By ALLISON HORE
The Inner West Council has won big in a compensation claim against Transport for NSW.
The council and the local community will receive a $2.875 million pay out from Transport for NSW for the compulsory acquisition of 2,285sqm of land at King George Park in January this year. The land in the popular foreshore park was to be used for a bioretention facility and informal carpark for the WestConnex M4-M5 Link project.
The M4-M5 Link Tunnel is the third stage of the controversial WestConnex project.
On top of the compensation, the council negotiated with Transport for NSW for 72% of the acquired land to be returned to council by December 2025. As part of the deal, Transport for NSW will also be footing the bill for returning the land to its pre-acquisition condition.
“We’ve fought hard to win compensation for the community and this funding will go straight back into the neighbourhood,” said Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne.
The Inner West local government area has one of the lowest proportions of public open space per person in Sydney. According to data from the NSW Office of Local Government, the Inner West local government area is second only to Burwood, with more than 700 people per hectare of public open space.
King George Park is one of the Inner West’s most popular sporting grounds, and is home to a number of local soccer, athletics and rugby clubs. It also makes up part of the Bay Run precinct and is a popular sport for dog walkers.
The areas that will be affected by the construction will include the northern part of the park on the corner of Victoria Road and Byrnes Street as well as the informal parking area for the oval off Manning Street. None of the King George oval will be lost for the project.
Throughout the litigation process, the Inner West Council say they argued the compensation for the acquisition and the damages should reflect the value of the land to the community rather than the “nominal” amount Transport for NSW’s experts recommended.
“The impacts from WestConnex on residents around King George Park have been horrendous, so improving their quality of life is the priority now” Mr. Byrne said.
Mayor Byrne says projects the money said the money would go towards projects including improving the amenity of local streets, improvements to the park and safety measures for those travelling to Rozelle Public School. He also said he is “keen to” meet with local sporting groups to discuss how the funding can be used to improve the sports grounds and facilities.
“I am determined that the funding will go straight back into the neighbourhood around the park that has been so horrendously affected by WestConnex construction,” he said.
The Inner West council is encouraging local people to report any issues they have with the WestConnex construction through their website, all reports are required to be investigated.