Council successful on WestConnex advocacy

Inner West Council has welcomed a guarantee by WestConnex Minister Stuart Ayres that all residual land associated with the motorway will be given back to the community.

The low-key announcement was made on-air last night on ABC TV.

Council has been calling on the State Government to convert residual lands not used for WestConnex into public parklands or other facilities since early this year, when Administrator Richard Pearson told the State Government that this would show it was willing to deliver local benefits to inner west residents, who are bearing the brunt of the WestConnex project.

“There is plenty of ‘residual’ land that has been acquired for the motorway that won’t actually be needed. In January, we called on the State Government to make a commitment that all these lands would be retained for public benefit,” he said.

Mr Pearson said while he welcomed the announcement, he was surprised the Minister did not inform Inner West Council of the pending decision.

“This is not the first time the Minister for WestConnex has failed to inform me of decisions that directly affect Inner West Council residents,” he said.

“Before last night’s announcement, there was also the recent decision to abandon all plans for a WestConnex Stage 3 construction dive site near a Leichhardt high school. We had also lobbied hard against the site. But the Minister made the announcement without letting me know beforehand.”

Mr Pearson said he was keen to work with Mr Ayres given the WestConnex project has its most significant impacts in the inner west.

“In fact, I wrote to Mr Ayres in early February, after his appointment as Minister for WestConnex, and asked him for a meeting. I told him I would appreciate working with him to resolve a number of key issues,” Mr Pearson said.

“These included not only the residual lands and the Leichhardt dive site, but also the implementation of a school zone near St Peters Public School to ensure the safety of school children is not compromised by WestConnex.

“Plus, I asked him to discuss with me the need for an earlier commitment to fund and implement traffic calming schemes where we expect increased traffic movements once different stages of WestConnex commence, a study which Council has now itself commenced.

“And I requested that we work co-operatively to better manage the construction impacts of the project on our residents.

“Yesterday’s announcement on the residual lands is a good policy and we welcome it. However, a bit more consideration for the residents of the inner west – who are experiencing all the negatives of WestConnex and very few of the benefits – in the future would be greatly appreciated.”

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