Posted by & filed under Inner West Independent.

Leichhardt Council has secured an injunction until January 8 against the RTA’s plans to remove 15 car parking spaces on Darling Street.

The temporary injunction was awarded on December 16, in the Land and Environment Court. The RTA had been scheduled to commence work the following morning.

A spokesperson for the RTA, Mark Henderson, said Leichhardt Council had been informed of the changes at the Traffic Committee on November 5.

But this sparked an angry response from Acting Mayor Michele McKenzie. “They raised the matter verbally in General Business and said they would send a consultation letter,” she said. “The expectation was that consultation would occur, not that the RTA would go ahead without further notice.”

An email from the RTA to Leichhardt Council officers, seen by the Independent, said the work “does not require a Review of Environmental Factors”.

But a response from Leichhardt Council stated it was “very concerned” about the “significant impact on the business adjacent and nearby to those parking spaces, to the value of those properties and the residents who use and rely on those businesses”.

Mr Henderson said the changes were deemed necessary to improve traffic flow by reducing queuing across the intersection.

But Joseph Doueihi, of a local dry cleaning shop, said the RTA’s proposal was ill-conceived and would cost jobs. “The RTA may think it’s a small inconvenience, but these car spaces represent over 200 car and customer movements per day and are the lifeblood of the shops along that strip,” he said. “Those customers that don’t come to us won’t go to cafés or restaurants either – it’s going to have a roll-on effect.”

Cr McKenzie agreed the changes would fundamentally alter the character of Rozelle. “You are going to lose the livelihood for 26 businesses and the quiet village life of Rozelle, because what you will have when you remove those car parking spaces is four lanes of fast-moving traffic, all day long, so no-one can cross the road,” she said.

Local MP Verity Firth said she was concerned at the lack of consultation, but added that Leichhardt Council had not taken the time “to address the issue of parking and its impact on residents and businesses”. She said removing some parking spaces could help to alleviate congestion and safety issues at the Victoria Road intersection.

Ms Firth said she had spoken with the Minister for Transport’s office regarding the issue and had “represented all views to the Minister”.