BY ANGIRA BHARADWAJ
State government plans for Sydney’s busiest station may prioritise retail profits over public interests, the community fears.
Local ministers and international transport experts gathered on Wednesday 1 February to discuss how the redevelopment of Central station may be used to create social and economic benefits.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance was a speaker at the event.
“With work soon starting on a new light rail stop, as well as new Sydney Metro platforms, the time is right to think big about how we can transform Central to stand proudly with the grand stations of the world.
“NSW deserves a premier station that everyone can be proud of, one that’s not just a place to pass through but a destination itself,” he said.
However, Greens NSW Transport Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi said she had concerns about the redevelopment prioritising private sector interests ahead of public transport.
“By all means, let’s make Central Station a more welcoming, open and effective space but the primary purpose of a train station must remain the best possible public transport service for passengers.
“The Transport Minister seems to be more concerned about turning Central Station into a mini Westfield rather than focussing on the needs of commuters,” she said.
Patricia Forsythe, Executive Director, Sydney Business Chamber was also present at the forum and said that significant engineering would be required if the government chooses to build over the station.
“Last year we started the process with a forum a year ago and followed it up this year with a second forum. We are focusing on whether they should go further with the redevelopment of the station and look at developing above the station and improving the amenities and connectivity,” she said.
Ms Forsythe said it is important to consider all potential issues before going ahead with the major project.
“We’re very aware that the Central station precinct has a mix of housing, it’s an area also where we see homeless people gather around, there’s student housing in the area.
“There are a lot of diverse group that make up our community and we cannot forget them if you’re doing a major redevelopment,” she said.
Greens MP for Newtown, Jenny Leong said that the community was not opposed to the idea of redevelopment but was vary of what the plans will entail.
“What we’re against is the Government cosying up to unscrupulous developers who are just focused on maximising profits, at the expense of our local area.
“It’s essential that new developments have mandated affordable housing targets [or we will] lose the diverse communities that makes our suburbs so vibrant,” she told news.com.au.
Have your say on the future of Central station: www.yoursay.transport.nsw.gov.au