By Peter Hehir
The NSW Supreme Court has overturned the earlier favourable Desane decision, thus preventing the 180 unit and commercial premises development.
This means that WestConnex will utilise all of the Rozelle goods yard as a construction site, as well as the properties fronting Lilyfield Road. These are the Desane site, the old Easton Park Hotel, Gillespie Cranes and Ironwood sites and the area owned by Swadlings.
Although opposition to WestConnex here on the peninsula and especially in Rozelle and Lilyfield is as solid as it’s ever been, residents are heaving a huge sigh of relief.
Faced on the one hand with a massive overdevelopment on the Desane site – which would almost certainly be followed by similar massive high rise structures right along Lilyfield Road, had the earlier decision stood, or on the other hand finally getting the long campaigned for park – clearly the choice was a no brainer.
Sure the park will be toxic and the sight of parents and kids running around wearing gas masks and respirators will probably be the norm, but it would still be an area of green in a part of Sydney that has been starved of open space for well over a century.
However three massive unfiltered exhaust stacks will dominate the park and no doubt consume a fair chunk of the footprint of the 13 hectares. Just to give you an idea of how dominating one of these structures will be, check out the monster that is being built opposite Bunnings at Ashfield!
From a wider perspective however the news is not so good. It means that the compulsory acquisitions still stand for homes taken at as little as 60 cents in the dollar, whether they were actually needed for the construction or not.
The SMC heavies in suits, accompanied by burly security guards may well continue to knock on doors and issue compulsory notices.
Residents who object to being evicted will still be jailed, as was the case of a resident who refused to leave his family home. I sat in Newtown Court where the defendant gave his evidence via a video link from Silverwater jail having just spent a week in custody.
He was only released on condition that he agree not to try to re-enter his former home.
Compulsory acquisition notices have been issued to the residents on the western side of Victoria Road. Liquorland has gone and many of the properties are empty awaiting the next swathe of destruction. This will be for the Iron Cove Tunnel which will make access to the Iron Cove Bridge nigh on impossible.
The homes have been taken for site offices and the entire area will no doubt be given over to high rise once the tunnel has been built. The madness doesn’t end there.
The Balmain Leagues Club site at the corner of Victoria Road and Darling Street has been approved as a dive site for the Western Harbour Tunnel. It’s difficult to conceive of a worse possible location with hundreds of double B’s a day looking to enter the bumper to bumper morning and evening Victoria Road log jam.
The tiny park at the end of Louisa Road in Birchgrove will definitely be taken from the community and used as a construction site for the WHT.
Structural damage to adjacent residences due to drilling and blasting is a certainty.
The concrete batching plant, the tunnel casting compound and the materials handling yards at White Bay foreshore operating 24/7, the estimated thousands of heavy truck movements along Victoria Road and through White Bay, paint a sorry picture…
The following quote is replete with a biting irony, especially so if you recognise the author:
‘I do not believe that the real life of this nation is to be found either in great luxury hotels and the petty gossip of so-called fashionable suburbs, or in the officialdom of organised masses.
It is to be found in the homes of people who are nameless and unadvertised, and who, whatever their individual religious conviction or dogma, see in their children their greatest contribution to the immortality of their race.
The home is the foundation of sanity and sobriety; it is the indispensable condition of continuity; its health determines the health of society as a whole.
The material home represents the concrete expression of the habits of frugality and saving “for a home of our own”.
One of the best instincts in us is that which induces us to have one little piece of earth with a house and a garden which is ours: to which we can withdraw, in which we can be among our friends, into which no stranger may come against our will.
This leads on to the conclusion that he who seeks to violate that law must be repelled and defeated.’
Recognise the author? One who is held in high esteem by Glad the Impaler and her band of likeminded apparatchiks?
Robert Gordon Menzies. Post-war Liberal Prime Minister. Now deceased.
‘He who seeks to violate that law must be repelled and defeated’.
Take heed Glad. We’re coming for you!