The Randwick leg of the recently approved Sydney CBD and South-East Light Rail (CSELR) has been heavily criticised by community groups and local politicians.
Tensions between Randwick City Council and Transport for NSW (TfNSW) culminated in council’s rejection of the development agreement with TfNSW on June 24.
The resolution summarily rejected the development agreement due to ongoing concerns with the controversial High Cross Park interchange, parking loss, tree loss and a lack of transparency to bus timetable alterations.
“Keeping Sydney ‘Open for Business’ during construction of light rail is a priority for the Government and we will continue to work collaboratively with councils, businesses and local communities to deliver the project successfully,” said a spokesperson for TfNSW.
Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey has put forward a motion seeking state government assistance to buy properties in either High Street or Avoca Street as alternative sites for the High Cross Park bus/light rail interchange.
Cr Shurey says that the Greens want to work with the Government to achieve a “first class public transport improvement via CSELR light rail” but that using High Cross Park land was “not necessary and should be avoided”.
“All Randwick Councillors want to keep High Cross Park available to the public as open space and as heritage use,” said Cr Shurey.
Outside of the council resolution sits a possible confrontation over the transfer of a Rainbow St site to council for parking purposes.
Greens Councillor Murray Matson is supportive of the CSELR project, yet opposes the government auctioning the site.
“The Market site land issue is particularly painful given that the Government may force Randwick Council to bid at auction. This unsympathetic disregard for the local area’s parking needs is not reasonable nor helpful,” said Cr Matson.
A June 16 email from TfNSW to council confirmed that it has no current intention to put the site up for a competitive tender process. No agreement has been reached between the two parties yet, and the sale or transfer of the land to council is still uncertain.
Randwick community group Save Randwick’s Environment & Heritage With Improved Light Rail Design met earlier this month with Coogee State MP Bruce Notley-Smith.
Mr. Smith made it clear that despite the estimated loss of 760 trees along the entire CSELR route, TfNSW did not want to remove any trees unless it was absolutely necessary. In spite of this, “no specific guarantees can be given regarding which trees can be saved from removal because detailed design had not been accomplished”.
The dispute surrounding the Randwick leg of the CSELR has been complemented by a perceived lack of transparency in the CBD community forum run by TfNSW.
Community group People United for Surry Hills attended the CBD forum and complained that it was unsuccessful.
“The CBD forum was a similar display to the Surry Hills forum where little or no information was forthcoming. These sessions are window dressing to tick the community consultation boxes on their project schedule,” they said.
TfNSW refuted these claims by pointing to wide support for the business forums.
“The forums provide businesses with the opportunity to provide feedback about delivery of the project and work with the project team on measures to minimise impacts during construction.”
TfNSW are yet to propose another development agreement with Randwick Council.