Councils linked in light rail extension

By Paul Hemsley

Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield Councils have taken on more direct involvement with the Inner West Light Rail Extension in Sydney.

The NSW Government and Metro Transport Sydney (MTS), the existing light rail operator, have begun work on design development for construction tendering purposes.

According to a Marrickville Council spokesperson, councils have been involved at all key stages (statutory and non-statutory) in the planning process since the NSW Government’s announcement to implement the project.

“Council staff has also had an ongoing involvement through project steering committee meetings,” the spokesperson said.

“Staff from the councils had an opportunity to comment on tender designs prior to detailed design and construction.”

Councils play a role in assisting with the NSW Government’s community input and consultation, according to the spokesperson.

“Councils regularly disseminate project information through their web, e-mail and other information channels, and provide a forum for local discussion of project issues between the DoT project team and the community at council meetings,” the spokesperson said.

“Almost all community and other submissions made during the planning stages of the project expressed overt support for the project.”

The spokesperson said there will be environmental benefits as well as expanded bush and habitat regeneration areas.

According to a Leichhardt Council spokesperson, the council is concerned about the "lack of community consultation at this stage in the process".

Leichhardt Council has requested a copy of the Department of Transport’s community consultation program so they can provide input and have requested they provide "comprehensive" community consultation during the design and construction phase.

"However, we are concerned that consultation seems to have dried up and there is a real chance that wider community concerns are not being adequately incorporated into the plan," the spokesperson said.

According to the spokesperson, the council has requested the Department of Transport hold separate community workshops for each light rail stop to "drill down" to the concerns of residents and businesses at each site.

"We’ve offered to facilitate those meetings through the provision of staff, venues and community notification."

"As of yet the DoT has not provided this consultation," the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson from Ashfield Council said the council is providing feedback on the plan and rendering technical assistance.

Transport NSW will be undertaking community input and Ashfield Council will facilitate this, the spokesperson said.

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