After an agonising fourteen month wait, the Minister for Planning has finally announced the Government’s updated plans for the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor.
Unfortunately, despite the long wait, there has been very little work done to address the significant concerns of residents who will see their suburbs upturned and forever changed.
The Government plans to add an extra 6,000 units in Marrickville (up from 4,000 in the 2015 plans).
Dulwich Hill will see an additional 2,000 units, just 59 less the 2,059 proposed in the 2015 draft strategy - this despite the Minister indicating that the number had been dropped by 1,400 units – This claim has been revealed as slippery mathematics at best and downright deception at worst.
These new plans fly in the face of the submissions made by the community to the first flawed set of plans, including 561 from Dulwich Hill alone.
As has always been the case, these plans provide no meaningful commitments to new open or recreational space, with only a few civic squares and lineal parks promised to be delivered by developers as “works in kind.”
As anyone who lives in the inner west knows, developers are unlikely to deliver on these promises and a lot more than just small, narrow parks are required to meet the growing demand for genuine recreational spaces and sporting fields.
There are no commitments around extra funding for schools or health care services along the line.
In the recent budget, no additional classrooms were provided for Marrickville or Dulwich Hill, despite 75% of primary schools in my electorate being either over or close to capacity.
There was no commitment around additional funding for Canterbury Hospital, despite the projections for crushing demand on hospital services based on existing building approvals.
Shamefully, there has been no commitment at all in these plans to delivering affordable housing.
No commitment to inclusionary zoning or to new social housing.
In fact, the rezoning will see the removal of swathes of existing affordable housing, particularly around the rezoned areas along Petersham Road in Marrickville.
What is abundantly clear is that these plans are designed for developers and not for the community.
What is perhaps most galling for the people of Marrickville and Dulwich Hill is the fact that the rezoning is predicated on the conversion of the existing T3 Bankstown Line for the new Metro project.
The Government promises that that Southwest Metro project will transform public transport for the South West of Sydney, but the Government has failed at every turn to adequately explain the supposed benefits of their project to the community.
Rather than having an honest and open conversation with the community about the line before any attempt at rezoning, the Government has arrogantly put the cart before the horse.
This has to one of the greatest all-time fails in public consultation.
Of course, we know the Transport Minister has had other things on his mind – including his privatisation of our inner west bus services that no-one in my community wants.
But at the same time, he is proposing to convert a train line which is meeting current public demand when that investment could be put to better use in underserved communities including Western Sydney.
The Government’s failure to explain their project has meant that misinformation and confusion is rife in the community, including:
- That the entire line will be ripped up and replaced with an alternative gauge;
- There are even claims the line will be replaced with Light Rail!
But I don’t blame the community for being confused about this project – it squarely comes down to the failure of this Government and this Minister to properly explain the project.
And yet at the same time, the Government is asking the inner west community to accept mass rezoning and 100,000 more people along the line without any of the community infrastructure needed to support it.
It is a con and it goes to heart of public transport planning under this Government – this is yet another chapter in the relentless privatisation of our public assets, designed to benefit developers and business interests at the express cost of local residents.
Labor will always fight to make sure the train line stays in public hands.
We’ll prioritise investments in public transport that see underserved communities across Sydney are given access to quality and affordable services.
We’ll fight for additional services on the existing light rail service in Dulwich Hill and we’ll fight tooth and nail to keep our inner west buses in public hands.
We know just how important it is to protect our heritage stations and to maintain connections to Erskineville, St Peters and Circular Quay for commuters.
We know just how important it is to minimise any disruption along the line and to ensure seat numbers and accessibility on all our services.
And we understand better than those opposite just how important community infrastructure is to local communities.
The Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor rezonings are nothing more than one of the greatest con jobs perpetrated by this Government against the people of the Inner West.
These plans are for developers, not the inner west community.