ARAG Opening Statement to Upper House WestConnex Inquiry

On behalf of ARAG, I gave the following statement yesterday at the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Impact of WestConnex:

Alexandria is at the junction of the new M5 and M4 – M5 Link. If WestConnex does not work in Alexandria, WestConnex will not work. The M4 – M5 EIS tells us that WestConnex will not work in Alexandria. Even with the airport gateway, speeds dropped to 20 kilometres an hour by 2033, 7 per cent of vehicles “do not reach their destination”. Without the airport gateway, the network is forecast not to be able to accommodate the forecast traffic demand. The forecast traffic demand caused the computer model to become “inoperable”. The modelling for this project rests on unrealistic assumptions. For example, exit blocking constraints — congestion outside the study area — was removed. The Sydney Gateway was modelled without having a route known. Traffic in Alexandria already crawls. On many streets it is literally faster to walk than to drive. For the WestConnex to work on Alexandria streets, which are already full, they need to carry an extra 60,000 cars a day in an area which is congested and experiencing a rapid increase in population. Funnelling more cars into gridlocked streets is the wrong prescription — RMS knows this; 40 years of traffic research shows this.
The Government is wasting our taxpayer dollars on the wrong solution. This is clear from the WestConnex business case. Why was this allowed to happen? This is what we want from this inquiry. As citizens of this State, we have not been able to find out. The Government has used and abused its powers to keep the project beyond scrutiny. Our submission lists some of the information the public should be able to access, but which has been denied to us. We urge you as the Committee to unearth this information on behalf of us, the citizens and taxpayers of the State, who are watching our health, our houses, our open spaces and our quality of life and our community fabric being destroyed for a project which the Government’s own documentation shows cannot work. The way we calculate costs and benefits is broken. If our democracy worked as a democracy should , with checks and balances, I would not have to be here today.

The full transcript (draft), including questions and answers is available here. The full and final set of transcripts will appear here over time.

There is one more day of hearings, this Monday. Witnesses to appear include Clover Moore, Michelle Zeibots, Dennis Cliche, and more. Hearings are open to the public, and will be streamed live.

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ARAG Meeting Wednesday – Parking, Protecting Sydney Park

The agenda for this month’s meeting is:

Parking:

  • Feedback from Council on our ideas to improve parking

Protecting Sydney Park:

  • it’s being nibbled away!

The meeting will be at the usual time and place of 7pm, Alexandria Town Hall, this coming Wednesday the 10th.

Regards, Ben

Points for an objection: 390 apartments adjacent to Sydney Park

Background: this development is going ahead (the State Government has pushed it through the planning process) but now the developers are back – and they want to exceed the allowable height limits.

As part of their argument, they are using the argument that they ran a design competition so, according to their interpretation of Council rules, should be granted an extra 10% in height.

We think that as a community, we should oppose this loudly and clearly because it will have an impact on our precious and ever-decreasing green space. We urge you to submit an objection.

The best objection is always one that expresses your concerns in your own words.

Having said that, if you are looking for things to mention in to an objection to the DA for 215-225 Euston Road, D/2016/989/B (pictured), something to consider might be that the 10% extra height that the applicant has applied for is not a right..

The LEP (Local Environmental Plan) sets out the rules that should govern the approval process:

“In considering whether development to which this clause applies exhibits design excellence, the consent authority must have regard to the following matters:
(a) whether a high standard of architectural design, materials and detailing appropriate to the building type and location will be achieved,
(b) whether the form and external appearance of the proposed development will improve the quality and amenity of the public domain,
(c) whether the proposed development detrimentally impacts on view corridors,
(d) how the proposed development addresses the following matters:
(i) the suitability of the land for development, …
(x) the impact on, and any proposed improvements to, the public domain,
(xi) the impact on any special character area,
(xii) achieving appropriate interfaces at ground level between the building and the public domain,(xiii) excellence and integration of landscape design.

Last date for submissions is: 24/09/2018

More details, and a link you can click to submit a submission, can be found on the City of Sydney website.

For a guide on the most effective ways to lodge an objection, click here.

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Parking, Metro Quarter, Trucks + Traffic = ARAG Meeting, Wednesday 12 September

This month’s meeting will be held at:

  • 7pm, Wednesday 12 September
  • Alexandria Town (73 Garden St)

The agenda for this meeting is:

  • Parking
  • Metro Quarter Update
  • Trucks invading Alexandria
  • Council Traffic Study  next steps

Please bring your positive suggestions on what can be done to improve the situation.

PS. ARAG’s submission to the Impact of WestConnex Inquiry is available here.

 

WestConnex – good money after bad.

Credit Suisse, the investment bankers, have done an analysis of the returns that NSW can expect from our ‘investment’ in WestConnex.

They estimate the value of WestConnex at, wait for it, $3.0 billion.

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That’s including the existing M4 and M5.

The NSW Government has committed to spending $16.8 billion, in order to sell roads that we already owned, for perhaps $3.0 billion.

According to Credit Suisse, if we had just privatised the M4 and the M5 the value would have been about $9billion.

But the cost of every stage of WestConnex exceeds its value.

Having spent billions already, we are now looking at a return of perhaps $3 billion.

That’s $6 billion less than if we had simply privatised the roads without spending a cent on them.

And that’s not counting the money that has already been spent.

What Credit Suisse’s numbers say is that:

  • if we had privatised the roads without spending a cent, we’d have made about $9 billion.
  • If we stop now, and privatise what we have, we’ll make about $9 billion.
  • If we finish the M4, then stop, we’ll make about $8.5 billion (because the returns on building the M4 East don’t cover the remaining cost).
  • If we finish the M4 and M5 and then stop, we’ll make about $6 billion (because the returns on building the M5 don’t cover the cost of completing the M5)
  • If we finish the M4 and the M5 and then build the M4M5 Link and the Sydney Gateway, the returns to the State will be about $3 billion.

And this is on the Government’s numbers, which I promise you, are dodgy.

The actual cost is already higher than the forecast, and the actual benefits are going to be lower than forecast.

Remember, today (Friday) is the closing date for submissions to the NSW Upper House Inquiry.

NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Impact of WestConnex – submissions close Friday

The NSW Legislative Council (the Upper House) is holding an inquiry into the “Impact of the WestConnex project”.

Submissions close this Friday (the 31st).

A draft copy of the ARAG submission is here.

The terms of reference are here. 

Inner West Council has more information here.

We encourage you to make a submission detailing your personal experience of how WestConnex has impacted on you.

You can make a submission directly.

Or there are a number of websites to help you make a submission:

Construction Vibration Guide for Homeowners

Those who attended the last ARAG meeting will be aware we discussed the “Construction Vibration Guide for Homeowners”, which promises that:

“For residents and homeowners facing imminent large-scale construction, it provides detailed outlines on how to prepare for construction, how to document it, what to do if the home develops damage traceable to the construction, how to recognise damage, how to pursue a claim for repair reimbursement, relevant ground vibration standards, the impact pile-driving equipment that needs to be used to minimise cosmetic or structural damage to homes, the correct vibration monitoring equipment, and more. “

A copy of the guide may be found here.