WestCONnex gift to Beverly Hills – lower noise walls and traffic congestion

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment received more than 12,000 submissions from members of the the public and community organisations in response to the WestCONnex New M5 tollway proposal. 99.91% of these submissions objected to the project. The People’s M5 EIS team could only find one submission that supported the project.  Ten submissions  raised concerns rather than outright objecting to the New M5.

Hundreds of residents living in the Kingsgrove and Beverly Hills area were among those opposed to the project.

Many of these residents have been living near the old M5 for 15 years. They know from experience that living near a motorway is nothing like the glossy images produced by the WestCONnex graphics team. If the New M5 goes ahead, 0thers would live close to a new unfiltered ventilation stack and tunnel opening proposed at Kingsgrove; or near the Beverly Grove Park that is going to be carved up by WestCONnex, along with most of a critically endangered remnant of Cooks River Ironbark Forest.

There are many more residents living along Stoney Creek, Forest and Bexley Roads who don’t know yet that if the new tollway goes ahead the plan is for their environment to be more congested and more polluted. This is documented in AECOM’s New M5 EIS although most residents have not yet been informed of these impacts. ( We will come back to this in a later post.)

What most people don’t know is that WestCONnex has already been given approval by the NSW Baird government to begin widening the intersection at King Georges Road and the existing M5. This project, which is known as the King Georges Interchange Upgrade, is massively disrupting the lives of residents, some of whom have watched with dismay as vegetation and parks that slowly grew after the M5 sliced up their neighbourhood are torn down by WestCONnex.

The King Georges Interchange project doesn’t make the WestCONnex’s Stage 2 New M5 tunnel inevitable but what it does do is provide an excellent place to start if you want to understand some of the key arguments against the WestCONnex. It  also provides a strong warning against trusting promises by Sydney Motorway Corporation (WestCONnex) or the Department of Planning of future mitigation of the worst impacts of motorways.

NSW Premier Mike Baird recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that some “displacement” and “loss of green space” is an unfortunate consequence of building  ‘infrastructure” to cater for future growth …otherwise the city will come to a halt.”

The problem with Baird’s argument is that there is lots of evidence that the WestCONnex won’t solve traffic congestion. Yes, residents would suffer both during the construction and operation of WestCONnex, but no, traffic congestion will not be solved. In some suburbs it will be worse.

You will notice that Baird also made no mention of the consequences of increased air pollution and noise for those living near congested roads. Continue reading

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Saving Newtown from Westconnex

One of Sydney’s best known and loved precincts is King Street. It’s a busy street and is already a clearway in the morning and evening peaks. The traffic does not move fast during day but that makes it tolerable for pedestrians. The fear is that all the thousands of extra trucks and cars that would flow into Inner West roads from the New M5 massive St Peters Interchange will wreck it as a place where people can work, shop and enjoy themselves.  At any time, the far too powerful Roads and Maritime Services Department could declare it a 24 hour clear way.

The Minister for Roads Duncan Gay doesn’t much like King street or the people who campaign to save it. But he has recently come to understand the strength of opposition in the community. He says the community should trust him when he says it will not become a clearway.  Somehow he expects us not to realise that in a few years, he will have retired from NSW political life. In any case, the EIS for the New M5 provides convincing evidence that guarantees given at the time of construction come to mean nothing. If the New M5 goes ahead residents down at Kingsgrove are losing conditions for Parks and preservation of bushland that were imposed when the old M5 was built.

“Small independent retailers are the shops that bring colour and originality to an area and make it a desirable place to be. We suffer most from clearways already and rely on our weekend trade to survive. More clearways would spell the end for us, and a slow creep to the destruction of the entire precinct.” Celia Morris, Owner, Dragstar and Shorties, King St Newtown

The New M5 EIS does briefly acknowledge the value of the street life of King Street. Despite this, the EIS contains no information about what the traffic would be like North of Alice Street which is in South Newtown, nearer the project.  After that point, all modelling ceases. There are a few allusions in the EIS to future plans to steer traffic away from King Street and block the turns from other roads but residents know that all these changes would accomplish is forcing thousands of cars and trucks back into the streets of Alexandria, Enmore and Erskineville which is not acceptable. Anyway, quite a bit of it would inevitably end up in King Street. Continue reading

Janet’s Westconnex Journey – “we’re fighting to save the community we love”

Sydney Park Photo
Janet, Michael and their son, Fred in Sydney Park – 14,000 square metres of which will be taken by WestCONnex. Photo by Martin Brady

( Ed: Janet Dandy-Ward is a founder and key member of the WestCONnex Action Group WAG). She lives in Roberts Street St Peters, a suburb that will be devastated by WestCONnex . She is a friendly and familiar figure in the streets of St Peters, Newtown and in Sydney Park, squeezing the organisation of weekend campaigning stalls  into her busy life.  In this edited version of her submission to the New M5 EIS she describes why she is fighting WestCONnex and her observations of the planning process and impacts the project will have on her community and the rest of Sydney. You can help the WAG campaign by using their site to send your own submission to NSW Planning or go direct to NSW Planning site.  These will be open until midnight Jan. 29.)

My husband and I emigrated to Australia in 2011 (leaving all our family back in the UK) and we moved into this house in Roberts Street deciding that it could be a base whilst we think about what area we might want to move to. We fell in love with the street, our neighbours, our community, the community pre-school and our surrounding green spaces such as Sydney Park, Tilman and Simpson Park – all will be affected by WestCONnex. Incidentally, the neighbour I mention above is like a surrogate grandparent to our son. It is likely that she and her 80 year old husband will move from the street if this project goes ahead.

We have decided that St Peters is where we want to live and have already invested so much in the community – this is something that is worth fighting for; for my family, for our neighbours who are potentially losing their homes due to forced acquisitions, for those older and vulnerable residents who are now feeling uncertain about their future in this and other suburbs. Sydney deserves better.

As a social worker, I have a deep sense of social justice. I believe that this project will not meet its key objectives including reducing traffic congestion. This is a fundamental flaw. The social and environmental impacts briefly described in the EIS are unacceptable and far outweigh any benefits of the project. There are so many aspects of the traffic modelling that as a mum and a full time trainer in a large children’s charity, I have not had time to address in my submission. I have read the research about traffic inducement and I firmly believe that if you build more roads then more traffic will come, I saw this back in the UK with the development of the M25 London Orbital Motorway. Continue reading

Emma’s story : From my backyard to bigger picture

Behind all the masses of technical data, uncertainty and complexity, there are people and communities. Nicole Gooch interviewed Emma Pierce who lives in St Peters, not far from what Westconnex wants to turn into a massive tollway interchange.

Frankie and Thalia, 5, have grown up attending pre-school together. They played in the school playground most days when their older sibings were being picked up from school.The little girls were excited to be starting school together this year but their friendship is just one of many that has been cut short by Westconnex.

Instead, the community of St Peters is being torn apart as families, including Thalia’s , are forced to leave to make way for the Westconnex tollway.

Frankie’s mother, Emma Pierce, is a special education consultant and researcher. The family also have a nine-year-old daughter, and have lived in the same cul de sac for eight years. Emma, eloquent and energetic, says they felt “pretty fortunate” to be living in an “amazing little community”.

But if the Westconnex New M5 goes ahead, their front door will be 200 metres away from a Los Angeles style motorway interchange, and about 150m away from an unfiltered toxic emissions stack near the end of the New M5 tunnel.

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Frankie and Thalia were looking forward to going to school together until Thalia’s famly was forced out of St Peters by Westconnex

Continue reading

Beverly Hills resident rejects WestCONnex impacts on South West Sydney

By Kathy Calman, spokesperson for the Beverly Hills/Kingsgrove WestCONnex Action Group

For those of you who are not familiar with our suburbs, the communities of Beverly Hills, Kingsgrove, Bexley North, Earlwood and Arncliffe lived through years of construction for the first M5 circa 2001, (Legacy M5).

The legacy M5 resulted in a ‘Berlin Wall’ effect that separated our community into two. The North and South sides.  It also had a devastating impact on residents in regards to pollution. Turrella and Earlwood, with an unfiltered exhaust stack, and Bexley North and Arncliffe with tunnel portals (openings).

Homes, the trees and parks taken. Years of construction, and then, to thank us for our endurance, we were handed cheap, visually divisive noise walls and poor urban design.   The urban design and landscaping was of such a poor standard that Allambee Crescent Nth Beverly Hills actually features in the RMS Landscape and Design Principles as an excellent example of what NOT to do.

Allambee Crescent Nth Beverly Hills circa 2015.

Screenshot from the RMS Urban Landscape Design Principles
Screenshot from the RMS Urban Landscape Design Principles
The noise wall is visually divisive and bears no contextual relationship to the setting in this residential area on the Northern side of the M5 East
The noise wall is visually divisive and bears no contextual relationship to the setting in this residential area on the Northern side of the M5 East

It is a credit to Council and a few residents of these communities that they took the repair of our environment into our own hands.  We had no choice because the RMS would not.

“Landscaping” by the Community & Canterbury Council – maturing growth circa 2015.
“Landscaping” by the Community & Canterbury Council – maturing growth circa 2015

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The M5 turned out to be a noisy congested old fashioned solution to traffic congestion. But the NSW government has learned nothing. Again last year we found ourselves faced with new projects.  Firstly there was the expansion of the King Georges Road Interchange and now a duplicate of the old failed M5 – call the New M5

Continue reading

Vol-1A Chapter-07 Consultation

Previous chapter: Vol 1A Chapter 06 Construction work

Vol 1A Chapter 07 Consultation

Pdf: New M5 EIS Vol 1A Chapter 07 Consultation.pdf

Section Pages
7 Consultation 7-1
7.1 Community and stakeholder engagement overview 7-2
7.2 Consultation objectives 7-4
7.3 Consultation process and activities 7-4
7.4 Summary of issues raised 7-22
7.5 Design considerations in response to early feedback 7-62
7.6 Future consultation 7-65

Appendix: Vol 2A App E Draft Community Consultation Framework

Next chapter: Vol 1B Chapter 08 Overview of environmental issues