June 8, 2014
CBD and South East Light Rail Gets Planning Approval: the Committee commends the partnership between the Government and the City of Sydney which is making this Big City project happen.
The announcement of planning approval for the CBD Light Rail is a key milestone in the transformation of Sydney. The Committee backed the City of Sydney’s light rail vision from the beginning as the kind of game-changing Big City project Sydney needed. Informing this view was the experience of the Committee’s many global members in cities throughout the world whose business centres and suburbs have had the benefits of modern light rail systems. We knew this would be right in the face of much scepticism. And our support is not just historic. We will be working with Government and the City over the period of implementation when there will be many challenges to overcome not least in ensuring businesses in the CBD are fully engaged and consulted and that disruption is kept to a minimum.
Progress on this scale would not have been possible without the collaboration between the NSW government and the City of Sydney which is to be hugely commended. The collaboration is not just based on strategic alignment. The City Council helped catalyse the project by allocating significant resources to it and will be funding and delivering complementary public realm and urban design initiatives along the route. The Council will be allocating over $220m of its resources to the light rail project for public domain improvements. They are also contributing to the cost of new cycleways as well as committing significant internal resources to work with the TfNSW team on community engagement, traffic management, in-ground services, sustainability and urban design. Local Government often gets criticised for a lack of strategic vision or ambition and for blocking change in the face of opposition from often small groups of community activists opposing development. The City, the Lord Mayor and her team have here shown exemplary leadership which many other councils would do well to follow. It is a template for the Big City thinking and municipal boldness we need going forward at a Greater Sydney level.
Likewise the Minister, her team and the Department need to be congratulated for undertaking the project but also the exemplar way in which they have collaborated with the City – and other key stakeholders. The Committee has enjoyed a great relationship with the Minister and her colleagues and we share their passion for the public transport revolution Greater Sydney deserves. We are delighted that as part of this revolution, the Government is now sponsoring the next feasibility stage of the Western Sydney Light Rail project which Parramatta Council has heroically been promoting – another key initiative long supported by the Committee now being progressed.
A note for Committee Members’ diaries: on 20 June at lunch the Committee is hosting Jeff Goodling who leads for the TfNSW on the CBD and Southeast Light Rail. And on 17 July we host Minister Berejiklian at the first formal meeting of our Future Leaders Sounding Board.