Local businesses in Rozelle affected by the CBD Metro remain in a state of limbo over the fate of the project, while new Premier Kristina Keneally considers her options regarding the Government’s 2031 Transport Blueprint.
Although the CBD Metro is expected to survive in some form, Ms Keneally has repeatedly refused to rule out cutting the Rozelle leg of the project. In the meantime, however, D-Day edges closer for businesses set to be compulsorily acquired, with affected business receiving letters indicating that writs would be issued in mid-January.
Last week, local Rozelle business representative David Hunt called the letters of intention from Sydney Metro “untimely and inappropriate.”
Mr Hunt is Sales Manager of the Retravision store on Darling Street, a business which is earmarked to make way for the proposed Metro station alongside more than a dozen others.
“You don’t sentence judgement on someone or something until you have read the evidence and passed judgement,” he said. “Sydney Metro feels it is above scrutiny and judgement. I call on the Sydney Metro Authority and the NSW Transport Minister to respect the process of the NSW Department of Planning … by deferring any action against the affected property owners and business sought by the Metro, until after full approval and scrutiny from the Department of Planning.”
Earlier this month, a letter from Balmain MP Verity Firth to Transport Minister David Campbell was leaked to the media. In it, she questioned an integral part of the project – the creation of a bus interchange at Rozelle, an outcome she described as “unacceptable to local residents”. Ms Firth cited local fears that bus services to Balmain would be cut in a bid to force passenger numbers higher on the Metro.
The letter also asked for confirmation that Sydney Metro Authority was not looking to increase density in Rozelle. Critics of the project argue such an assurance would undermine the viability of the project.
But a spokesperson for Ms Firth played down any suggestion the Metro had lost her in-principle backing. “Verity still supports the Metro as part of an integrated public transport system,” he said. “The questions are over how that happens and when that happens.”
A spokesperson for Sydney Metro declined to comment on speculation. “We’re just getting on with the job of completing Stage 1 of the Metro project, as we’ve been tasked to do,” he said.
Spokespeople from various government departments failed to offer an indication as to when a decision on the Transport Blueprint would be announced.