The City of Sydney is backing a community bid for a "People's Summit" on the Bays Precinct amid concerns about the state government's plans to open up the prime harbourside land to developers.
A council meeting on Monday night allocated up to $60,000 to the summit and other proposed measures intended to increase public participation in the biggest urban renewal project since the Olympics.
The council decision follows Planning Minister Pru Goward's appearance at budget estimates last week where she declined to guarantee that all foreshore land would remain in public ownership as the 80-hectare precinct was redeveloped.
"I will take that on notice," Ms Goward said.
The minister gave the same response when asked to commit to ensuring all unsolicited proposals for the precinct encompassing Glebe Island, White Bay, Rozelle Bay and Blackwattle Bay "be subject to an open competitive tender and proper public scrutiny".
"The guiding principle is that we have an underused part of Sydney, a very rundown, broken down and degraded part of the harbour," Ms Goward told the budget estimates hearing.
"It is important that it be a world-class part of our city. We make no apology for wanting to redevelop it."
But lord mayor Clover Moore told Monday night's meeting that recent planning and development processes, such as that playing out at Barangaroo, had created "significant community distrust" about the state government's plans for the Bays Precinct.
"The community wants to ensure that the public interest is paramount, proper process is followed, decisions are open and transparent, and planning and design excellence are central," Cr Moore said.
She said there was concern the government's public consultation slated for February was too late to have a meaningful impact.
A public meeting of the Bays Precinct communities, attended by several City of Sydney councillors, proposed the people's summit be held before the government's invitation-only expert summit in November.
A resolution passed by the August 4 meeting also called for government's summit to include a "significant number" of community representatives.
"The Government's announcement of the Bays Precinct Urban Development Project excludes community participation until after the Summit and then offers token engagement through forums to inform the community of the Summit outcomes," it said.
"This is patronising, undemocratic and unacceptable."
The University of Sydney's faculty of architecture, design and planning had also proposed a series of events considering the Bays Precinct that could be co-ordinated with the summit, Cr Moore said.
Liberal Edward Mandla was the only councillor to oppose the council's support of the measures, citing it as an example of "small-minded thinking".
"It's better handled by people who know what they're doing," Cr Mandla said.
The council resolution said Cr Moore will write to Ms Goward to urge the state government to jointly fund and plan the people's summit.
A spokesman for Ms Goward said the government remained committed to the expert summit being the "next step" in the development of the Bays Precinct.