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. 

 

Hopefully the Queensland Brushbox trees that we have all over the municipality will cope with the changed climate since they come from Queensland.

I lived in Melbourne once.  It may have been the part of Melbourne where I lived & worked, but my impression was that Melbourne was leafier & greener than Sydney, so it was with surprise that I read the following headline – ‘A warming Melbourne may need to consider a Sydney tree-change.’ See – http://bit.ly/2tWet7g

The article shows two thermal images of Elizabeth Street Melbourne in January 2017 when the temperature was 36.7 degrees. One image shows the asphalt temperature reached 60 degrees, while the other image shows a temperature of 34.5 degrees in the shade of street trees.

University of Melbourne Clean Air and Urban Landscape research fellow David Kendal said the average temperature of the city has risen 2 degrees in the past 50 years, driven by a combination of climate change and increased development.”

Climate change projections for Melbourne predict the temperature will rise a further 3.5 degrees by 2100.

To cope with the changed conditions, tree species for streets & parks will also need to be changed to cope with the increased heat & to not create hotter urban heat islands.  The Northern European species currently planted across Melbourne will find it hard to survive, as will some Eucalyptus species that grow in the southern part of Australia.

I’ve been wondering when this issue will be addressed in Sydney, especially in the now Inner West Council municipality.  Sydney is historically 4 degrees warmer than Melbourne & we can expect the temperature to increase beyond this to a new norm.

Living in Sydney by the end of the century will be like living in Rockhampton, subtropical Queensland, if global temperatures are allowed to rise by four degrees – the current trajectory of climate change.”   I presume Rockhampton has some very different tree species than we do in Sydney.

Nesting box along the Cooks River in Earlwood.

$200,000 was spent trying to protect wildlife impacted by the Southern Hume Highway Duplication project in Southern NSW.  See – http://ab.co/2uDf9fl

587 nesting boxes were installed to replace the 587 trees with natural hollows that were felled as part of major tree clearing between Holbrook and Coolac to build the highway.  The nesting boxes were to help the Superb parrot, the Brown treecreeper & the squirrel glider deemed threatened or in need of assistance.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services commissioned the nesting boxes, as well as a 4-year follow-up study to see whether the boxes were being used.  The boxes were checked 3,000 times over the four years.

The follow-up study found the project had failed.

“There will be some populations of these species that basically won’t do well now because they won’t have the nesting resources and they won’t have those resources for the next 200 to 300 years.  We need to make sure we don’t make those mistakes again.” ~ Professor David Lindenmayer, Australian National University Canberra.

Trees take between 80-150 years to develop hollows, so changes in tree management is needed if hollow-dependent wildlife are to survive.  We cannot feel confident that nesting boxes can be offered as a substitute for a natural tree hollow.

No hollow means no breeding.  No breeding leads to extinction.

The 2017 National Tree Day site in Steel Park is being prepared with mulch. It is a large area, approximately 50-metres long.  It will join up with last year’s planting site.  

National Tree Day is happening on Sunday 30th July 2017.  Inner West Council (Marrickville) is inviting the community to help add to the environmental work done in Steel Park at last year’s National Tree Day site.

A large area of lawn was removed & the area planted with native plants & trees.   Council wants to create connected areas of habitat along the river for wildlife to live & forage for food & this is a very good thing.

PLANTING –

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:        Steel Park Illawarra Road Marrickville beside the shared pathway along the Cooks River east of the children’s playground.

TIME:             10am – noon.

BRING:          Refillable water bottle & a hat.   Council will provide gloves, tools, watering cans/buckets, drinking water & refreshments.

FREE TREE GIVEAWAY –

Council will also be giving away free trees to increase the urban forest canopy.  The trees will be advanced sized stock (25 litre bags/300mm pots), so you will need to have the means to get the tree home & have room for it to grow in your garden.

Conditions to be eligible for a free tree are –

  • One tree per household. You will need to provide proof of address (Council rates notice or Drivers Licence).
  • Residents must obtain the necessary approvals for selecting the trees and the planting locations within the property boundary. We suggest you investigate where best to plant the tree to minimise any risks to property or people.
  • Inner West Council makes its best endeavours to provide a healthy tree with average growth height information, but makes no warranties concerning the tree.” – from Inner West Council’s website – link below.

The tree species available are all natives & all provide food for wildlife –

  • Lilly Pilly Acmena smithii ‘Red Tip Form’
  • Coast Banksia Banksia integrifolia
  • Bella Donna Brachychiton populneus x acerifolius
  • ‘Dawson River Weeper’ Callistemon viminalis
  • NSW Christmas Bush Ceratopetalum gummiferum
  • Riberry Syzygium luehmannii

Council staff will be available to talk you about tree choice & how to care for it, but you can download information about the trees & their growth expectations here – http://bit.ly/2urXzdS

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:  The free trees can be collected from the southern carpark of the Debbie and Abbey Borgia Centre, entrance off Illawarra Road Marrickville.

TIME:             10am – noon.

BRING:          The trees are “advanced size,” so you will need a suitable vehicle to take your tree home.

There is also a planting event happening at Wilkins Green in Wilkins High School in Marrickville. 

“For National Tree Day, our goal is to plant out the ridgeline, which borders the western side of the Green, with native species, further increasing biodiversity for the whole of the Marrickville area and creating a wildlife corridor, or sanctuary, for native Australian fauna, who will find food and shelter within the Green.  Our long term goal is to create a native Bush Land which is self-sustaining, home to wildlife and a showcase to the wider community of what is possible in the urban landscape.”  How great is that!

WHEN:          Sunday 30th July 2017.

WHERE:        Wilkins Green, in Wilkins High School, corner of Livingstone & Sydneham Roads Marrickville.  Parking is available inside the school through the gate on Sydneham Road or street parking is available.

TIME:             10:00am – 2:00pm

BRING:          They ask that you wear closed toes shoes & bring gloves if you have them.  They also request that you can bring a plate of food to share afterward, as there will be a barbeque.  Refreshments will be supplied.

Many of us have got used to Sydney Park being a National Tree Day site, but it will not be this year.  Instead the main Planet Ark National Tree Day site will be with the City of Parramatta at Third Settlement Reserve in Winston Hills.  Costa the Gnome & Dirtgirl will be there, as well as all the other activities we have seen at Sydney Park over the last few years.  Over 10,000 trees, shrubs & groundcovers will be planted along the creek line in Third Settlement Reserve, which is pretty impressive.

If you are not in the Inner West on National Tree Day or you are interested in traveling to another site, there are plenty of places holding planting events.  They can be found here – http://treeday.planetark.org/find-a-site/search.cfm

A section of last years National Tree Day planting. Photo taken two days ago.  

What was a garden island in lawn is now part of a whole re-vegetated area for wildlife.  The shorter plants were planted last National Tree Day.  Photo taken two days ago.

The Cooks River at the Cooks River Foreshore Marrickville today.

We like to think of ourselves as being environmentally green in Marrickville, but this is going too far.  I have no idea what is causing the water to be this colour & have reported to Sydney Water, Inner West Council & local group, the Cooks River Valley Association.  Maybe it is n early stage of blue-green algae.  I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t look right.

Screenshot of ‘Health impacts of air pollution – South East Coast Greater Melbourne 2016’ – see http://bit.ly/2tu86I0

First I noticed Sydney Council was reclaiming the road corners & creating verge gardens.  Now Inner West Council is also doing this & I think it is wonderful.

I have seen a few of these popping up around Stanmore, Dulwich Hill & Marrickville, though there may be others in suburbs that I have not seen.

Claiming back land to green it up will have many benefits for the community.  Plants & a street tree will obviously soften the landscape & add beauty.  As the tree grows it will create shade, which will lower the urban heat island effect.   If it is a native tree, it will provide food for urban wildlife, which should a priority in my mind.

Street trees trap particulate matter on their leaves, thereby improving air quality & lowering air pollution levels.

The resulting impact of air pollution on the health of people is starting to gain considerable traction amongst the scientific community.  Air pollution has a tonne of negative impacts such as higher incidence of respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis & emphysema.  Lung capacity & lung function also decreases.

There is an increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer, as well as heart disease in all ages, including more fatal heart attacks.  Stroke is another high risk.

Air pollution is a threat to child health with lower birth weight & the increased the risk of infection & developmental delays.  Alzheimer’s disease & other dementias are the latest significant health issues found to be linked to air pollution.  The authorities cannot dismiss air pollution considering the incredible amount of suffering & the costs associated with helping people affected by air pollution.

The photos below shows Clarendon Road Stanmore.  The corner has extensive work creating a verge garden & a large garden on what was once road.  A street tree has also been planted.  If this is the way of the future for many of our wide roads & expansive corners, it will transform the streetscapes of the former Marrickville municipality.

I think it is great that Council has started to use these spaces to add green & trees.  They will not impact on driver sight, as clearly demonstrated in neighbouring suburbs that have many more street trees then we do.  Another added benefit is that corners given this treatment may slow drivers down.  They smaller distance pedestrians need to cover to cross the road should also improve safety.

It’s a win for wildlife & a win for the community.

Clarendon Road Stanmore has been transformed.  The opposite side has a small verge garden.

I am pleased to see Council using a variety of native plants. Once grown they could offer habitat for small insects and lizards.

The Coral tree for removal is centre of this photo.

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove a Coral tree (Erythrina × sykesii ) inside Weekley Park, adjacent to 89 Albany Road Stanmore.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has poor vitality and significant canopy dieback.
  • Major open wound to trunk with decay and loss of structural wood.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

The Coral tree is thought to be a “hybrid of horticultural origin, that was probably developed in Australia or New Zealand.” http://bit.ly/2tsjgKC

It is regarded as a weed tree in NSW because they can regrow from a fallen branch, a twig or stem or even suckers.  Despite this, they can easily be managed in suburban areas as shown by Bayside Council who have classified a number of their old Coral trees as significant & protected.

The condition of this Coral tree in Weekley Park is as described by Council.   They say they will replace this tree with an Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) by September 2017.

While it is a shame to lose this big old Coral tree, I am pleased that it will be replaced with a native tree that puts on a great colour show & can grow to a significant size.  We need big trees.

Illawarra flame trees are native to coastal rainforests from central New South Wales to far north Queensland.  They are deciduous in winter & produce clusters of vivid red bell-shaped flowers over spring-summer, which provide food for nectar-eating birds, bees & butterflies.  Anytime an Illawarra Flame tree is added to the Inner West landscape is a win as far as I am concerned.

The deadline for submissions is this Friday 23rd June 2017.

It appears that the bark was removed to inspect the tree. You can see that it is not in great shape.

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/

The worst day of the Cooks River I have ever seen. This was everywhere….slowly floating down the river towards Botany Bay.

A 2-minute video by the NSW Environment Protection Authority titled ‘Hey Tosser – GPS tracked bottles’ shows how far plastic bottles travel along a range of waterways in Sydney, including the Cooks River.  It is quite incredible.

To watch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH7ZDl1_PE8

Marrickville Golf Course

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove & work on trees located in Marrickville Golf Course.

Council says it plans to do the following –

  • “Tree removal– includes the removal of several dead trees or trees present significant defects and/or structural issues.
  • The creation of habitat trees– where trees are reduced down to safe limbs and boxes and hollows are created for use by native fauna.
  • Tree pruning– to remove defective or dead branches to reduce risk.”

Council do not give the location or number of trees to be removed.  We should be told about each individual tree & why they must be removed.

Nor do they give the number & location of trees they intend to prune or those they intend to make into Habitat Trees.    Council goes on to say that –

“All trees to be removed will be replaced (and more) as part of a planting program to be developed in collaboration with Council, Marrickville Golf Course and the community.”

Again, Council does not tell the community how many new trees will be planted or what species.

This is not something I understand.  I think it is in Council’s interest to tell the community how many trees they will plant because this is positive information that makes people who care about the local environment happy.  If Council had informed the community that they planned to plant 15 new native trees for example, everyone would feel happy about it, which is good for Council.

It is called transparency.  It is their duty.  Open & full communication is the only thing that instills trust in the community for what its government does.   You can’t have words about believing in open government & consultation, but fail to inform your community.

On a positive note, I think it is wonderful that more habitat trees are being created, especially in this important biodiversity corridor along the Cooks River.   I also think it is great that more trees will be planted.  The golf course has plenty of room for more trees.

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