“It’s not well integrated. We’ve got the opportunity to integrate it further,” he said, adding that planning was about responding to constraints of the area.
The new Bays West strategy, which seeks to revive the area incorporating the port and the White Bay Power Station, identifies the terminal as a key tourism gateway for Sydney and Australia, with a vision to create a thriving business and recreation precinct for visitors.
A spokesperson for the NSW Ports Authority said the agency supported the vision outlined in the strategy. “The Port Authority of NSW was heavily involved in its development.”
The terminal opened in 2013 under the O’Farrell Coalition government but was approved by the outgoing Keneally Labor government a month before the 2011 state election, a decision an inquiry by the NSW upper house later branded a “serious error”.
Its relocation from Barangaroo to White Bay was opposed at the time by the cruise ship industry, City of Sydney and Leichhardt (now Inner West) councils and the National Trust, and sparked complaints from residents about emissions, vibrations and noise.
Elizabeth Mossop, Dean of the UTS School of Design, Architecture and Building, said moving the terminal might be “politically unpalatable” now but it should happen eventually.
“We really need to have public access all the way around the waterfront and that should be the highest priority,” Professor Mossop said.
Jamie Parker, the Greens MP for Balmain, said the terminal “was always in the wrong place” because cruise ship passengers wanted to disembark in the city.
“If it is to stay, there needs to be shore-to-ship power, so that the cruise ships don’t continue to pollute the area with toxic emissions,” he said.
A 2015 parliamentary inquiry found ships were running their generators for up to nine hours a day, polluting the surrounding area.
The draft flags the possibility of developing Robert Street, which runs adjacent to the terminal, into an “attractive and welcoming approach” to the terminal.
Mr Parker said traffic would be a “fundamental conflict as long as there is a cruise ship terminal in that location” but the planned Metro station and a possible ferry service mentioned in the strategy would help alleviate this.
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Angus Thompson is an Urban Affairs reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Caitlin Fitzsimmons is a senior writer for The Sun-Herald, focusing on social affairs.