City News

Park saved, community rejoices

Coogee MP Bruce Notley Smith with Randwick Mayor Ted Seng and Transport Minister Andrew Constance. Source: Randwick council (supplied)

The political and community campaigners who fought to save High Cross Park in Randwick from light rail destruction got their wish late last week.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced on Thursday September 17 that the light rail terminal previously planned for the park would now be in a new High Street Plaza, saving numerous trees and a war memorial.

Liberal Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith had campaigned consistently for the change, and told City Hub he was “ecstatic” about the minister’s decision.

“I never believed that locating the terminus at High Cross Park was a good idea. It’s an iconic little park, it’s treasured by the locals,” Mr Notley-Smith said.

“It’s been a stressful couple of years trying to get this outcome, so I’m very, very stoked with the way it’s gone,” he said.

Mr Notley-Smith and Randwick City Council had worked together to propose the High Street Plaza alternative, which will be at the intersection of High Street, Avoca Street and Belmore Road.

However, Greens Randwick Councillor Murray Matson said it was mainly community and council hard work that had salvaged the park.

“The story of the saving of High Cross Park is one of an organised community campaign underpinning its local council putting money and resources into working positively with the state government,” Clr Matson said.

Clr Matson commended councillors Lindsay Shurey and Scott Nash on their successful motion to fund a proposal for an alternative site.

Liberal Councillor Harry Stavrinos said the move was a victory for the “three c’s- common sense, the community and the council”.

Clr Stavrinos told City Hub that preserving green space was important, and that this change was cost effective.

“The project will be saving $25 million, so not only financially is it a benefit, it’s socially a benefit,” he said.

Mr Notley-Smith said that the park was important, and that he was “pleased to have played a role” in preserving the environment.

However, while community members praised the decision on Facebook, several said that more work was needed to preserve the other significant trees marked for removal.

One Facebook user, John Reid, said Mr Notley-Smith needed to stop the “removal of the magnificent Moreton Bay Figs along Anzac Parade”.

Spokesperson for community group Keeping Randwick’s Trees, Rickie-Lee McLaurin-Smith, told City Hub that while the decision was a win, the stakeholders needed to push for more environmental protection in the light rail plans.

“We should celebrate this great start in the right direction,” she said.

“[But] we’re looking forward to having our local member and council continue to advocate for the hundreds of heritage trees along the route that remain threatened.”