The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Westconnex, released today, is damning of the project’s impacts on the unique heritage value of Haberfield, Australia’s oldest garden suburb.
“The new motorway infrastructure and associated elements would not be sympathetic to the existing built environment or landscape character of the conservation area,” the report says.
Almost all of Haberfield was designated a State Conservation Area in 1985 and was added to the register of the National Estate in 1991.
“The community has been saying all along that Westconnex would rip a hole in this beautiful, one-of-a-kind suburb, and now the Government’s own report confirms it will,” said Jo Haylen, State Member for Summer Hill.
“Once these heritage items are gone, we’ll never get them back,” said Ms Haylen.
The EIS notes that 53 properties within the Haberfield Conservation Area will be demolished, “permanently (removing) a substantial portion of the built heritage items fronting Wattle Street.”
11 heritage items and 29 contributory items will also be demolished.
Further visual impacts will arise from the new infrastructure, “including the ventilation facility and motorway facilities and noise walls, and the loss or reduction of significant streetscapes,” says the report.
The integrity of the original Federation-era plan for Haberfield, designed by Robert Stanton, will be destroyed under the current plans, with the report saying: “The project would effectively fragment the suburb, with the area north of Wattle Street separated from the remainder of the HCA, and interrupt the consistently-spaced street and subdivision pattern of this part of the HCA.”
Emma Brooks Maher, President of the Haberfield Association, says, “In 1991, the Register of the National Estate did a major investigation of the Heritage values of Haberfield and put all of postcode 2045 on the Register, recognising that the whole suburb had national heritage value.”
“What is being proposed, including the demolition of houses, is going to tear that recognition up and cut Haberfield almost in half,” says Brooks Maher.
“What this means is that our national heritage is being trashed for a short-term transport fix,” Brooks Maher says.
“This is not just a local issue. Sydney’s own heritage will be lost as core chunks of Haberfield are rebuilt into tunnel exit portals, a smoke stack and an electricity substation,” said Ms Haylen.
“The EIS has confirmed the community’s worst fears and now the Government has a duty to listen and do what it should have done months ago – listen to the experts and abandon this short-sighted and ridiculous project.”