What it's like to live next to a WestCONnex construction site

Arron Fletcher's Haberfield home is right next to a planned entry/exit portal and pollution stack for WestCONnex, and he and his young family wake up every morning to the sounds, sights and smells of heavy construction. After he posted a video of this on Twitter, we asked if we could share it here. He not only agreed, but also wrote about what it's like to live like this, knowing WestCONnex is doomed to fail.

We've only been living here for a little over a year, but the sheer scale and speed of the WestCONnex project really took us by surprise. We only found out that the construction was happening across the road by chance from talking to the neighbours while our children were playing.

We only receive unfolded and unenveloped A4 letters in our letterbox about the various works that are going on around us as a result of this poorly planned fiasco. I have a stack of nearly a dozen of these letters under magnets on our fridge. We have become numbed to it - it's just so depressing to come home to these letters every few days.

When I saw the sound wall going up on one side of the construction site between Wolseley and Wattle Streets, I optimistically assumed they'd also put one up on our side. But no. We have a clear unfiltered industrial construction zone next door to our home with nothing in between but chicken wire fencing covered in SMC's thin layer of cloth propaganda about how this project will "build communities", "reduce the number of traffic lights", and most laughably "create jobs" - the catchcry excuse for bad industries since the dawn of human history.

We are a family of four, with two primary school-aged girls. Here are some of the ways we are directly affected:
  • The noise begins at pretty much 7am on the dot every weekday and Saturday.
  • The noise continues into the afternoon and of course is a massive discouragement for my daughters to play outside in our yard in the afternoons after school.
  • Our house has been covered in an unusually large amount of dust both inside and out.
  • My wife already suffers from anxiety and is also extra-sensitive to strong smells thanks to migraine headaches - both of these conditions have had a massive resurgence since construction began. She is home most days, but since the noise began she is finding it difficult to stay home, which of course makes normal home duties massively difficult to keep up with.
  • Various trucks and utes have been parked in our streets despite compliance stating that are not supposed to.
  • The last week has seen sewerage works that bring the noise and utes and workman practically right up to our fence - as you'll see in the video above.
When protestors were on the roof next door and I was interviewed by Channel 7 about it, Steve Betteridge, the project manager, and his lead engineer came up to me and told me that if I have any issues, I should contact him personally via the hotline. When the multi-storey drill started operating every morning only a few metres from our dining room where we have breakfast, I tried to take Steve up on his offer and called to ask why a sound wall was not constructed on our side of the site. I spoke to two different people: the first point of call hotline operator took notes and transferred me to some PR person, who in turned told me that they would pass on my concerns and have Steve call me back that morning. No surprises, but I did not receive a call.

We are getting absolutely nothing out of any of this. The road will be too expensive to use; we get no compensation for all of this damage and inconvenience to my family; my rent remains the same as it was when we moved in, complete with its premium for the lovely big backyard and quiet streets (Parramatta Road hoons aside). I seriously doubt our landlord could get another family in here for the same rent, despite him telling us otherwise. But for now, relocating my family after only being here for a year is actually still too much to bear - despite such a move now being well and truly on the cards.
P.S.: I also cycle to work and am appalled at the further destruction of local parks and the felling of so many trees along City West Link. It's another really depressing start to my work day to be witnessing this happen for literally no good reason.






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