Liverpool to Parramatta Transitway Surplus Land Development
|About this Item||Subjects||Land; Roads; Auditor General
||Speakers||Lynch Mr Paul
||Business||Private Members Statements
Mr LYNCH (Liverpool) [4.55 p.m.]: I draw to the attention of the House the entirely legitimate concerns held by constituents of mine regarding the future of land between Dale Avenue and Hoxton Park Road at Liverpool. Hoxton Park Road, between the Liverpool council chambers and Banks Road, is the route of the Liverpool to Parramatta transitway project, which I enthusiastically and wholeheartedly support. Significant property acquisition by the Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA] has been necessary along the northern side of Hoxton Park Road between the council chambers and Maxwells Creek. The RTA has acquired full housing blocks. However, it does not need all the land between the northern end of Hoxton Park Road and the rear of the properties that front onto the southern side of Dale Avenue. The strip of land that it does not need for this purpose backs onto those properties in Dale Avenue.
The issue arises over what will happen to the residue land. The RTA seems obsessed with maximising its commercial return and wants to develop this gun-barrel shaped land for medium-density housing. Having regard to the size and shape of the residue land, I regard that use as quite inappropriate. Residents in Dale Avenue and surrounding areas also hold that view, as do some of the Liverpool councillors to whom I have spoken. When I pressed the issue of why the RTA's financial interests should be the determining factor in deciding the future of the land, I was given various platitudes about maximising resources. I was also told that if the RTA did not do so, it would be criticised by the Auditor-General. That struck me as so unlikely that I wrote to the Auditor-General seeking clarification. Part of his letter in reply dated 11 February 2003 reads as follows:
You would appreciate that I cannot "require" any agency to follow a particular course of action. I review agencies' financial reports and operating performance and report to Parliament any issues that I believe call for its attention.
Certainly if I believed that an agency was not making appropriate use of its resources (including inappropriate disposal of resources), I could report that to Parliament. However, I can assure you that this would not extend to the RTA treatment of individual land parcels, unless one instance was part of a wider, systemic problem.
That quite neatly disposes of the rather silly argument that the Auditor-General was forcing the RTA to develop this land. Of course, the RTA has not helped itself in this process. RTA representatives met with residents of Dale Avenue on 21 January this year. Their first mistake was not to notify the local State member of Parliament. The second and even more fundamental mistake was to tell residents that they had plans to develop the residue land, but at that stage could not tell the residents what those plans were. Residents were told that they would have to wait until the development application was lodged.
Moreover, that advice was inconsistent with earlier RTA advice that had been given to some residents. I guess that is a pretty good example of how not to conduct public consultation. The practice of the RTA in trying to be too clever by half continues. It recently issued a newsletter to residents concerning the transitway and proudly proclaimed that high-density development, which concerns residents, is not being pursued by the RTA and that, by inference, the residents should be very grateful to the RTA. That is fine, except that residents are actually more concerned about what the RTA actually proposes, which is medium-density development.
The RTA is obviously trying to pretend that all that worries residents is high-density development and that it has complied with their wishes. That is nonsense. Obviously there are some significant limitations to the art of spin doctoring: When officials start treating people like mugs, it usually backfires. The position of the residents has in fact been made quite clear in a petition signed by many of them. The petition, which was read in this place on 30 April, states in part:
The development of land vacated by the widening of Hoxton Park Road and suggestions that have been given to the residents by the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) that this vacated land will have medium density housing construction upon it.
The petition goes on to state:
This is unacceptable to the residents, as it will increase the traffic flow in and around Dale Avenue, which the street is too narrow to support.
Other portions of the petition make it crystal clear that whatever residents support, it is not medium-density development. The opposition of residents is much broader than just opposition to high-density development. I have to say that I regard the residents' objections as being entirely well founded.
This is simply the wrong site for a medium-density development. I hasten to add that I am not obsessively against medium-density development, as some people are. My problem is about this particular site. The site is long and narrow. It is about half a house block wide, and about 25 houses long. It is almost the ultimate in a gun-barrel development. At present its only vehicular access could be at the extremities of Memorial Avenue or Maryvale Avenue, which is absurd. I suppose the other alternative may be to buy a block in Dale Avenue to allow easier and more appropriate access. That would obviously increase development costs significantly for what I think would be only a marginal improvement in the development.
I urge the RTA not to proceed with its medium-density proposal. If it is foolish enough to do so, I urge Liverpool City Council to reject that development application. The RTA has the wrong proposal for this site. It seems to be driven by commercial imperatives in the same way as a dodgy private developer. It has thus far placed no regard upon the interests, let alone the wishes, of the residents of this area. The RTA should not proceed with this proposal.