as a single project.

“I believe what we are launching, today, illustrates the vision of where we want to take Parramatta into the future,” Lord Mayor Lorraine Wearne told 200 business people at the annual State of the City Address, a joint venture between council and the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce.

“We think Parramatta Square will come to reflect the transformation of the city as a whole.” The vision includes the first two buildings on a “key” site in the heart of the Parramatta CBD.

One project includes a 65-storey residential building on the Hungry Jack’s outlet, on the corner of Church and Darcy streets, designed by Grimishaw, an international architectural practice with offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Its iconic twisting form blends structural efficiency with contemporary urban living and at 65 storeys or over 700 feet, it will be among the tallest residential buildings, not just in Parramatta, but in NSW,” Cr Wearne said.

Architectus, with offices in Australia and New Zealand, designed an 11-storey, 27,000-square-metre mixed-use building, on the corner of Macquarie and Smith streets.

Grimshaw and Architectus will work with council to submit DAs within the next few months and upon approval, council will seek development and finance partners from Australia and around the world to deliver these projects.

“Parramatta Square represents a desirable and lucrative place to invest and do business (and) upon completion, it is expected to provide accommodation for 13,000 workers,” Cr Wearne said.

Dr Robert Lang, council’s CEO, said council had started work on a business attraction program aimed at government employers, investors and commercial enterprise, both locally and internationally, to come to Parramatta.

As part of the program he said a new brand was being developed for the city.

A straw poll taken by WSBA following the presentations showed the project was well received, with one businessman expressing scepticism.

“Words are cheap; we have heard it all before. Civic Place was talked up right to the death knell,” he said.

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WESTERN Sydney private investor, Chandru Tolani of Chandru Enterprises purchased a fully occupied office building in Parramatta for $18 million.

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The Parramatta Factor - Panorama of a Global Sydney Future Featured

IF Parramatta did not exist it would need to be invented.

So far off centre is the Sydney CBD in the westward expansion of the metropolis that the very sustainability of Global Sydney is at risk.

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Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.