“Without the metro station, there’s no way of getting to whatever they’re putting there,” said Duncan MacAuslan, the president of local residents’ group the Balmain Association. “At the moment there’s a large hole in the ground next to a large empty building.”
The western part of the Bays precinct, along the shores of Rozelle Bay and eastern Balmain peninsula, is subject to a masterplan that allocates large spaces for urban development and parks, but as yet carries little detail beyond an area immediately alongside Victoria Road.
“At this stage in the Bays precinct, they’re putting the transport ahead of the urban development,” Clifton said.
“It’s usually the other way around. So, I think it’s great that for once they’re putting the transport in before they think of anything else,” he said. “It might mean the metro station there is a bit of a white elephant until the rest of the development takes place, but that’s not really a problem. It would be much more expensive to retrofit a station into the area afterwards.”
Along the metro route, high-rise buildings are planned directly above the stations at Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, Pyrmont and Hunter Street in the CBD, and major high-density developments are proposed adjacent to stations at Westmead, Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, Burwood North and White Bay.
In some areas, planning rules that permit high-density residential development have already been approved or are under way. Burwood Council has adopted a plan that would see part of its affordable housing strategy contingent on new developments at its proposed metro site near Parramatta Road.
The Property Council of Australia warned of a hit to business confidence caused by the uncertainty now clouding the metro line.
“Delay would not just be disruptive of the capacity of the city to grow, it would be really disruptive to the proper function of Parramatta CBD, which has several blocks levelled at the moment,” said Ross Grove, the property lobby group’s western Sydney regional director.
“You wouldn’t want to see those timelines extended even further into the future.”
The Urban Taskforce Australia chief executive, Tom Forrest, said he hoped the review would provide opportunities for the government to introduce further stations in sites such as Camellia, the heavily-polluted locality east of the Parramatta CBD he described as “ripe for clean-up and renewal”.
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