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Learning from our mistakes

Has the NSW Government learnt anything from the Metro debacle? If you ask residents in Leamington Avenue, Pine and Holdsworth streets at Newtown in Sydney's inner west, their answer would be "no" reports Kylie Simmonds on ABC News on 16 July 2010.

They are the ones now suffering emotional and financial hardship as the Government makes up its mind about another new transport project, the City Relief Line.

Thirty-four heritage listed homes are in the way of a 5 km tunnel between Eveleigh and Wynyard.

The new line is an important part of the Government's Western Express project.

It would separate the western services from inner city trains.

Residents say their lives are now in limbo. They cannot plan for their future because their homes may be compulsorily acquired.

Peter Cannon and his partner bought number 17 in Leamington Avenue two-and-a-half years ago.

Their renovation plans have now been put on hold.

Their dream home is just a hole in the ground while they wait for the Government to decide what it wants to do.

"I gave up my permanent job to do this project," Mr Cannon said.

"We can't complete the project, we can't live in it, and we can't rent it out." 

Railcorp knew of renovations

Even worse is the fact Railcorp approved their development application to go ahead with renovations.

Residents say they have evidence which shows Railcorp was aware their homes could be destroyed five years ago.

The 2005 Metropolitan Rail Expansion Program identifies the streets as rail corridors, while in 2007/08, a concept plan to develop the North Eveleigh carriageworks site made detailed provision for the tunnel.

For the past three years, 16 houses have been bought and sold in that area.

Yet no one had any idea they were living on a potential railway line.

"I think they're sort of culpable really," said Mr Cannon.

"We had to get their approval to get the DA they made us jump through hoops" he said.

Other residents have lived in the street all their lives.

One was just about to sell up and has now had to cancel her auction after a drop in buyer interest.

It all sounds too familiar.

Haven't residents and business in Rozelle, Pyrmont and the CBD just been through this?

The State Government is still cleaning up its metro mess and trying to settle compensation claims, yet another David and Goliath battle has begun.

This time though, residents in Newtown will benefit from the past with businesses and residents in the metro's path joining their campaign.

They protested loud and clear until finally they won with the Government cancelling the project.

No doubt we can expect the same community spirit this time.