Posted by & filed under Inner West Independent.

The redevelopment of the Marrickville Metro shopping centre has been debated within the inner west for over 18 months. With both sides strongly represented within the community, businesses in the surrounding areas remain split over the plans and the effect they will have on Marrickville as a whole.

Edward Lancaster manages a bike repairs shop opposite the Metro, and has been following the issue from the off. Even though his business will most certainly be affected by the road closures that will come as a result of the expansion, he believes the positives will outweigh the negatives in the long run. “Right now, Marrickville Metro is an arcade on steroids,” he said. “More needs to be done to keep the people of Marrickville from going to Broadway or Bondi Junction for items they can get in the area.”

But Morris Hanna, owner of Maurice Menswear on Marrickville Road and member of the Marrickville Chamber of Commerce, believes the majority of people are happy with the current centre, adding that adjacent streets are not suited to the variations that are being put forward. “Residents are used to finding a park easily around here, and the streets are narrow enough as it is. There are a lot of people who still very upset about this.”

As a result of the large negative response to its original proposal, AMP Capital was forced to revise its plans regarding the expansion, taking into account the environmental and socio-economic concerns that were raised by citizens of the local area. The upgrade of the centre was reduced by 22 per cent and new plans regarding the redevelopment exhibited to the public.

Anna Koehan, a member of the Metrowatch community watchdog group and local resident, stated that although AMP Capital reduced the size of the changes, they are still not considering the full impact that the new centre will have on surrounding businesses. “The character of the area is still at stake,” she said. “[The current Metro] is convenient the way it is.”

AMP Capital’s Scott Gillespie acknowledged the response among residents affected by the expansion is still “mixed” despite the revisions, but maintains that after 25 years of the same Metro, the majority of locals want more from their local shopping complex. “The retail and service needs of the community have changed and their needs are not being met by the current retail offered within the local Government area,” he said.

It is uncertain as to whether the fate of the project will be impacted by the recent election, with Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard failing to provide a response by the time the Independent went to print.

by Sean Slatter