By Linda Daniele
Pyrmont residents lobbying for the handing back of the historic Scott Street cottages to the community have had their hopes dashed this week.
The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) revealed to City News that the Scott Street cottages in Pyrmont are not part of the final package of community amenities being negotiated for return to the City of Sydney for ongoing care and future development.
Instead, the SHFA will maintain ownership of the cottages and lease them out to private parties for commercial or residential use, as is the case now.
With rejuvenation work being completed in Ultimo and Pyrmont, the SHFA has been relinquishing its stewardship role and management of the precinct and passing it to the City – including community facilities such as Pyrmont Point Park.
Charles Perry from Pyrmont Progress said the SHFA’s actions merely reflect commercial considerations.
“Footpaths and roads and other bits of land cost money to maintain, so they’re handed back – but how about giving back something which would benefit the community?” Mr Perry said.
“If the cottages were under Council control they could be used as a community centre, as artists living, work spaces or even a Men’s Shed.”
Angela Fiumara, spokesperson for the SHFA, acknowledged that the cottages are well placed for community use, but said “the Authority has no plans to transfer ownership of the property to another party in the foreseeable future.”
With the existing leases nearing completion, the SHFA are calling for expressions of interest for use of the cottages. This includes submissions from anyone interested in establishing a business that would benefit the community through services or jobs, Ms Fiumara said.
According to research undertaken by Pyrmont Progress, the cottages were originally city-owned property before the Council was sacked in 1988 and public housing in the area was handed to City West – predecessor to the SHFA.
“The cottages belonged to the City once and the Harbour Foreshore Authority got them by default,” Mr Perry said.
Pyrmont Progress has made several requests for Council to negotiate with the SHFA for the return of the cottages, but is yet to receive a response.
*This article was first published in City Hub, March 28, 2008 and City News, April 5, 2008.