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Gardeners Road Alexandria outside Bunnings.  If you remember, this street was full of big street trees.  The fig tree in the background may have already been chopped down.  It’s not our area, but close enough to affect us. 

Carnage and much more to come.

Last week we took a trip to Bunnings in Alexandria.   I had been told that street trees had been removed in Gardeners Road, so was on the lookout.

I am never prepared for what I see.  Yes, I know that trees will be gone, but to actually see the barrenness & devastation is always quite a shock.  I am often surprised at the quality of the trees they sacrifice for wider roads, as in this case, or for development & I always wonder whether the trees could have remained if the planners had taken another approach to their designs.

As we drove up Canal Road I was concentrating on the development that is happening.  Massive high-rise apartment blocks are being built all the way to the footpath.  I can’t help but feel for the people who will be living above the belching exhaust fumes from trucks & other vehicles that clog this road.  The NSW government is telling us loud & clear that this is the future of housing in Sydney. What you are looking at is Future Sydney arriving fast.

We get to Bunnings & turned left into Bourke Road.  I was glad I was not driving because I could not rip my eyes away from the corner where a giant tree stump was laid bare & what was filled with big trees was empty.

This corner has always been glorious because of the two rows of big trees.  These were street trees & the inner row of trees that Bunnings did not rip out for parking when they took over the site so many years ago.  I have many times waited outside & watched birds while my husband shopped.

Between Gardeners Road & Bourke Road, a large amount of big fat mature trees have been chopped down.    They are widening the road here – I think to cope with the traffic that will come off WestConnex less than 1km away.

I spoke to staff at Bunnings who all expressed shock at the loss of the trees.  One said it was awful listening to all the birds when the trees were coming down.

Apparently, more trees along Gardeners Road will be removed soon, including a beautiful big old fig.  I was told that the street trees all along the eastern side of Bourke Road will also be removed.

I have cycled along the bike path on Bourke Road & it is a lovely experience.   Yes, it is a busy road, but I felt safe in the separated bicycle lane.  I also loved that a huge part of the route was in shade from the big street trees.

I think this is how all employment zones should look – green & leafy.   Soon this area will look worse than our barest street.  It is terribly sad to lose such undeniable beauty.  It will be an incredible loss of amenity that was provided by these trees &,  I imagine the impact to workers will be huge.    This story is being told all around where WestConnex enters the inner suburbs.  I think the toll is horrendous.

This is from the entrance to Bunnings to the corner of Gardeners Road. This area was full of big trees.

This is on the other side of the entrance to Bunnings. I am told these trees will be removed as well.

Bourke Road Alexandria. I was told all the trees on the right side of this image for the length of the street are to be removed. I hope this information is incorrect.

16-storeys was proposed at Marrickville Railway Station in 2014 and the community thought this was way too high. Now developers are going for 19 storeys on both sides of the road.

Last Sunday we attended a public meeting arranged by the Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance ( www.sydbankalliance.com ) to learn about & discuss proposed developments along the Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor, comprising 11 precincts along the 13.5 km corridor & the Metro line.

Herb Greedy Hall in Marrickville was packed with no standing room to spare.  Some ex- Marrickville Councillors were there.  NSW Greens MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi was the only politician who attended despite invitations being sent to “a tonne of politicians.”

The official speakers were from the Rail Tram & Bus Union, EcoTransit, Friends of Erskinville & the Hurlstone Park Association.  Other representatives from Save Dully, Better Planning & Canterbury also spoke.

It’s been so long since I attended Council Meetings I have lost my ability to take notes fast.  The following is what I managed to write down.  My additions are shown as [  ].  All mistakes are mine.

  • Marrickville Council did a Local Environment Plan review (LEP) to set the development levels.
  • For the LEP the Council & State government decided to increase dwellings across the whole Marrickville municipality by 5,000 to the year 2031.
  • Then the state government added a further 6,000 dwellings in Marrickville & a further 2,000 in Dulwich Hill – more than what was planned for the whole LGA.  
  • The State government Gateway project just gave approval for a further 800 new dwellings at the Victoria Road Precinct in Marrickville. [Do your sums.  This is horrendous.]
  • We already have a train line. There are lots of places across Sydney with no train service.  The Metro is privatised & will cost more.

New speaker –

  • The Metro is not about public transport. It is about over-development. If it were about public transport it would not go along a current rail line.
  • An article in the Sydney Morning Herald 29 June 2017 said there was a push for Australia to become more like Asia.
  • The government calls it an upgrade, but it is a downgrade.
  • It is described as urban renewal, but it is a destruction of a community.
  • The Metro trains are less safe than a current double decker trains. The crash-worthiness of the new Metro trains is not good.
  • There will be shorter trains initially with 10% less seats than currently.
  • The proposed travel time between Bankstown & Sydney will be 26 minutes, 1 minute slower than the old Red Rattlers.
  • The Labor Party has not come out with a position regarding the Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor & Metro Line.

New speaker –

  • The Canterbury development now is a fulfilment of the LEP gazetted in 2012. In 2012 the Council factored in the public transport needs into the LEP.  What we are talking about now is more development on top of the LEP.  It is all about development.
  • The government has not provided a detailed business case, which was noted by the Grattan Institute.

New speaker –

  • There is a lack of transparency in costings.
  • An unprecedented number of community action groups show the opposition to the Metro line & the over-development.
  • Canterbury Road is like a car park already.
  • The high-rise is a poor design uality that will destroy streetscapes & the quality of life & amenity.
  • The public has had no input to plans & the government threatens to take over all planning.
  • The local councils are critical & the locals are suffering.
  • The Hong Kong Model is not appropriate for Sydney.
  • There are no plans for new schools or public buses.
  • The only plan is to rezone the land for developers.   This will lead to the slums of tomorrow with a high price tag.
  • No social housing is included.
  • 20-30% profit is expected.
  • The Metro will lead to a lowering of the tree canopy, heritage, green space, character & quality of life.
  • This project is divisive.

New speaker –

  • Currently there is a move to privatise all Inner West buses.
  • There is nothing wrong with the Bankstown train line. It is not as overcrowded as the Western line.
  • The real issue is there will be no drivers, no guards, no station staff & a lot less seats. It is not about improving services.
  • It is a major Hong Kong property developer developing the Metro line & the housing corridor. All profits will go back to Hong Kong shareholders & the Hong Kong government.  Sydney will be subsiding a foreign government.
  • We have already lost the Sydney Ferries to privatisation. They are pushing to get rid of some of the ferries for smaller ones.
  • The buses are privatised in Newcastle.
  • Region 6 buses are up for sale.
  • It’s increasingly difficult to run a car in this city. It’s even harder to run a bus.
  • The big issue is that people will lose their homes. If development potential was met, 5,000 existing homes, many of them heritage, will be lost.

New speaker –

  • Garden suburbs are being destroyed. Lots of heritage is being lost & will be lost.
  • The developer wants 15 new priority precincts to be announced every year.
  • We have gone from mining to development to sustain this country.
  • A recent Financial Review article warned – proceed with caution on rail privatisation.
  • Read the new plan. We must write submissions & get friends & neighbours to do so as well.
  • They want to build 19 storeys on either side of Marrickville Railway Station. 

New speaker –

  • The area between Canterbury & Bankstown has the largest amount of low income housing in Sydney. The developments will not be for low income people.  This will destroy our community.
  • The Mayor of Blacktown wants to install rail lines across the greater west so people can work there instead of the CBD.

My impression was that this crowd was unhappy with the plans & extremely worried about the destruction & over-development of the area, with the loss of heritage & the look of the streetscapes.

Seems Inner West Council & the City of Canterbury Bankstown Council are not happy either, judging by an article in the Sydney Morning Herald titled, ‘Push for elected councils to have say on plans for 35,000 new homes along Bankstown train line.’  See – http://bit.ly/2sOVnw7

Some points from the article –

  • “Administrators for the Inner West Council and the City of Canterbury Bankstown have criticised the decision to close consultation on the plan to build 35,000 new homes along the existing Bankstown train line on September 3, six days before elections are held to replace administrators with councillors.’ This means local councils cannot put in submissions. Now I would think that, if the government believed what their planning was good, they would not lock out local councils from being part of the consultation process & having their say.
  • “The plans indicate more than 30,000 dwellings are proposed to be built along the rail line, but the only new open space suggested is a linear cycle way,” said City of Canterbury Bankstown administrator Richard Colley. Active and passive open space areas for a good deal of the corridor are undersupplied – even for our existing communities.” I would like to remind you that the former Marrickville municipality has the least green space in Australia.   A bit of green along the Metro line will not cut it when there will be many thousands of new dwellings & a significant increase in the population.
  • Both Mr Colley & Mr Pearson mentioned the need for 40 more schools, upgrades to two hospitals, storm water management [Marrickville municipality was at capacity a few years ago], additional roads & transport. What fun.  It is not hard to envision the loss of amenity.

In a Press Release from Inner West Council dated Thursday 29th June 2017 the following is especially of interest –

  • “One of the aspects of the initial draft that was supported by Council was the promise of new jobs.  But the revised draft has 1,200 fewer jobs, with no explanation. This is disappointing, especially as it is inconsistent with the State Government’s own principle of jobs closer to home.”  See – http://bit.ly/2uPOdc6

In another article from The Conversation titled, Market-driven compaction is no way to build an ecocity,’

  • “Market-driven intensification has in many places permitted a fracturing and ransacking of urban value and amenity, and of human wellbeing, by development capital that has worn the thin robe of legitimacy provided by the compact city ideal. We might summarise this as “urban fracking”: a new means of blasting through accumulated layers of material and symbolic value to extract profit.”  See – http://bit.ly/2uQfXgU 

Yet another article titled,Proceed with caution’ on rail privatisation, UK infrastructure investors warn.’ See – http://bit.ly/2ucL9ZK

  • Britain’s rail networks was “not seen as a great success”. The British government was forced to reassume control of overland rail networks following fatal accidents due to poor maintenance after the networks were privatised in the mid-1990s, while government agency Transport for London took over the running of the London Underground after the public-private partnership running it collapsed in 2010.”

You can download plans for the the Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor here – http://bit.ly/2u7qI0A

The deadline for submissions is Sunday 3rd September 2017, which incidentally is Father’s Day, so get your Dad to put in a submission too.  If we sit back & do nothing, then we essentially consent to radical & perhaps ugly changes to our neighbourhoods.  Nothing is set in stone.  The government will only make changes if enough of the community demands it.

This is the motion put up at the end of the meeting and carried unanimously. Click to enlarge.   Thank you to the Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance for allowing me to share it here.

This is Alexandria from the oasis that is Sydney Park. Alexandria is only part way through being redeveloped and is a good indication of what the development will look like along the Sydenham to Bankstown corridor.

Development along very busy Canal Road in Alexandria is a good example of what is being built for housing these days.    The building comes right to the footpath.  Having no buffer zone between the cars and the housing is is not healthy living for residents in my opinion and that of a whole bunch of researchers into pollution and health. 

 

BEFORE WestConnex removed two rows of mature trees on Euston Road.  Screenshot thanks to Channel 10 Eyewitness News.

Screenshot of WestConnex destruction on Euston Road. Thanks to Channel 10 Eyewitness News.

Dr Paul Torzillo – Head of Respiratory Medicine at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital spoke about the negative health impacts of WestConnex at the 21st May 2017 meeting of the Camperdown Residents Against WestConnex.

I took the following from the video.  However, I recommend watching the whole video (just over 10 minutes) because Dr Torzillo had a lot more to say about the health impacts of WestConnex.

  • “Traffic-related air pollution is a major contributor to air pollution. Projects like this around the world leads to more cars and more cars coming into cities, raising air pollution. 

 

  • There is a huge amount of evidence that air pollution leads to increases death from heart disease, increased hospital admissions, increased risk of stroke, increased respiratory disease & deaths from respiratory disease. It also leads to higher rates low birth weight in kids.   There is no question about this.

 

  • This project is not just an issue for those living in the corridor, this is a thing for Sydney.  The broader Sydney population is going to suffer these consequences.

 

  • Pollution levels will be higher 0.5km either side, at entry & exits & higher at stack points.

 

  • The big picture evidence is that traffic-related air pollution is a major contributor to air pollution in general.

 

  • Air pollution is unequivocally, absolutely shown to increase death rates & the frequency of major health problems in people.”

I have posted here about the impacts of air pollution from traffic quite a few times.  It is great to have a local respiratory medicine specialist to be confirming that traffic-related air pollution will cause major health issues for residents, including early death.

It is not just a road to help people get from A to B in a shorter time.  Pollution moves with the wind, so it will affect Greater Sydney.

If we allow government at all levels to keep pushing through roads & motorways & not spend money improving public transport, we will be living in a very polluted city & suffering the health consequences.  This air pollution will affect all ages from new-borns to the elderly.  No-one will be immune.

Street trees are becoming increasingly important for the community’s health, though you wouldn’t know it if you look at what the WestConnex Authority is doing.  Look at their most recent work in Euston Road Alexandria where they chopped down two rows of mature street trees to increase the road to seven lanes.  Traffic will rise from the current 6,000 vehicles a day to more than 60,000 per day & this is local roads well past the St Peters Interchange.  These people lost their front garden to a highway.  How healthy will it be living there?

You can watch the video here – https://www.facebook.com/friendsoferskineville/

 

A section of Landing Lights Wetland.

A small section of Landing Lights Wetland.

A view into the very large Spring Street Wetlands, which were officially opened in 1994.

A view into the very large Spring Street Wetlands, which were officially opened in 1994.  They have been deemed of “limited ecological value.”  Who decided this I don’t know.

Raised boardwalk Landing Lights Wetland with sign listing bird species in this area.

Raised boardwalk Landing Lights Wetland with a sign listing the bird species that live in this area.

Some local news to make you gasp.

Developer John Boyd Properties wants to have the Kogarah Golf Course moved so that they can build a 100-hectare development featuring 5,000 new dwellings & a new St George Stadium sports stadium at a cost of $100 million.  A development application was submitted to Bayside Council in November 2016.  See – http://bit.ly/2j6sY3e

“Peter Munro from the Cooks River Valley Association said there were two key issues: the impact of development on local species, and the alienation of public land“It’s such a fragile area,” he said. “Botany Bay and its environs contain some of the most important natural but threatened sites on the NSW coast, made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Bay is one of the more developed landscapes in Sydney. “Also once it becomes a golf course, there’s no broad community access. It’s closed to the public.”

The relocated golf course will be built “across 52 hectares of parkland in the southern precinct of the Cook Cove site, which takes in Barton Park, a number of wetlands, and the heritage-listed Arncliffe Market Gardens.”

To soften the community the developers say they will build a public walkway through the golf course, a bird-watching space near the Landing Lights Wetlands & ponds for the green & golden bell frogs.  The M5 6-lane motorway is expected to go through this area.

In the Development Application, the Spring Street Wetland was deemed of “limited ecological value” & so will be removed. This area is thick with trees & mangroves.  If you stand & listen, you can hear the tweeting of many little birds.  This habitat is perfect for them.  Undoubtedly other wildlife calls this area home, but I have not walked through this wetland.

The developer says that they will remediate Landing Lights Wetland, the surrounding saltmarsh & mangroves thereby creating new habitat for endangered green & golden bell frogs & migratory wading birds.

The fact is that all the wildlife that use & fly across the world from as far away as Siberia to the Landing Lights Wetland are doing really well without human intervention. Yes, many years ago a couple of roads have been built & there is a run-down empty stadium, but on the whole, the land has been left alone for decades, apart from remediation efforts by the council & the community.

Bayside Council (nee Rockdale Council) says on their website –

  • “Although highly urbanised, the City has retained several small bushland and wetland areas which play an important role in terms of providing food, habitat and shelter for native animals. These areas are deemed to have ‘conservation value’ (meaning they are worth preserving for future generations) because they represent ecosystems that would otherwise be lost.”
  • “These remaining natural areas are home to particularly diverse, endangered and/or vulnerable species of flora and fauna. A total of 180 native plant species and over 90 vertebrate species of terrestrial animals (not including marine fish) have been identified in the City’s bushland and wetlands.”
  • “Landing Lights Wetland (also known as Riverine Park Wetlands), located at Spring Street, Banksia is one of Council’s most environmentally significant natural areas. The site contains some of the last remaining saline wetlands on the Cooks River and includes vegetation identified as threatened under NSW legislation (salt-marsh).”
  • “The wetlands have aesthetic, heritage and environmental value. They form part of a system of tidal and freshwater swamps, and provide important habitats for a variety of animal and plant species, including common wetland birds and a number of protected migratory birds.”

I presume the birds, frogs & other wildlife will need to fit in to pockets created in the new golf course.  Seriously, how will this work?  How will they save & relocate the green & gold frog?  How will migratory birds adapt so fast to radical changes to their habitat that has been here for thousands of years?

The developer also says this area contaminates the Cooks River.  The Cooks River is contaminated by storm water outlets along the length of the river.  However, wetlands that have been here for thousands of years naturally & perfectly clean the water before it reaches Botany Bay.  I cannot see why it wouldn’t do the same for any water that goes from the wetlands to the river either.   It would be horrible to leave all the other pollution problems of the river as is & destroy remnant wetlands in the name of improving the water quality of the river.

This wet & boggy land will need to be filled in to allow people to play golf.    To me this is a tragedy.  Why is this precious remnant wetland even up for development? 

I understand the concerns of the Kogarah Golf Club for their security of tenure, as they rent from Sydney Airport & Bayside Council.   Their website says they have “been in existence for over 80 years,” so tenure seems pretty solid.    What is unfortunate is that the golf course has temporarily lost 9-holes to the building of the M5 twin tunnels as part of connecting the WestConnex motorway. There will also be a ventilation stack within the golf course, which is not good.   However, it comes down to a ventilation stack in a golf course or a ventilation stack in amongst high-rise housing.

And then there are the trees.   Like any golf course, Kogarah Golf Course has possibly thousands of trees & some of these trees are spectacular & should be classified as ‘significant’ & protected.  Many of these trees will likely be lost to high-rise development.   This whole green space will be lost to development.

It’s not a good counterargument to say that there will be new trees in the new golf course.  It takes time for new trees to grow & importantly, the destruction of remnant biodiversity rich wetlands for a golf course is a patently poor exchange.

In reality, all this environmental destruction will be happening so a developer can sell apartments that have water views of the Cooks River, Wolli Creek, Muddy Creek & of Botany Bay.  Water views spell MONEY – big money.  

My impression of Bayside Council when I have spoken with them is that they are fiercely protective & proud of their natural environment.  Their website confirms this.  They have done some brilliant work along the Wetland Highway & Botany Bay.  My hope is that Bayside Council refuse this development application, protect Landing Lights Wetland & the other wetlands & allow them to remain undeveloped into perpetuity.

Our city is changing fast & it is likely that in the next 10-15 years our suburbs will contain more high-rise than not.  Pockets of biodiversity rich habitat will become even more precious & rare.  These places will be vitally important to help the wildlife survive – else there will be very little of worth & no connectivity & we as a community will be much poorer as a result.

If you want to learn more & see the natural landscape that is at risk, you can watch ‘The Corridor.’  “The Corridor” explores the conflict between our desire to hold on to natural areas and the ever-pressing push for development, concentrating on one location, and one road.  The location is Rockdale, NSW, Australia. The road is the F6 extension.”  This video was made in 2015 before the issue of 5,000 new dwellings & the relocation of the golf course was publically raised.  It’s an interesting & informative video with anti-development & pro-development sides represented & is well worth watching.    – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDFXrqs5E-Q

You can download the development proposal here – http://bit.ly/2iORRgI While it all looks & sounds great, no new development can ever replace the wild nature of remnant lands.

Anyone can put in a submission regarding this development application because it is significant to the whole of Sydney.  You can send a submission to Bayside Council at council@bayside.nsw.gov.au quoting ‘DA-2017/179.’  The deadline for submissions is Friday 27th January 2017.  

DA image of relocation of Kogarah Golf Course.

DA image of relocation of Kogarah Golf Course.  The top shows the current location of the Kogarah Golf Course & the bottom image shows where it will be relocated to if the Development Application is approved by Bayside Council.  The land for the relocated golf course is massive & will require the destruction of biodiversity rich wetlands.  What is now 52 hectares of public land will be a private golf course & the current golf course will be high-rise housing.  This is not a win for the community, but more especially, it is devastating for the wildlife.

The current Kogarah Golf Course is just across the river from Sydney Airport. While we were on the southern side just outside the golf course, we could hear the planes revving loudly. It made us wonder how people could live here. The noise would be intolerable in our opinion.

The current Kogarah Golf Course is just across the river from Sydney Airport. While we were on the southern side just outside the golf course, we could hear the planes revving loudly.  It made us wonder how people could live here. The noise would be intolerable in our opinion.

Sign in the Riverine Parklands warming people of a massive fine or 2 years imprisonment if they damage the habitat in this location.

Sign in the Riverine Parklands warming people of a massive fine or 2 years imprisonment (or both) if they damage the habitat in this location, yet developers want this land to build a golf course.

This is a big tree - one of hundreds of big trees that will be removed to widen Campbell Street & Euston Road for the WestConnex Motorway

This is a very big tree – one of hundreds of big trees that will be removed to widen Campbell Street & Euston Road for the WestConnex Motorway

The trees in Euston Road are big, much bigger than the street trees we are used to seeing in the old Marrickville municipality

The trees in Euston Road are big, much bigger than the street trees we are used to seeing in what until recently, was Marrickville municipality.  Stand here and all you can here is birdsong, especially Fig birds.

Every tree you see is to be removed. Just past the grass is the lower pond filled with water birds. It appears that the land taken by WestConnex will come very close to this pond.

Every tree you see is to be removed. Just past the grass is the lower pond filled with water birds. It appears that the land taken by WestConnex will come very close to this pond.

We have just returned from the ‘Save Sydney Park Festival’ organised by the WestConnex Action Group & Reclaim the Streets.   We also visited the Camp of residents who have stayed in the park for the past 13 days.   It has not been without drama though.  At 3am on 20th September, police evicted the camp & the WestConnex Authority came & fenced off the campsite.  The Camp moved further up the park & re-pitched their tents.  Today a lone security guard sat in the fenced off area protecting the trees from the community for the WestConnex Authority.  Taxpayers’ dollars at work. It’s the community which wants to save the trees.

The Camp of the WestConnex Action Group & supporters

The Camp of the WestConnex Action Group & supporters

The WestConnex Authority is preparing to chop down hundreds of trees along Campbell Street & Euston Road St Peters.  If this wasn’t bad enough, they also intend to encroach 12-metres into Sydney Park itself & remove many mature trees, shrubs & gardens.

The WestConnex Action Group ( http://www.westconnexactiongroup.org.au ) says that, “The State Government is cutting down more than 350 trees & taking 14,000 square metres of Sydney Park to build their dirty toll road.”

The WestConnex Action Group has spent a significant number of people hours tying blue fabric around each tree to be removed.  There is blue everywhere you look.  Hundreds of decades old trees will be felled.  Even worse is the blue fabric around massive trees inside Sydney Park.  It is also reasonable to think that any tree within 10-metres of the work zone would also be at risk of dying if their roots extend into the work zone, so perhaps more precious trees will be casualties of this motorway.

Sydney Park may seem like a big park, but we don;t have much green space in the area & to lose any is terrible. Sydney Park is only across the road from the boundary of the old Marrickville Municipality.  The old Marrickville municipality has the least green space in Australia.  Therefore, Sydney Park is used a lot by this community, plus the community of the City of Sydney municipality & the numerous visitors who travel significant distance to spend time in the park.  No wonder. It is a beautiful park that just keeps on improving every year.

So for the WestConnex Authority to take a whopping 14,000 square metres of Sydney Park in an area with very little green space is a huge loss.

Campbell Street & Euston Road St Peters will be widened into 6 lanes taking traffic from the St Peters Interchange (colloquially known as the Spaghetti Junction) to Alexandria, Mascot & Newtown then into surrounding roads originally built for horses with carts.  The traffic bottle necks are going to be very frustrating to drivers & for the local community who are going to be hit with far more traffic than they have ever experienced, plus associated air pollution & health issues from the pollution.

The St Peters Interchange itself is massive & one wonders why it needs to be so large.  Looking at the plans it looks to be three-quarters the size of Sydney Park.

An article published three days ago in the Telegraph, (which I am unable to access again to give you the link) said that 85,000 square metres of new parkland will be created under & around the St Peters Interchange.  The new parkland will come with two ventilation stacks.   The first public space is due to be opened in 2019 & the second in 2023.

Now I don’t know about you, but we will be very unlikely to choose to spend our time outdoors under a freeway spaghetti junction with particulate matter dropping down on us from the vehicles traveling above & pollution from the two ventilation stacks.   It won’t matter how green the grass is.

It seems that the WestConnex Authority has carte blanche to seize public green space for this motorway.  Just a couple of weeks ago they levelled 1.4 hectares of critically endangered REMNANT Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark forest in Wolli Creek for a TEMPORARY car park.  Unbelievable!   See – http://bit.ly/2cpNw1i   This action is a big fat “we just don’t care about the environment” by the WestConnex Authority, aka the NSW government.

The WestConnex Authority tried it on for historic Ashfield Park wanting to destroy heritage trees & take away community green space, again for a car park.  See – http://bit.ly/2dkCivB   Thankfully the community won & Ashfield Park was saved.  Hopefully Sydney Park can also be saved.

My question to the NSW Government is – why do you choose to rob the Inner West community of green space?  Why not purchase the industrial buildings across the road from Sydney Park to provide the space needed to widen the road?  They certainly did not hesitate to force people out of their homes, so why not the same equity for industrial properties?   Or why not build better public transport?

We looked around, spoke to numerous people & heard the anger, dismay & the concern for the park, the trees & the wildlife.  Then we cycled around for a good look at what is proposed to be lost to road.  Of concern is the wildlife – the Bell frogs, the Tawny frogmouths & number other birds & all the other creatures that live in the trees to be removed.  The area subsumed comes mighty close to the bottom pond, which is also of concern.  Hopefully my photos will show what is to be lost more effectively than my words.

Everywhere I looked I saw big trees and blue ribbons indicating that these trees were to be chopped down.

Everywhere I looked I saw big trees and blue ribbons indicating that these trees were to be chopped down.  All the trees in the centre of the photograph are also in the area to be claimed by the WestConnex Authority.

The signs say it clearly

The signs say it clearly.   We cannot forget about the wildlife.

Some of the signs in the Camp.

Some of the signs in the Camp.

More signs

More signs

A sign in Campbell Street eloquently expresses community anger

A sign in Campbell Street eloquently expresses community anger

Local graffiti directing people to

Local graffiti is another visible sign of community anger.

The Town and Country Hotel at St Peter's -immortalised in the Duncan song by Slim Dusty is a casualty of WestConnex.

The Town and Country Hotel at St Peter’s -immortalised in the Duncan song by Slim Dusty & also a casualty of WestConnex.    PS.  In the Sun-Herald today, 2nd October 2016, there is an article titled, ‘Legal row leaves pub with no beer.’  In a nutshell, the Town and Country Hotel “fought off the threat from an extension to WestConnex….”  So I was wrong.  This iconic pub survives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map of area to be acquired for a construction area for WestConnex. Photo via Sunday Herald. The millet and mung bean meadow created to add nitrogen to the soil for the orchard is in this area.

Map of area to be acquired for a construction area for WestConnex. Image via Sunday Herald. The millet and mung bean meadow created to add nitrogen to the soil for the orchard is in this area, which is just below last year’s National Tree Day planting site.

Bad news for Sydney Park in the Sunday Herald newspaper today. See – http://bit.ly/1Ztiyoa

The WestConnex Authority is compulsorily acquiring 6,000 square metres of parkland along Campbell Street St Peters for use as a construction site while building the St Peters Interchange. This will require the removal of a whopping 350 trees.

According to the article, the WestConnex Authority has already earmarked 8000 square metres of Sydney Park to create wider roads, which will be a permanent loss of green space.

Sydney Motorway Corporation said the 6,000 square metres of parkland along Campbell Street will be “rehabilitated & returned for use as open space.” The expected completion date of WestConnex Motorway is 2023.

While at National Tree Day 2015 in Sydney Park, I talked to staff who were at the City Farm stall.  This very exciting project is to create a city farm with orchard in the south-west corner of Sydney Park, which I think is exactly where WestConnex now intends to take 6,000 square metres of land.  If so, this makes the news even more devastating.

 

Carrington Road Marrickville South - I was interested to see that the artists impression incuded these heritage Canary Island palm trees & the cycle path.

Carrington Road Marrickville South – I was interested to see that the artists impression incuded these heritage Canary Island palm trees & the cycle path.

It is worth having a look at the ‘artist’s impression’ of development supposed to be coming to Carrington Road Marrickville in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.  Of note is that this area has always been zoned industrial & is prone to flooding. See – http://bit.ly/1VQQzSQ

Thankfully Marrickville Council did not leap on the bandwagon.

Marrickville Council was immediately sceptical about aspects of the plan. A spokeswoman said the council supported increasing densities around stations, but “a lighter touch that allows new forms of dense housing that can work with the established pattern of streets and the grain of the subdivision is essential”.

In October 2013 I wrote about the plans I found for two 23-storey towers, part of a massive development for the eastern side of Carrington Road. The state government plans include high-rise on both sides of Carrington Road. See – http://bit.ly/1NceS6k

One good thing about the plans is the revival of The Greenway, which was dumped by the NSW state government in 2013.

Where will people work if we lose our industrial lands?

Table tennis table on The Goods Line.  The view looks back towards Haymarket.

One of the table tennis tables.  The view looks back towards Haymarket.

Looking towards The Powerhouse Museum.  Garden beds are everywhere.  Although they look space at the moment, in a short while they should be brimming.

Looking towards the Powerhouse Museum. Garden beds are everywhere. Although they look sparce at the moment, in a short while they should be brimming with flowers.

The Goods Line was officially opened last Sunday, so we took the opportunity of a dull rainy day to go & have a look.

Raised 4-metres above the street, this disused rail corridor that connects from Ultimo Road Haymarket to Macarthur Street Ultimo has been transformed into a playground for Sydney-siders at a cost of $15 million.

The University of Technology has numerous buildings beside The Goods Line, so this area will be a fabulous meeting place for the thousands of students.  It also allows pedestrian & bicycle to travel safely above the streets & is close to Darling Harbour & China Town.

The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority commissioned ASPECT Studios & CHROFI to design the space, which runs 500-metres.  The Goods Line South will be the next part of this project & will travel from Ultimo Road to Railway Square.

The Goods Line reminds me very much of The Highline in New York City. No problem with doing something similar, as The Highline is a very beautiful much used area of green space, habitat & biodiversity & something that I would consider an outstanding success.  To have something similar in Sydney is a boon as far as I am concerned.

The rail line has not been used since the 1980s. I really like that much of the rail track has been left in place to retain the history of the site. The rail bridge over Ultimo Road is an important part of Sydney’s history as well.  It is the oldest triple girder iron bridge in Australia & was built in 1879.  It’s good to keep such infrastructure & even better to incorporate it into The Goods Line.

The Goods Line consists of a large wide area for pedestrians & cyclists. There are many raised & lowered garden beds along the length. There are also raised areas of lawn like giant carpets for people to lounge upon & soak up the sun like lizards.

Seating is a strong feature with many attractive wooden seats, concrete seats, single metal seats & other areas where people can perch & talk. There is also public art & lots of bicycle racks.

There are entertainment spaces, an amphitheatre-like place where meetings can be held or where people can listen to live music or watch performances. There is also a small playground in amongst the flowers.

There is a water playground for the children that only turns on if interacted with. In this are several movable dams, which help children learn while having fun.  The whole area has places to climb & jump & has a sandpit connected with it. In the sandpit area is a historical sandstone culvert that not only looks beautiful, but offers an interesting place for children to play.

There are metal table tennis tables. Be sure to bring your own bats & balls, as these are not provided.  All the tables were being used while we were there.  It was good to see.

Manual levers for the rail lines.  It's great that these were left.

Manual levers for the rail lines. It’s great that these were left.

There is also lots of quiet seating provided in pockets along the line of mature Hill’s Fig trees that are growing along Darling Drive. These gorgeous trees cascade over The Goods Line & add significant greenery, plus much-needed shade. They also provide food & habitat for local wildlife & dull the sound of local traffic.

The seats under the Fig trees have power points for people to recharge their computers & the like, so I imagine will become a favourite place for students to study.

Many of the buildings that line The Goods Line are interesting in themselves, & add to the significant character of the place. The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, locally known as the ‘Paper Bag Building’ & designed by Frank Gehry, is connected to The Goods Line & offers much visual interest.  I think this building will be of particular interest to photographers & may become one of the most photographed buildings in Sydney.

The Tramsheds of the Powerhouse Museum also look terrific. The maroon of these buildings would look amazing on a blue sky day.  Of note was that the hard surfaces such as the ground and the raised areas were albido, so they reflect heat upwards & do not retain heat as much as darker surfaces do during the night. Not only will this help lower the urban heat island effect, but visually the lighter colours add to a sense of cleanliness & expansiveness.

Everything made of metal like the table tennis tables & many of the seats were a bright yellow. Not only did this make them easier to see, but also added a cheery feel to the place. Most people have a positive association with the colour yellow seeing it as a happy colour.   Add light expansive colour, flowers & grass of the grass & the trees & you have a positive colour range that allows people’s minds to rest.

Even the wooden railings were oiled & looked impressive. I like it when things don’t look cheap or only half done.

Water for people, water for dogs & water for wildlife.

Water for people, water for dogs & water for wildlife.

There were a number of bubblers offering fresh water. Again the birds & other wildlife have been considered because fresh water is available for them from a bowl at the bottom of the bubbler. Of course dogs can drink from this too.  Obviously the designers were aware that wildlife, especially birds improve the experience for people. Bird song is another thing that makes most people happy, even if they not consciously aware of hearing birds. Bird song also provides white noise distracting the ear from hearing traffic.

What I found particularly interesting & pleasing was the choice of plants. Native grasses have been sparingly used. Hooray! Instead Boronias mix with alyssum & Gaura. Kangaroo Paws mix with Salvia & Echinacea.

Apparently more than 30 different exotics & natives have been planted. Many of the flowers are blue, so I would not be surprised if Blue Banded bees move in. That would be really special.   There are beehives in the CBD, so these flowers will also support the bees.

“One of the big lessons from the High Line is that plants, and especially flowers, change people’s behaviour. They slow down, they look, they hold hands, they connect, so though the Goods Line isn’t the High Line, it’s good to see some flowers. The garden beds are fitted into the wedges and platforms where the railway tracks escape the path. ….. Right now the plants look marooned in the gravel, but once they settle the effect should be of something slightly wild and unkempt and appealingly full of flowers; an unexpected garden in the city.” See – http://bit.ly/1QhHTOM

Showing one of the amphitheatre areas.  I liked the use of mirrors to relect space.

Showing one of the amphitheatre areas. I liked the use of mirrors to reflect space.

I like the gravel. It’s a nice change from woodchip & just as effective for cooling the soil.  Plus it offers homes for insects. The gravel also makes a visual link to the past when this was a railway line.

The only thing I don’t like is the row of ornamental pear trees. Sure they are hardy, but they are far from attractive & these that are pruned to grow straight upwards do not provide much in the way of shade. I think they could have chosen a better species of tree for the space. I did like the Banksias. They are interesting trees for overseas visitors, tough as nails & also provide for the wildlife.  I also liked that old Pepper trees were retained.

All up, I think The Goods Line is already a success. Once the gardens grow it will only improve. A lot of good thought has gone into making this a space that is very people-friendly. Add the fantastic Paper Bag Building & it all becomes very special. Take the steps down and walk around this building. It looks completely different from the back & I think it is well worth it to see from all angles.

More green space in the city – who could complain? Well done to all involved & thanks from me.   This is somewhere I would most certainly take visitors. The connection to China Town, Darling Harbour & the Powerhouse Museum makes The Goods Line a very attractive place to visit.

Seating inside a garden bed with banksia trees behind.

Seating inside a garden bed with banksia trees behind.

Looking back towards Haymarket.  This  long table would  easily fit 50 people.

Looking back towards Haymarket. This long table would easily fit 50 people.  The Fig trees are really impressive.

Gardens & the Tramsheds in the background.

Gardens, a small playground & the Tramsheds in the background.

The Dr Chau Chak Building is connected to The Goods Line & adds much interest. The back is entirely different.

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is connected to The Goods Line & adds much interest. The back is entirely different & worth going to look at.

 

They put the trees in before the people.  Buildings set back from the street, wide verges, wide verge gardens & street trees, as well as trees outside each ground floor unit.

They put the trees in before the people. Buildings set back from the street, wide verges, wide verge gardens & street trees, as well as trees outside each ground floor unit.

This is right beside the rail line.

This is right beside the rail line. 

Last week we wandered around a new high-rise housing complex in Erskineville & we were impressed.  The development included a few of what I believe are fundamental elements in providing housing that is humane & livable & not just building a ghetto for the sake of a developer’s profits.

None of the buildings have been built right to the footpath, which unfortunately seems to be the norm in the high-rise development that has been happening across Marrickville & Dulwich Hill over the past couple of years. Instead, the buildings are set back from the street, providing room for street trees, verge gardens & other landscaping, as well as pedestrians.

The spaces between buildings are more than pedestrian thoroughfares. They are attractive green spaces with plenty of seating under the shade of trees. These are places for people to meet, people to read a paper, or just sit.

Once the trees have grown there will be plenty of shade throughout the streets & between apartment blocks. Of interest is that all the newly planted trees are already tall. That developer has already provided many substantial trees before those homes are inhabited.

This community won’t be waiting 5-years plus for trees to grow to where they start providing a modicum of benefit. I’ll bet that incidence of tree vandalism will be low to non-existent because of their size.

Ground-floor apartments have a tree in their small front garden. This tree will provide shade, privacy, a green outlook & importantly, protection from particulate matter in air pollution. Many of the trees will provide the same benefits for people in the floors above. This is evident by the gum trees in the neighbouring development that are already 6-storeys tall.

Mature trees have been retained where possible, rather than removing every tree from the block before building.  Trees & landscaping have been used to add attractiveness to the apartment blocks.

Having buildings set back from the street & separated from each other improves quality of life for the residents. Noise levels from traffic & trains would be less. Noise from other apartment blocks would also be less.

The roads have been made into single lanes with regular in-street tree planting. Underground parking has been provided, leaving the street parking for visitors.

This development has been built along the railway line. The area in front of the railway line has been planted both with trees & other plants. The trees & landscaping will help buffer the noise from passing trains, as well as provide a wall of green for people to look at.

Shop space has been included, but not as a line of shops underneath an apartment building. They are generally one shop space on a corner of an apartment block & one already looks set to be a café.   In comparison, The Revolution apartments in Marrickville currently have a DA to make the large shop space underneath the apartments into a gambling den serving alcohol until something like 2am.

It’s all very new right now & much of the development is still being built. However, what they have done is show that high-rise living can be built in a way that seriously respects the well-being of the people who will live there.

The norm in high density should be room to move outside, green leafy streets & quiet spaces within & around the complex. Seems that many developers surrender their social responsibility to provide adequate green space in their developments to the possibility that there may be a public park nearby.  New high-rise development should not be squashed-in to maximize profit.  In this development, they seem to be taking their social responsibilities seriously.  Kudos.

Marrickville municipality developers and councilors who go for substandard plans should learn a lesson from this development. Architects should learn not to downgrade what designs & facilities they put into their plans to just what the law requires. We must keep in mind that our municipality has the lowest ratio of green public space across the country.

Even if Marrickville municipality developers, architects & councillors do not wish to play a leadership role, they can as a minimum just follow good examples, like this development, which is just a few metres outside our municipality.

Another section beside the rail line.  Street trees are still being planted.

Another section beside the rail line. Street trees are still being planted.  This verge is a swale to capture water that comes down from the rail line.

Everywhere are verge gardens on either side of the path.  Nowhere does concrete actually meet the building wall.

Everywhere are verge gardens on either side of the path. It’s only in a few places where concrete actually meets the building wall.

A tree outside every unit, plus a verge garden & street trees.  Before long this area will be very leafy, green, cool & shady.

A tree outside every unit, plus a verge garden & street trees. Before long this area will be very leafy, green, cool & shady.

This is a new development next door where people are already living.  Note the tall gum trees everywhere.  There are also lots of other big shady trees in this development, including fig trees.

This is a new development next door where people are already living. Note the tall gum trees everywhere. There is tons of landsaping & also lots of other big shady trees in this development, including fig trees.  This is far better than a high-rise apartment block built directly to the footpath.  

Grey Gulls at Tempe

Gulls at Tempe

On 12th August 2014 I reported on concerns about Marrickville Council’s apparent practice of disclosing to developers identifying particulars of people who make submissions on Development Applications.   See – http://bit.ly/1kADcV1

Marrickville Council then produced a report about its practices of what personal information it discloses to developers.

In a follow up post on 15th September 2014 I reported on a resident’s response to Marrickville Council’s report.  See – http://bit.ly/1y4lwag

The following is a Guest Post by the same resident.

____________________

The reasons for my involvement in this were three :

  1. Marrickville Council’s advertisement of a DA bluntly said that comments received from the community “will not be treated confidentially and may be viewed by the applicant.”   It seemed to me that Council was not allowing for any anonymity and was not proposing that contact details (address or email or telephone number) were going to be treated as confidential.
  1. When I rang Marrickville Council three times about that, I received inconsistent information about Council’s practices and ultimately it was confirmed that Council releases submitters’ contact details, not just the essence of what one may have submitted.
  1. I thought that such practices were contrary to a public agency’s obligations under information access and privacy laws, and more importantly, when the community knows that developers will be able to identify each individual submitter, the community will be discouraged from exercising its democratic right of expressing its views about developments.

Marrickville Council’s report added some new information that was not at play when I responded to the particular advertisement for that particular DA.  Namely, that Council has letters and guidance materials, which are not as blunt as the advertisement.

They seem to say that a person may satisfy the General Manager that there is a need to keep the contact details of a submitter confidential, but only if the submitter provides a statutory declaration that satisfies the General Manager that the submitter’s safety or their family’s safety would be at risk from a release of their personal information. None told me about that when I rang Council.

I then thought and I still think that this is inconsistent with Council’s obligations under the relevant laws.  In my previous guest post I wrote:

“The General Manager is set to decide what identifying information will be revealed to developers for the asking. This is called under the GIPA Act an informal disclosure.  The person who would not want their identifying information revealed will have no appeal rights. The General Manager will be judge and jury. Quite a dictatorial power. And your privacy just gets tossed out the window.”

Marrickville Council’s report highlighted the fact that many other Councils also have confused and inconsistent practices, with the ultimate outcome being that they violate people’s privacy as they please.

The NSW Privacy Commissioner now completed enquiries into Marrickville Council’s practices.   In her letter to Marrickville Council dated 7 November 2014 the Commissioner expressed concerns about Council’s practices.  The letter included the following:

“The Council’s current approach of releasing all information (except the submitter’s address) only where there is a statutory declaration attesting to concern of safety for that person or their family, does not appropriately capture the requirement of the public interest test to be conducted under the GIPA Act by Council prior to disclosing personal or any other information.

Having considered the guidance made available by the Information Commissioner, I am not satisfied that Council’s current approach of publication of all submitters personal information (except where there is a statutory declaration attesting to concerns of safety) is a requirement of the GIPA Act or regulations.

I am also concerned that the current approach adopted by Council in relation to the publication of submitter’s personal information does not take into account the obligations imposed upon councils under the PPIP Act.”   (PPIP Act is the NSW privacy law).

In our times we see many of our rights washed away by governments who think of them as mere red tape.  Our privacy is an important right and as long as we do not say offensive things our anonymity allows us to offer our opinions about issues that concern us without the fear that those who may have different opinions, such as developers in this case, will identify us or obtain our home and contact details.

If a public authority is planning to violate our rights by revealing our identity to developers, as a minimum, we should have the right to say no and the right to appeal to a proper body that will make an impartial decision.

Any revealing of our identity and contact details should be done only when a developer makes a formal application, so that we can have the right to appeal the General Manager’s decision. Anything short of that is dictatorial and causes tremendous harm to us as a collective of people who place our trust in those to whom we grant some powers to manage public affairs on our behalf.

I hope this becomes an example to Marrickville Council, and the other Councils that appear to be just as arrogant in managing our privacy, and I hope that the General Manager takes control of this issue, so that he can adopt the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendation to mend Council’s ways and so that Council staff learn what the law requires of them and cease providing inconsistent and wrong information when people contact them.

End of Guest Post.

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