I tabled this urgency motion on the King Street Gateway Project at our Inner West Council meeting on 9 June 2020, and I'm pleased to say it received unanimous support.
1. Notes with concern the lack of progress that has been made on the King Street Gateway Project, which Transport for NSW is required to build in order to protect King Street Newtown from the traffic impacts of the WestConnex M8 (formerly the New M5)
2. Writes to the Minister for Transport to:
a. Call on him to ensure that the King Street Gateway Project is in place before the WestConnex M8 opens to traffic, or at the very least, that temporary measures in place to protect King Street prior to the opening;
b. Emphasise the Project’s strong alignment with his public commitment to invest in active transport and safer streets, and his government’s obligation to deliver the Project under the New M5 Conditions of Approval;
c. Request an urgent meeting to ensure this matter can be resolved to Council’s satisfaction before the M8 opens.
Local residents, businesses and community groups in Newtown have been raising concerns about the threat the WestConnex M8 (formerly the New M5) poses to the King Street precinct ever since the project was first announced in 2014.
In response to this public outcry - particularly in relation to the prospect of increased clearways - the NSW government announced that it would construct the King Street Gateway Project in consultation with Inner West Council and the City of Sydney.
The Project is intended to discourage traffic generated by the WestConnex M8 from using King Street, and reclaim space for active transport and streetscape improvements at the southern end of the strip (near St Peters station). Its delivery is a requirement of New M5 Condition of Approval B44, which states:
“The SSI [State Significant Infrastructure] must be designed to not preclude delivery of the King Street Gateway Project. Consultation with the relevant council(s) must be undertaken during detailed design of the SSI to facilitate integration of the two projects. Current traffic modelling and assessment, and the results of the Road network Performance Review Plan as required in Condition E40 wherever applicable, must be provided to the relevant authority and used in the development of the King Street Gateway Project.”
Officers from Inner West Council and City of Sydney had been working with the former RMS (now Transport for NSW) on the project since 2016/17. It had progressed to concept designs in 2017/18, and Councillors were briefed on these in November 2017. Both Councils had raised concerns with what was proposed, and further discussions were required before the designs could be publicly exhibited.
Following my recent enquiries on the matter to Council officers, it’s been brought to my attention that the Project’s development appears to have stalled, with little progress made beyond the above. Yet the M8 is due to open next month.
It is critical to our local economy and community that the King Street precinct is protected from the increased traffic that WestConnex will inevitably bring to the local area, and that at the very least, temporary measures to ensure that this happens need to be implemented before the New M5 opens.
Our Council has already seen what happens when protective measures are not introduced before each stage of WestConnex opens. The road network changes Transport for NSW has proposed for Haberfield, Ashfield and Leichhardt to manage the 10% increase in traffic caused by the New M4 Tunnels will have a disastrous impact on local streets, residents and businesses in those areas if they proceed.
I don’t want to see that situation replicated in Newtown (or for that matter, anywhere in the Inner West that will see increased traffic caused by WestConnex), and Council needs to act urgently to avoid this.