PARRAMATTA jail will not reopen after Corrections Minister David Elliott withdrew his proposal. Picture: Bob Barker Parramatta jail is to remain closed.
The State Government was considering reopening the colonial site to lift pressure from the state’s overcrowded prisons.
Mr Elliott told The Parramatta Advertiser he decided against reopening the jail, which closed in 2011.
“I can’t reconcile myself spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars reopening the jail, with all the development happening in the area such as the Powerhouse, the light rail, Westmead and … in the CBD,” he said.
It is estimated a refurbishment of the colonial site would cost more than $10 million.
Parramatta state Liberal MP Geoff Lee called it a “big win” for the community.
“Despite the prison overcrowding concerns, it would place a serious impediment on the North Parramatta heritage precinct,” Mr Lee said.
To deal with prisoner numbers, the government has announced it will close Long Bay jail and build a mega jail in Wollondilly in southwest Sydney, to hold up to 5000 prisoners.
North Parramatta Residents Action Group president Suzette Meade said instead of alleviating dangerous overcrowding in prisons, the government was putting prison officers lives at risk by packing prisoners into cells for another three-plus years until the proposed new mega jail was constructed.
“The Fleet St heritage precinct was in no danger from the short-term reopening of the historic Parramatta jail,” Ms Meade said.
“What was under threat was this government’s grubby money grabbing real estate deal to flog off public land,” she said
There was no east versus west cultural divide when an unlikely alliance was formed this week. The lobby group opposed to the Powerhouse Museum relocation to Parramatta has joined forces with the North Parramatta Residents Action Group (NPRAG).
Save the Powerhouse members travelled to Parramatta this week to join Greens MP Jamie Parker and independent Alex Greenwich on a site tour of the historical Fleet Street precinct.
Parramatta jail could reopen, five years after the state heritage listed facility closed. The state government will consider reopening the jail to address record numbers of inmates and prison overcrowding.
Opened in 1842, it was the oldest serving correctional centre in Australia.
“The government is considering all options at the moment to address the need for new beds for corrective services,” Parramatta MP Geoff Lee said. “Ultimately, the decision about reopening Parramatta Jail will be guided by a sensible long-term solution that addresses the needs of whole of the community.”
The Deerubbin Aboriginal Land Council claimed ownership of the jail 12 months ago but haven’t revealed their plans for the abandoned site.
North Parramatta Residents Action Group welcomed the protection of the jail’s heritage but reiterated calls to press pause on developing high density residential around the Fleet Street heritage precinct.
“The Premier has an opportunity to be the leader that created a legacy of a world class cultural and arts precinct that will deliver long term jobs and economic growth for western Sydney, instead of just adding Parramatta to his long list of public asset sales in NSW.” president Suzette Meade said.
“The Premier could show further strong leadership by calling on the federal government to fast track the declaration of the National Heritage Listing of the irreplaceable heritage assets in the precinct.”
TWO community groups have come together to ensure Parramatta is protected from overdevelopment.
Jon Hillman, Rob Macqueen, Alice Kershaw, Judith Dunn and Suzette Meade.North Parramatta Residents Action Group (NPRAG) and the Parramatta Female Factory Friends will aim to protect and encourage the appropriate rescue of the Cumberland East Health Precinct in North Parramatta.
The State Government has plans for a massive residential and commercial development, including 2700 apartments, but the two groups don’t agree with the proposal.
NPRAG and Parramatta Female Factory Friends have signed a memorandum of understanding with the “ultimate purpose to save the precinct as a highly significant social, economic and cultural asset for Parramatta, NSW and Australia”.
NPRAG president Suzette Meade said the groups wanted to focus their energies and resources in a more coordinated and effective way.
“We believe our alternative vision for the Cumberland Hospital grounds for a heritage and cultural landscape will ignite Parramatta city on to the world stage,” Ms Meade said.
Parramatta Female Factory Friends president Gay Hendriksen said the two groups had common goals for the preservation and access for the Female Factory.
“Our vision is not for private use but Female Factory as a living museum and national resource centre and associated sites for creative activation determined with the community and accessed by the community,” she said.
A public meeting will be held to discuss the future of the Fleet St Heritage Precinct in North Parramatta on Tuesday, February 16 at Burnside Public School Hall, 6.30pm.
All councillors were against the museum being built at the old David Jones carpark site, on the riverbank in Phillip St. Another option the State Government was looking at was the old golf course site.
North Parramatta Residents Action Group president Suzette Meade said the government’s plan to move the Powerhouse out of Ultimo to Parramatta was nothing more than a “cash-grab to sell another public asset and a gift to developers.”
“ NPRAG would like to see Parramatta house the Museum of NSW celebrating our cultural diversity from indigenous beginnings through to our rich migration history with nearly half our residents born overseas,” Ms Meade said.
Constitution Hill Residents meet with Mayor Paul Garrard, Clr Julia Finn, Shadow Minister Water Mick Veitch, National Trusts Brian Powyer and NPRAG President Suzette Meade at Caloola Road Reserve. Notable resident former NSW Premier Nathan Rees also attended.
But last week it announced it would put the sale on hold while it explored further options for the site, sparking a sigh of relief among the community.
Parramatta Clr Julia Finn and Shadow Minister Water & Lands MP Mick Veitch stand where irish convicts did over 200 years ago looking into Parramatta from Constitution Hill
“Not only is this historically significant park important to Australians but to the Irish in our nations colonial beginnings,” Ms Meade said.
“With our society leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, open parkland and green space is vital, not only for physical but mental health of the community — once its gone its gone.”
Parramatta Lord Mayor Paul Garrard said the site was of vital importance to the city and nation’s heritage.