Roydon Ng Statement on Proposed Privatisation of John Street Carpark in Lidcombe

Cumberland City Council Meeting – 20 October 2021

C10/21-869 OUTCOME OF TENDER – FINAL NEGOTIATIONS & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT – PROPOSED SALE OF 13 JOHN STREET, LIDCOMBE

Dear Mayor and Councillors

Today marks 8 years of the “Restore Inner West Line” community campaign to bring back much-needed transport services unfairly taken away from Lidcombe and nearby suburbs. Council’s support is appreciated.

On 20 October 2013, direct trains to City via Strathfield were removed from Olympic Park, Berala, Regents Park, Chester Hill, and nearby stations with an impact on over 19,000 commuters every day according to former CityRail executives John Brew, Ron Christie, Bob O’Loughlin, and Dick Day.

The number of commuters forced to interchange at Lidcombe will only grow in a few years with increased population growth in the Carter Street Precinct (North Lidcombe), Olympic Park Wentworth Point, and surrounds, as well as from Birrong and Yagoona commuters who will be disincentivised by Transport for NSW to board trains from their local train station due to the Bankstown Line being cut in half at Bankstown.

A report by Auburn Council’s Planning and Environment Department in 2013 indicated that the lack of direct Sydney Trains from Olympic Park to City would lead to increased car usage. Much of which has resulted in Olympic peninsula commuters driving to Lidcombe (instead of catching the shuttle train) to compete for car parking with local residents around Lidcombe Town Centre.

Much more Birrong and Yagoona commuters will also drive to Lidcombe for 1 train direct train (instead of changing at Bankstown for Metro Southwest and again at Sydenham/Central for another train to reach City Circle).

Cumberland Council should not squander the opportunity to holistically address the impending traffic and commuter parking crisis at Lidcombe arising from NSW Government cuts to Sydney Trains services.

Increased unrestricted parking actually worsens traffic congestion in Lidcombe with more drivers clogging up John St and major intersections (e.g. intersection of Hill Road/Parramatta Road, Lidcombe and around Amy St, Regents Park) as commuters compete for the additional spaces in the carpark.

Increased high-rise development in Lidcombe especially above the John Street Carpark will only remove any additional public car spaces due to visitors and secondary vehicles.

To achieve optimal outcomes for Lidcombe Town Centre, Council is urged to action the following before proceeding with further debate on the privatisation of the John Street Carpark:

  1. Demonstrate Strategic Merit in the Cumberland Local Strategic Planning Statement for the current proposal of the privatisation of the John Street Carpark
  2. Conduct a Traffic and Transport Study for Lidcombe in coordination with Transport for NSW
  3. Collaborate with Parramatta Council to advocate for a restoration of regular Sydney Trains services from Olympic Park to Central (and for EcoTransit’s proposed Pippita CityExpress)
  4. Collaborate with Canterbury-Bankstown Council to advocate for the restoration of regular Sydney Trains services from Bankstown, Yagoona, and Birrong to City Circle (to remove interchange at Lidcombe)
  5. Collaborate with Canterbury-Bankstown Council, Fairfield Council, and Liverpool Council to advocate for the fast-tracking of the NSW Government’s 2024 commitment to partially restore direct trains from West of Bankstown (from Liverpool to City via Regents Park) noting that Transport for NSW has indicated that services will use currently available infrastructure.

It should be noted that while also restoring express trains from Lidcombe to City is necessary, doing so without direct trains to City via Inner West from Olympic Park, Birrong, and Yagoona etc will only lead to more commuters driving to Lidcombe as means to avoid interchanging between trains.

Privatisation of the John Street Carpark especially without a Lidcombe Traffic and Transport Study, adequate community consultation (which ought to have commenced in March 2020 when Council resolved to undertake expressions of interest to identify outcomes/uses for the site), and the fact that debate regarding this item has only been in Closed Session also raises serious probity issues.

The lack of a Traffic and Transport Study appears to suggest that Council is not putting the community’s interests first when considering changes to the John Street Carpark.

The community webinar was poorly attended and lacked details such as the number of current spaces in the carpark (although staff were helpful in responding later) as well as how privatisation of the site aligns with the Local Strategic Planning Statement.

Overall consultation has been too little and too late especially as the information materials and public signage hasn’t been made widely available especially in the various main languages of Cumberland residents.

While it is reasonable that tenders are currently confidential, the public should have had an opportunity to be involved in Council Meetings with a separate item of debate towards the determination of future car parking requirements for the John Street site.

Cumberland Council is urged to not proceed with the privatisation of the John Street Carpark until further community consultation is conducted and the above matters are adequately addressed.

Motion to privatise the John Street Carpark (Lidcombe) defeated