City Hub

Businesses clash over construction

BY LUCAS BAIRD

As the light rail construction moves to the next stage on George Street, business owners have claimed they are feeling burdened.

City of Sydney Councillor and George Street cafe owner, Angela Vithoulkas, told City Hub that foot traffic had diminished on George Street in peak times.

“Many businesses including mine that survive from peak time traffic have been severely impacted,” Clr Vithoulkas said.

“There has been no real or solid measure to counteract that impact.”

Clr Vithoulkas sits on the Business Reference Group for the construction, and said that many of her complaints had been ignored.

Business owners at the other end of the light rail line aren’t happy either. In Randwick Council, Richard Walsh the owner of Walsh’s Pharmacy, told City Hub that the removal of all parking on Anzac Parade along with mass tree removal would “negatively affect the culture of the area”.

“Around 750 parking spaces will be removed from Kensington, Kingsford and Randwick. That must negatively affect trade in the area.,” Mr Walsh said.

However, the Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, Patricia Forsythe, has urged local businesses not to worry about light rail construction in their area.

Ms Forsythe told City Hub that Transport for NSW was constructing the light rail in the least disruptive way possible.

“They have looked at how it has been done in other cities, in other countries; what is being done in Sydney is the world’s best practice,” Ms Forsythe said. “There is a serious attempt to work with business, not make it difficult for business.”

A spokesperson for Transport for NSW told City Hub that the construction zones and work has been “staggered to minimise the impact of construction on those who live, work or do business along the road”.

Chairperson of The Spot Business Association, Janet Alexander, said that while improved traffic infrastructure was necessary, there needed to be more consideration of business concerns.

“A bit more tolerance on both sides would be really good, especially from Transport for NSW, who need to understand some of the concerns the small business owners have at the moment,” Ms Alexander said.