BY LANI OATAWAY
Inner West residents fear their suburb won’t cope under development plans linked with Sydney’s new Southwest Metro railway scheme.
The NSW Government’s Corridor Strategy has slated up to eight storey development projects to be built in Dulwich Hill.
Resident and member of the community run Save Dully Action Group Angel Ioannou said “Our infrastructure is already stretched thin… there are not enough resources for the influx of people coming.”
The Department of Planning and Environment’s twenty-year scheme promises an increase in local jobs, affordable housing and a boost in the streetscape’s character.
A Department of Planning and Environment Spokesperson said the strategy aims to harness the success of the Sydney Metro to improve communities.
But resident and member of the Save Dully Action Group Karen Campbell says this plan will backfire under explosive population growth.
“There are not enough jobs here to sustain more people. No local workplace hubs are being created, which puts stress on the [railway] corridor ‘conga-line’ into the city,” Ms Campbell said.
The NSW Government’s scheme ignores vital services desperately needing improvement to compensate for this rise in population.
Mr Ioannou said “Schools are bursting, and there is hardly enough childcare. One childcare centre charges $100 to be on the waiting list.”
Deputy Minister of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Michael Daley said “It beggars belief that Mike Baird is happy to shove thousands of additional residents into an area without proper planning for the pressure additional population puts on schools and hospitals.”
But the Department Spokesperson defends the project’s research, claiming “The NSW Government is investigating a Special Infrastructure Contribution to help pay for infrastructure like schools, open space and road upgrades to support the new communities.”
The proposed areas marked for redevelopment bulldoze iconic local landmarks including Federation era houses and historic churches.
The Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Unmercenaries was hand built by Dulwich Hill’s Greek community forty years ago, and is drafted in an eight storey development zone.
Although the congregation refuses to accept developer’s payments, they are anxious overdevelopment will suffocate the Church.
A member of the congregation said “The Church is going to stay. But how will it stay here surrounded with units? I don’t agree with development here, they’re only thinking about themselves and profits. Already you can’t find parking here, it’s all full… There’s no infrastructure.”
Other early 20th Century landmarks including Dulwich Hill Uniting Church, Baptist Church, a former maternity hospital and an early MP’s Californian Bungalow are all under threat from the government’s proposal.
Residents are criticising the Department’s planning as rushed and poorly designed, condemning the approach as severely lacking in clarity and engagement.
Ms Campbell said “There must be transparency. The development must be sympathetic and well planned with an overall rationale that people can get involved in.”
Mr Daley MP sees this experience as characteristic of the Baird Government, insisting “Without a doubt, locals are the experts in their area and the Government actually needs to start listening to their concerns.”
The Department defends their consultation process, numbering six drop in community visits and a tour of Dulwich Hill led by members of the Save Dully Action Group.
“A revised draft strategy and heritage reports will be released for community feedback in the near future, with locals encouraged to have their say,” said the Department Spokesperson.
The Greater Sydney Commission will release District Plans on the 21st of November, aimed at synchronising state plans with local governments.
The strategy will primarily tackle the issue of affordable housing for the corridor’s growing population, a key concern for the Dulwich Hill community.
Residents hope these future plans will provide clarity to many unanswered questions.