14.0 Objection to the destruction of Sydney’s heritage

WAG objects to large-scale destruction of heritage areas and buildings cited in the New M5 EIS that WestConnex, including the New M5, will cause. Given the disastrous heritage impacts of the proposed M4 East on Haberfield, the heritage aspects of this project have been to some extent overlooked.

WestConnex will negatively impact on some of Sydney’s most important heritage sites, which are zoned as Heritage Conservation Areas by the NSW Government and are significant not only to local communities but to all Australians.  Many homes and heritage items are slated for demolition in Ashfield and Haberfield as part of WestConnex Stage 1 and the heritage suburbs of Newtown, St. Peters and Enmore will all be hugely impacted by Stage 2 of the proposed project.

One only has to read the Heritage study to understand the significant loss of history. This is valued by residents who in 2015 organised a history walk. At this walk Nadia Wheatley spoke of the importance of a sense of history and place and of its importance for community links.

Destruction of heritage for the New M5 if built

We endorse the submission of Sarah and Bruce Lay, long term residents. Bruce Lay is an extremely experienced planner and heritage architect.

He raises the important issue of the failure to consider the cumulative heritage should the Stage 3 ever occur. Litlte information has been given about this project which would apparently tunnel under King Street. He notes:

The WestConnex proposal is a fragment of the whole, a work in progress, and all will not be done/revealed before critical and likely damaging and hugely costly decisions are made. The M5 connection back to Parramatta Road so vital to Newtown’s fate is not revealed or costed. It will inevitably damage the south end of King Street and many other areas along its route. The 8 kilometres of King Street/Enmore Road is the most important and fine inner city commercial streetscape in the City, of State and National significance. The whole is thus in Heritage Conservation Areas in Marrickville and the City of Sydney. It also includes a large collection of individual Heritage Items, including many at the St Peter’s end, within the viewshed/curtilage of the St Peters interchange. and its future un-designed connections.

He continues,

The St Peters Brickworks themselves are a major landmark in this area enfolded by the now fine new land and waterscape of Sydney Park. The whole is a composite of State significance given the importance of the brickmaking here in terms of building Sydney from about 1880 until the mid-twentieth century, when development of the inner western suburbs was nearly complete. This whole precinct deserves respect, not being carved up and marooned by major roads with limited connections for pedestrian and cycle access. Needless to say many groups of buildings remain to this context along the Princes Highway to Canal Road & Campbell Streets.

These buildings and streetscapes tie this precinct in its setting, its social context and history. There is evident scope to recover its urban context and grain, not to destroy it further.

Not just the ‘Bedford Brickworks’ the whole area to the eastern side of the Princes Highway south to Canal Road became a major brickmaking and industrial area for building the city of great importance to the history of the city. There were nine brick and tile makers in this stretch, apart from other key industries. Apart from the remains within the park there is important archaeology in this area, now being dug up and carted away without evaluation for expedient reasons. The EIS only examines somewhat loosely the impact on identified heritage and not the uncovered, unexamined evidence of this important history.

Of course the heritage consultant hired to do the EIS does recognise a range of significant  impacts including demolition. The real problem is that nothing can ever be serious enough to warrant interference with the project as desired by its proponents.

The heritage and social and economic impacts are clearly linked and should be evaluated in a cumulative way along with the loss of green space, especially Sydney Park which has been designed to highlight the industrial heritage while enhancing the natural environment.

Concerns raised by National Trust of Australia (NSW)

The National Trust raised a number of concerns abut heritage destruction in its 2014 submission to the M4 East concept design, all of which are relevant to the New M5:

●     Over the past fifteen years the Trust has continued to express concern at the heritage impacts of inner urban motorway proposals and has supported mass transport options such as light and heavy rail in preference to inner urban motorways.

●     While acknowledging that the increased mobility and affluence of our society and an expanding population require much improved transport facilities, the National Trust opposes further motorways being brought into the inner suburbs and central business district if they threaten areas of historical, architectural, scenic and social importance.

●     The National Trust believes that the provisions of public/private partnership agreements for urban motorways should be made public and that such agreements must not contain penalty provisions for compensation payments to a motorway operator if a public transport system competes effectively with the motorway.

●     The National Trust would oppose public/private agreements that disadvantage the public who do not choose to use the toll roads constructed under those agreements and believes that massive expenditure on motorway development will divert much needed public and private investment away from public transport development which can move large numbers of people more effectively and with much less adverse heritage impact.

●     The constant daily movement of large transport trucks severely degrades the urban environment and the National Trust urges that rail transport should be the preferred means for transporting container goods related to Port Botany and Sydney Airport. The Trust would oppose motorway proposals which promote increased large truck movements through urban precincts, particularly those with heritage significance.

●     The National Trust acknowledges that inner city motorway development will be inextricably linked to residential/commercial redevelopment of higher densities in the zones adjoining the

●     motorway and consequently, would oppose such development, or elements of that redevelopment when it: –

○      impacts upon, or degrades the values of adjoining, Heritage Conservation Areas

○      involves the demolition of Listed Heritage Items

○      involves the demolition of places which have been removed from Heritage Lists on non heritage-based grounds

○      involves the demolition of places which, in the Trust’s view are of indisputable heritage significance, but which have been denied statutory heritage recognition.

The National Trust has had a long history and involvement in campaigning with the community to protect inner urban heritage.

In 1972 the National Trust opposed the North-Western and Western Expressways which would have cut a swathe through Glebe, demolishing 800 homes and the property “Lyndhurst”, to the steps of the Sydney Town Hall.

On 26 February, 2014 the Board of the National Trust of Australia adopted a Policy on the Heritage Impacts of Urban Motorways. This Policy built on and reiterated earlier positions and policy statements including:

●     National Trust: Policy Statement on Urban Freeways (1976)

●     National Trust Policy on Urban Freeways (1981)

●     National Trust Discussion Paper: Towards a Transport Policy for the National Trust (1989)

●     National Trust Policy Paper: Transport – The Heritage Implications (1995)

●     Trust Alert: Motorway proposals threaten inner city Urban Conservation Areas (2005)

The National Trust also has an extended policy on the heritage impacts of urban motorways. The following excerpt is taken from the 2014 version of this policy: 

1.    While acknowledging that the increased mobility and affluence of our society and an increasing population require much improved transport facilities, the National Trust will oppose further motorways being brought into the inner suburbs and central business district if they threaten areas of great historical, architectural, scenic and social importance.

2.   The National Trust will oppose the loss of public parklands for inner urban motorway construction, including both permanent loss involved with a motorway route/connection ramps or shorter term alienation during the construction phase.

3.   The National Trust believes that the provisions of public/private partnership agreements for urban motorways should be made public and that such agreements must not contain penalty provisions for compensation payments to a motorway operator if a public transport system competes effectively with the motorway.

4.   The National Trust would oppose public/private agreements that disadvantage the public who do not choose to use the toll roads constructed under those agreements.

5.   The National Trust believes that massive expenditure on motorway development will divert much needed public and private investment away from public transport development which can move large numbers of people more effectively and with much less adverse heritage impact.

6.   The National Trust believes that the constant daily movement of large transport trucks severely degrades the urban environment and will urge that rail transport should be the preferred means for transporting container goods related to Port Botany and Sydney Airport. The Trust would oppose motorway proposals, which promote increased large truck movements through urban precincts, particularly those with heritage significance.

7.   The National Trust acknowledges that inner city motorway development will be inextricably linked to residential/commercial redevelopment of higher densities in the zones adjoining the motorway and consequently would oppose such development or elements of that redevelopment when it:

●     impacts upon or degrades the values of adjoining Heritage Conservation Areas,

●     involves the demolition of Listed Heritage Items,

●     involves the demolition of places which have been removed from Heritage Lists on non heritage- based grounds,

●     involves the demolition of places which, in the Trust’s view are of indisputable heritage significance but which have been denied statutory heritage recognition.

The National Trust’s view is that the heritage impacts of the WestConnex Motorway are severe. WAG agrees with this assessment.

We note that The National Trust also questioned whether the financial commitment for the total project, which are now slated at $16.8 billion and inevitably set to rise, would be much better allocated to public transport, which in all its forms (heavy rail, light rail and buses) has much greater potential to remove motor vehicles from roadways, reducing traffic congestion. WAG agrees with this assessment.

14.3 Conclusion

WAG formally and strongly objects to large-scale destruction of heritage areas and buildings cited in the New M5 EIS that WestConnex, including the New M5, will cause.

WAG also formally and strongly objects to the destruction of Sydney’s overall heritage that will be caused by WestConnex, including the New M5, if it is built.

We ask the Minister for Planning to reject the WestConnex New M5 project.

 


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