Inner West Independent

Glebe Island Expo to become a “white elephant”

An artist's impression of Glebe Island Expo / Photo:

Leichhardt councillors have stepped up their campaign against the State Government’s decision to approve the Glebe Island Expo development.

Mayor Darcy Byrne condemned the move by the NSW Department for Planning and Infrastructure, arguing the plan is impractical.

“The government has stubbornly refused to consider improving access to the [Glebe Island] Exhibition Centre and is eliminating more parking for local businesses,” he said.

“Common sense tells you that an exhibition centre that is completely inaccessible to pedestrians won’t work. This short-sighted approach to transport could well deliver a white elephant instead of an expo.”

Leichhardt Greens Councillor Daniel Kogoy said commuters had failed to be accounted into the planning process.

“This is further poor planning by the State Government. It needs to start listening to residents, transport and planning experts who have been calling for this significant heritage bridge to be permanently reopened as a strategic pedestrian, bicycle and light rail link between the Balmain peninsula and the city,” he said.

“Our community is fed up with these ad hoc planning decisions being imposed on us in the Bays Precinct by the State Government. The decision not to reopen the bridge to pedestrians, cyclists and light rail puts a big question mark over the economic viability of the project.

“People just aren’t going to visit that site without quality active and public transport links.”

Council submitted an independent expert report to NSW Planning on March 13, calling for a number of changes to improve the project and lessen its negative impacts.

The recommendations included the reopening of the Glebe Island Bridge to pedestrians, cyclists and possibly light rail to make the expo centre accessible from the city while creating a new transport corridor. A spokesperson from the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure said pedestrian access is not a possiblity due to “safety and security reasons”.

“For public events, the proponent is required to look at opportunities to collect and transport pedestrians to the site from designated areas on Robert Street and James Craig Road,” said the spokesperson. “This means that if visitors do not have a ticket in advance for a public event, pedestrian access will be available to the location of the designated shuttle bus stop.”

The State Government will move the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre to Glebe Island for three years from late 2013 to 2016 while a new venue is constructed at Darling Harbour.