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North Eveleigh Site and City Relief Line

The announcement by Transport NSW (TNSW) on 29 August 2010 that they will not require private property in and around Leamington Avenue is a welcome relief but the statement does not clarify the situation for the adjoining North Eveleigh site writes Geoff Turnbull from REDWatch on 31 August 2010.

One of the main concerns with TNSW redoing all their planning for the relief line at Eveleigh is the potential impact of the construction of the dive on the Heritage CarriageWorks and Paint Shop buildings. While the alignment was reserved for this entrance in the North Eveleigh Concept Plan there is concern that the tunnel construction immediately behind the CarriageWorks will result in damage to fabric of the CarriageWorks building which is currently used by Arts NSW.

REDWatch has put these concerns to TNSW and their statement in response below throws no light on what impact the dive might have. Nor does it confirm if the Concept Plan alignment is still to be used. The 23 August 2010 TNSW response to REDWatch says:

Transport NSW will continue to study the preferred alignment for Western Express in the Eveleigh area. The studies now underway supersede all previous studies. All previous studies are regarded as background reference material.

The Redfern Waterloo Authority concept plan allowed for a rail corridor along the southern boundary of the CarriageWorks building. The Paint Shops building is slightly narrower than the CarriageWorks building, and is therefore further away from the proposed rail corridor.

No decision as to the alignment in the Eveleigh rail yards area has yet been made.

There will be extensive community consultation before any final decisions are made on the alignment, as part of the Environmental Assessment process.

The second area that REDWatch is concerned about is how much of the North Eveleigh site will be required for construction and what impact this will have on the sale of the Concept Planned North Eveleigh site.

Apart from a strip along the railway corridor the North Eveleigh Concept Plan only made provision for a small area in the south west corner of the site for railway purposes. It is likely that a greater area will be required during tunnel construction.

This uncertainty is likely to delay the sale of the North Eveleigh site. The Minister’s statement on 29 August 2010 does not have information about what is proposed being made public until an Preliminary Environmental Assessment in mid-2011 with final approval mid-2012. Is it now proposed that this site will sit vacant until the City Relief line is approved?

The relevant text from the Minister’s statement Western Express - Leamington Ave Properties is as follows:

Transport NSW will now carry out further alignment investigations for the new underground City Relief Line. This will include design, engineering, survey and geotechnical drilling work in the Eveleigh area.

“I’ve asked Transport NSW to come up with an option that focuses on using publicly owned land at Eveleigh for the dive tunnels as part of the relief line,” Mr Robertson said. “This detailed design work is likely to take some months.

“Once a preferred alignment has been identified it will be incorporated into a project application and Environmental Assessment for the Western Express Project.”

A Preliminary Environmental Assessment into the project would be placed on public exhibition in mid 2011, with the full Environmental Assessment displayed in mid 2012 - in line with the project timetable outlined in the Government’s Metropolitan Transport Plan.

Sydney University has expressed interest in purchasing the North Eveleigh site which is also planned to include affordable housing. REDWatch has been supportive of such a sale and wrote to various ministers and local members in May 2010 Regarding Sydney University & North Eveleigh.

The state government have seemed reluctant to sell the site to Sydney University and REDWatch’s fear is that the uncertainty from the City Relief Line planning will be used to further delay a decision on the sale of the site to Sydney University.

Some of these issues regarding the City Relief Line and North Eveleigh were taken up in the 31 August 2010 Sydney Morning Herald article Tunnel vision now affects arts precinct.

-          Geoffrey Turnbull REDWatch Spokesperson 31 August 2010.