Sydney Planning Summit to highlight WestConnex vs public transport issues

Debate over the impact of the massive WestConnex project on the social and economic fabric of Greater Sydney has intensified, with the NSW parliamentary inquiry receiving over 500 submissions from councils, advocacy groups and residents, the vast majority of them critical of the 33-kilometre motorway that is touted as Australia's largest road infrastructure project.

The forthcoming Sydney Planning Summit will address many of the longer term planning issues raised in these submissions, and provide an opportunity for experts to examine and discuss how this project will bear on the future of Australia's global city.

The new motorway, currently under construction, is a joint project of the NSW and Australian governments, linking western Sydney with southwestern Sydney via the inner west. It will be mostly underground and will involve widening and extension of the M4 Western Motorway (M4), a new section for the M5 Motorway (M5), and a new inner western bypass of the Sydney CBD connecting the M4 and M5. The total project is currently costed at $18.6 billion, but it is widely predicted that this will substantially understate the final cost.

Amongst the issues that have been identified in submissions to the inquiry are:

  • increased traffic, pollution, and parking requirements in the city centre;

  • reduced funding available for pedestrian, cycling and public transport;

  • damage to heritage and other buildings along the course of the motorway as a result of construction vibration and settling;

  • location of unfiltered emission stacks close to higher density residential property;

  • negative impacts on local communities, amenities and property values;

  • loss of parkland, trees and valuable inner city land;

  • social and economic impacts of compulsory property acquisitions;

  • lack of transparency, public accountability and cost-benefit analysis in progressing the project.

The City of Sydney has called for current and future stages of the project to be abandoned, claiming in its submission that there has been "a shocking lack of due diligence and rigour associated with this massive investment of public funds".

“The project is marred by an absence of adequate governance and quality assurance processes, misalignment with broader state planning and development policies and a lack of strategic justification. It has been shrouded in secrecy and allowed to proceed without notification and proper approvals.”

The City of Sydney queried why the NSW Government is proceeding with the project, “particularly before they embed their Regional Plan with its three cities model that will see more jobs closer to where people live”.

The inquiry is holding three hearings this week.

The Sydney Planning Summit will be held at Darling Harbour on November 28-29.

More information about the Sydney Planning Summit is here.

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