Inner West Independent

Bays Precinct developments could signal the end of the West Metro

The Bays Precinct. Photo: Glebe Society

By Elliott Brennan

A spokesperson for the Rozelle Residents Action Group (RRAG) has raised questions about the possible future of a CBD Metro link with the Western suburbs. The concerns come in light of the extensive redevelopment of the Bays Precinct area that will include the Rozelle rail yards.

Plans for a West Metro failed in 2010, but in cancelling the project, then Premier Kristina Keneally said she still saw a metro as part of Sydney’s future.

In both the final draft and all those that came before, the Rozelle Rail yards were intended to integrally serve the Metro as the main interchange, and the holding and service yards for the Metro trains.

Following the 2010 setback, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) continued to actively protect the theoretical corridor that the Metro would follow underneath Victoria Road.

In a letter obtained by City Hub dated June 2012, TfNSW rejected one of the Rozelle village plans almost exclusively on the grounds that they were protecting the corridor, and more specifically the foreseen use of Rozelle station.

“Encroachment of the proposed building basement excavation within the Zone of Influence is expected to be of a high risk to the potential future Rozelle Metro Station,” the letter read.

“Landowners would need to enter in to a deed agreement with TfNSW. The deed would ensure that the ability for the future Metro to be developed would not be compromised.”

In addition to this evidence of active protection from TfNSW, the corridor remains in The State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 legislation, specifically mentioned in clauses 88A-88C.

In dialogue with a lawyer specialising in infrastructure planning, City Hub was told that the removal of any rail corridors from protection would simultaneously see them removed from legislation, meaning that the CBD metro is theoretically still alive.

This future became questionable with the publication of The Bays Precinct Taskforce, which identified the strategic value of the rail yards for the easing of congestion problems that would come with the Bays Precinct developments.

“Making this public domain area safer and more accessible is reliant on the delivery of the proposed new port access road via Rozelle Rail Yards, which has the support of all task members,” the report read.

The Rozelle Residents Action Group spokesperson said the construction of this road would make redundant the legislation and the years of protection TfNSW has given the corridor.

“Developing the land would definitely put an end to any plans for a metro. That is unless they were able to find an alternate site for their holding yard,” the spokesperson said.

In support of this claim, section 45 of The State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 outlines the restrictions and risk factors when building within 2 metres above the caverns needed for an underground rail system, specifically in regards to the electrical networks that come with rail works.

As Glebe Island and White Bay are still operational ports, infrastructure for the transport of heavy freight such as cement would need to be provided by the access road, meaning that the road would need to be reinforced and would probably have an adverse effect the feasibility of a Metro.

A spokesperson for TfNSW did not address any questions regarding the CBD Metro corridor or the proposed access road through the rail yard, but did reveal that they would be used as a depot for the new CBD and South East Light Rail extensions.

“The depot will provide facilities for the maintenance of light rail vehicles,” the TfNSW spokesperson said.

Additionally with the Bays Precinct and Rozelle train yards representing the last large tracts of unused land close to the CBD, it is difficult to ascertain where an alternate site could be located.

Despite the Rozelle Residents Action group having been one of the Metros’ most vocal opponents, the spokesperson said that if the corridor is redundant, it would represent the loss of “a great opportunity for the city of Sydney”.

“Had the plans extended all the way to Parramatta, then we couldn’t have argued with the need for such a system. It wasn’t going to service a need if it only went to Rozelle; it simply wasn’t enough to justify the cost or the inconvenience,” the spokesperson said.

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