This is a summary of the sections of the EIS which deal with Social and Economic Impacts. It also contains some editorial comment and critique
What is the purpose of the summary?
The lives of many thousands of people would be negatively affected by the M4E project. Many have already been disrupted and experienced the severe stress of losing homes and community. Others are living in fear of the intense noise, dust and large scale construction that will surround them for years or are worrying about what it would be like to be live beside a massive tollway. Beyond this specific proposal for the M4E tunnel, millions will be affected by the whole Westconnex project. There is the potential health, social and economic costs of more traffic congestion and the lost opportunity cost of spending $15.5 billion on tollroads rather than public transport. In evaluating this EIS,it’s important to understand how adequately these negative impacts have been evaluated. But this is difficult because the reports are long and often repetitive.
The community members could research and describe those impacts themselves – and some residents and groups are doing that – but it is also useful to understand what is in the EIS report. This summary of the Westconnex Social and Economic impacts reports will guide you through the material.
This is a summary so by publishing this summary, we’re not suggesting that the material in the EIS reports is adequate or even accurate. In fact, even a cursory reading will convince those who know about this project that it is an inadequate report. For example when the EIS refers to ‘community consultation’ it might be referring to what many members of the community have experienced as inadequate information provision. Some ‘facts’ may also be selected rather than others because they promote the case for the Westconnex. Much of the information in the reports was not gathered by consultants GHD but by Westconnex communications staff. So treat the reports and summaries as starting points for further investigation. Soon, we will publish our first critique of this section. You can use any of our material to produce your own submission. If you see points that you think should be investigated or are wrong but don’t have time or resources to do that, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
It’s also relevant to keep in mind that these reports are not independent. They were signed off by AECOM,which has major interests in the project. The work was done for AECOM by GHD another major contractor who boast on its website that “together with their clients are creating community benefit”. The clients are other major private companies and public authorities. The question addressed by the reports is not ‘given these social impacts, should the project go ahead?’ but ‘Assuming the project goes ahead what will the impact be?’
Some points of interest have been emphasised in ‘bold’ and a few Editor’s comments in ‘italics’.
If you want to read the full reports the links to Appendices M (Social Impact) and N ( Economic Impact) are here
Summary Chapter 14 Social and economic, Appendix M (Social Impact Assessment) and Appendix N (Economic Impact Assessment)
The study area is defined in terms of both local precincts and local government areas. Generally, it is narrowly defined -for example, although the M4E may together with the M5 impact on Marrickville and City of Sydney local government areas, they are excluded from the assessment.
The study area is defined as the ‘Ashfield, Auburn, Burwood, Canada Bay and Strathfield local government areas’ which are compared to the greater Sydney region ‘as the wider catchment for the project’
The social impact assessment considers five local study area precincts: Homebush precinct, Concord precinct, Cintra Park precinct, Wattle Street precinct and the Parramatta Road precinct.
The economic impact assessment outlines the following areas as those ‘most likely to experience business impacts due to the project’—Homebush SA2, Strathfield SA2, Concord West – North Strathfield SA2, Concord – Mortlake – Cabarita SA2, Burwood – Croydon SA2, Five Dock – Abbottsford SA2 – Ashfield SA2, Haberfield – Summer Hill SA2; but also makes references to the wider economy particularly in Appendix N (Economic Impact Assessment)
The socio-economic assessment also draws on community consultation ‘undertaken…during land acquisition and community engagement activities’ and is planned to continue through to operation of the M4 – East project. This consultation led to the following issues being identified: ‘property impacts, traffic and transport, air quality, ventilation and health, preferred design, open space, recreational and community facilities, heritage and environment, noise and vibration, amenity, construction [and the] community consultation process.’ (Editor: The report assumes that this community consultation has taken place but many residents deny this. The report also recommends that counselling and support should be available for people being forced to move from their homes but many involved in the process say this is not happening.)
No consultation was undertaken specifically for the Economic Impact Assessment
The approach to the study included desktop research from Australian Bureau of Statistics and other sources (there is a lot of that), some consultation with Councils and some social infrastructure providers, documentation of the consultation process and a review of technical reports.’Social research’ was conducted to establish community values and local issues but it not clear what form this took and no references are provided.
( Editor: At a Strathfield EIS exhibition session, it was explained that two GHD consultants did some direct consultation with Councils in 2014 but in 2015, after the final route was announced, Councils were not further consulted. In 2015, consultaiton with social infrastructure providers was only done by giving questions to WDA communications staff who communicated answers back. There was a review of other technical reports, most of which were only available in final form shortly before the EIS was completed in early September. No focus groups were conducted and no direct interviews between the consultant GHD and affected residents were conducted.)
On page 23 of Appendix M Table 3.1 describes a ratings framework which was used to rank or assess the impacts. The framework has time, location and level of impact ( negligible, minor, moderate and major) dimensions but there is little reference to the application of the framework in the rest of the report and it is not clear where and how it was applied.
This section examines the existing context of the local government areas and precincts this project is likely to affect, but is generally limited to the physical footprint only (ie social and most economic effects that occur outside the footprint of the project will not be able to be assessed by this report)
- 258,326 people reside in the study area as of 2011, with this set to increase by 52% to 393,750 by 2031
64,000 people employed in the study area as of 2011, with this potentially to rise to 100,000 by 2031
Gross regional product (GRP) of the area $21.4 billion (2012-13) with 18,200 businesses in the area in 2014 (14-8), mainly small businesses (91% under 20 employees) and most commonly real estate (16%), professional (14%) and construction (13%)
Parramatta Road currently congested, limited parking and low amenity leading to reduced business viability, with A Plan for Growing Sydney outlining Sydney Olympic Park, Rhodes and Burwood as strategic centres to have 10,000 jobs and be ‘employment, retail, housing, services and mixed uses’ prioritised; also priority revitalisation at Wentworth Point and Carter Street
Business clusters close to the project are listed as Lidcombe Business Park and Campus, Homebush Business Park, Sydney Markets, Direct Factory Outlets (DFO) Homebush, the Bakehouse Quarter, businesses along Parramatta Road and town centres and shopping/business centres including a cluster close to Strathfield Station, Great North Road (Five Dock), Burwood Road and Liverpool Road (Ashfield)
Cars are the dominant mode of transport for the area, however car ownership (1.3 to 1.6 vehicles per household compared to the Greater Sydney average of 1.6) and car usage (65% weekday trips in private vehicles) are both lower than the Greater Sydney average
14% of average weekday trips by people living in the area are undertaken by train and 2% by bus
30% of vehicles on the M4 during morning peak are travelling for work, increasing to 40% during business hours
63% of freight in NSW was carried by road in 2011, freight task in NSW expected to almost double to 794 million tonnes by 2031, ‘maintaining an efficient and effective road network is vital to support this growth’ with limited additional capacity during peak periods
13 hours of congestion per day on M4, with average peak speeds to 38km/h on the M4 and 17km/h on Parramatta Road—‘Sustained congestion increases the time and cost of travel for freight and commercial movements, reduces the efficiency of freight movements and business travel, and hinders economic growth’
In 2011 congestion cost NSW $5.1 billion, rise to $8.8 billion by 2020
Social infrastructure ‘has been identified as part of the social impact assessment’
- Seven community facilities
- Eight aged care and nursing homes
- Five primary schools, three high schools and three Kindergarten to Year 12 schools, five childcare centres and one tertiary education provider
- A number of sports and recreation facilities
- A range of health and emergency services
- Religious services
- Shopping areas
Transport – Access and connectivity
‘major traffic routes’ are Parramatta Road, the M4, Concord Road and Homebush Bay Drive/Centenary Drive
In terms of public transport, seven train stations service the area, North Strathfield, Flemington, Homebush, Strathfield, Burwood, Croydon and Ashfield, and it is also serviced by seven bus routes (525, 526, 415, 461, 490, 491 and 492)
Pedestrians and cyclists are said to have varied conditions, with good conditions existing around residential areas as well as Sydney Markets, Sydney Olympic Park, Rhodes and Burwood having walkable access to rail and bus connections:
Pedestrian and cyclist conditions will deteriorate during construction as Bill Boyce Reserve is to be occupied for construction and currently links a pedestrian and cyclist route between the south side of the M4 and a pedestrian bridge
3 of 5 precincts have younger age profiles (Homebush, Concord and Parramatta Road with significantly more aged 18-34), with Cintra Park (‘with more 70 to 84 year olds’) and Wattle Street exhibiting older populations
Homebush with ‘high rates of vehicle ownership and car dependence for travel to work’ yet ‘higher train use for travel to work’, Concord with lower car ownership and car dependence and higher train use to work, Wattle Street with higher rates of vehicle ownership and car dependency to travel to work, and higher bus use to travel to work. Parramatta Road with lower car ownership and usage, and higher public transport use.
New Parramatta Rd: Draft Parramatta Road Urban Renewal Strategy envisions ‘up to 40,000 new dwellings and 50,000 new jobs…generated in the urban renewal precincts’ and ‘access to public and active transport’, three of eight precincts for urban renewal are within the project area (Homebush, Burwood and Kings Bay).
Issues raised by councils within the project boundary (see Appendix M, pp. 61-62 and also Appendix D of the Social Impact Assessment)
(Editor:Important to note that consultations with Councils were only done on the concept plan. They were not repeated in 2015 after the final route was announced. This is important and explains, for instance, why Ashfield Council did not raise the issue of loss of housing, impact on residents of losing their houses and concerns about loss of heritage. In other words, the Planning Department required Westconnex to consult with Councils but failed to give Councils an opportunity to express their views on the chosen route.)
Ashfield Council: Impacts on access and connectivity including to social infrastructure and accessibility by pedestrians and cyclists, impacts specific to older residents (such as mobility, safety, connectivity and isolation), increased travel time impacting on health and wellbeing, Parramatta Road becoming even more of a barrier between the north and south sides of the LGA, ‘impact on wellbeing of families, extended time away from families due to increased commute’, ‘health and wellbeing impacts on local residents resulting from tunnel exhaust emissions, as well as visual impacts of ventilation stacks’, noise and vibration impacts, and the ‘physical and mental health implications of the proposal’
Burwood Council:Increased traffic on local road network (especially during construction as drivers avoid Parramatta Road, and also following project completion), noise, vibration and dust concerns, location of exhaust stacks and associated health concerns for those who live, work or attend school near them, concerns regarding the need for adequate consultation with residents whose properties will be acquired, need to limit negative heritage impacts and retain local character
City of Canada Bay Council: Impact on street trees, potential disbursement of unregistered brothels into surrounding residential areas, benefits to Parramatta Road, property acquisition impacts on community cohesion, noted resident action groups against WestConnex, parking strategy to minimise worker parking in local streets, opposition of Concord Oval for the site of a construction compound—‘impacts on national, regional and local sporting teams’, air, noise and vibration issues during construction, air and noise impacts during operation
Strathfield Council: Journey disruptions and increased traffic, vulnerable communities will be most affected (such as by access ramps, reduced value of dwellings affecting retirement, further segregation from Strathfield town centre), construction aligning with Ford Factory development leading to traffic problems, Underwood Road traffic problems worsening, impacts on pedestrian access (such as across Centenary Drive), concern regarding ventilation stacks close to residential areas, financial impact of tolls on community members, local heritage and biodiversity impacts, reduced access to residential and commercial areas
Auburn City Council :Impacts to cycleways
Issues raised by social infrastructure consultations (see Appendix M, pp. 63-64 and Appendix E in the SIA) include:
Sydney Cheil Uniting Church: Lost green space and car parking, changed traffic flow, amenity impacts
Wests Tigers: Disrupted training as Cintra Park Hockey Field relocated to St Lukes oval, concern at need to find new ovals, noise, dust and air quality, impacts by construction workers to local roads and parking
The Willows Private Nursing Home: Impacted access for staff, deliveries, patient transport and emergency services, noise impacts and duration of construction works, changed access due to relocation of route 406 bus stop and reduced privacy for residents
Yasmar Training Facility: Loss of accommodation for trainees, changed access due to route 406 bus stop relocation, changed pedestrian access
Haberfield Presbyterian Aged Care: Noise and dust impacts
The Infants Home: Impacts on access and parking, air quality and visual impacts
Haberfield Public School: Impact on children’s safety, construction noise and air quality impacts
St Andrew’s Anglican Church (Strathfield): Impact to local roads and parking from construction workers, traffic noise impacts on church activities, traffic congestion, noise and parking impacts
Concord Baptist Church: Changed access and air quality impacts from ventilation outlets
Ashfield Bowls Club: Changed access due to bus stop relocation, impact to local roads and parking for patrons and deliveries, amenity and safety impacts and street parking impacts
Assessment of construction impacts
This section summarises the ‘potential adverse and beneficial impacts during project construction’ as given in Chapter 14 Social and economic, Appendix M (Social Impact Assessment) and Appendix N (Economic Impact Assessment).
WestConnex Development Authority identifies economic stimulus from construction expenditure and employment to ‘boost…the economy’ and ‘‘Indirect effects’ [that] are flow-on effects to the wider state economy, such as increased expenditure and employment within industries that supply to the businesses that directly supply the project with their goods or services’, also ‘Employment opportunities would grow in the region…increase in demand for labour may increase wages in the region, particularly for construction workers’
Acquisition of properties:
See Table 10.1 taken from Appendix M, p. i
- 291 properties affected in total, 168 that are to be acquired (a ‘conservative’ estimate—see Appendix M, p. 66), along with partial acquisition of fifteen residential dwellings (though the document states that these partially acquired dwellings will not be impacted). Residents would also be forced to leave 98 properties already owned by RMS.
66 residential properties of heritage significance (Appendix M, p. iv)
About 460 people will be affected through acquisitions
Table 10,1 states 14 residential homes in Homebush; 46 in Concord; 83 in Wattle Street and 25 in Parramatta Rd.
All properties to be vacated by the end of the first quarter of 2016, WestConnex Development Authority began acquisitions in 2013, in June 2015 individual property owners were notified that dwellings to be acquired
‘Significant social risks’ (Appendix M, p. 96) from property acquisition include ‘inaccessibility of equivalent housing at a comparable cost…relocation health risks…[and] altered access to social infrastructure’ as well as potential housing stress due to higher rent or house costs. It is ‘expected that the majority of owner-occupiers would aim to relocate within the local area’, and effects may be compounded by the timeframe of just 9 months for some households to be relocated, market volatility and reduced housing stock available to relocate into (Appendix M, p. 68)
The stress and anxiety of compulsory acquisition, or uncertainty surrounding the process, leads to impacts on health, well-being and quality of life, which have been worsened by the uncertainty and the changing footprint of the project with some dwellings originally to be acquired now not, and some originally not impacted now required for the project (Appendix M, p. 68)
Vulnerable households (e.g. the sick, frail elderly, low income etc) would be most susceptible to these impacts. These risks would also be exacerbated for less vulnerable households, as land acquisition would increase property demand in the local area with some households with only nine months to identify alternate properties.
Two properties to be acquired in the Concord Road precinct are public housing properties. With already low levels of public housing in the area, this would further reduce the available affordable housing stock locally.(Appendix M p. ii)
Property acquisition and project development in the Wattle Street Haberfield precinct is expected to exacerbate the severance currently created by Wattle Street, with the potential to negatively impact on local community cohesion.
Also 23 commercially zoned properties and one residential zoned, with a total of 20 commercial buildings to be acquired.
‘Overall it is anticipated that the social impacts of relocating for many of the directly affected households would be major short-term impacts. In some cases, where households are unable to relocate locally, the social impact may involve an extended recovery time to re-establish social networks and daily routines for work, study and recreation. Alternatively, where households need to incur higher levels of debt in order to remain in the local area, increased mortgage or rental stress may result in greater and longer term social impacts’
(Editor: This clearly identifies signficant social impacts but lack depth of information about the actual risks because no research was done on the ground on this aspect by the consultants.)
Changes in amenity
Three years of noise and vibration impacts, which are stated to ‘cause stress and anxiety, affect the enjoyment of outdoor spaces and disturb normal indoor activities…[and] interrupt sleep patterns, with consequent impacts on health and wellbeing’, and ‘In locations where the tunnel is less than 40 metres deep’ such as at Concord Road, to the east of Burwood Road, to the south of Parramatta Road, Ashfield and at Wattle Street ‘there is the potential for ground borne noise to exceed noise criteria for longer periods’, up to 2 weeks, only to conclude: ‘More consideration of management measures would be required during detailed design to minimise and mitigate these impacts’
Noise impacts also associated with construction traffic have the potential to affect local roads (see Appendix M, p. 85)
Given ‘the potential for exceedance of night time noise criteria at some construction compound sites’, and the 3 year construction timeframe, property treatments or alternate accommodation for residents might be necessary (see Appendix M, p. 85)
Visual environment also changed – which ‘affect[s] how and where [residents and workers] choose to travel and relax, both at home and outside the home, how they enjoy outdoor areas, and how much they identify with their environment. This relationship to environment therefore has strong links to physical and psychological wellbeing.’ Measures to avoid, mitigate and manage amenity impacts are given as important for community health
Major amenity challenges will relate to ‘removal of existing vegetation and loss of resultant visual amenity’ and ‘properties overlooking construction compounds and work sites.’
There will be effects through changes in amenity on businesses, especially but not limited to ‘outdoor restaurants and cafes, hotels and pubs, childcare centres and aged care facilities’
‘…impacts on residences adjacent to the Pomeroy Street construction compound, Underwood Road tunnel and civil site and Concord Road civil and tunnel sites, would experience high visual impacts. Residents in Wattle Street, Walker Avenue, Ramsay Street, Martin Street and Dobroyd Parade would also experience high visual impact due to their proximity to multiple project elements’ (Appendix M, p. iv, see also Appendix M, p. 86)
Heritage of the local area will be greatly affected by the project (Appendix M, pp. 86-87):
Much of the western Concord precinct is part of the Powell’s Estate Heritage Conservation Area (HCA), 11 properties to be required are in this area and 2 are items of local significance (Canada Bay Council Local Environmental Plan 2013)—representing ‘a major adverse impact on the heritage significance of the Powell’s Estate HCA.’
53 residential properties to be acquired are part of the Haberfield Heritage Conservation Area, ‘the impact of the project on the heritage significance of the Haberfield HCA and individual heritage items would be significant.’
2 properties acquired in Chandos Street (Parramatta Road precinct) are heritage items on the Ashfield LEP 2013 and the historical importance of the Federation-era streetscape in which they exist would decrease due to their demolition
Changes to accessibility
Despite ‘14.2 Existing environment’ outlining that there is limited additional capacity for Parramatta Road given current congestion levels, the effects of a 2% increase in traffic on Parramatta Road due to construction road users is not considered an accessibility issue of the project
The construction force is also expected to increase traffic volume on surrounding local streets
The surface construction will impact on property access, pedestrian and cyclist movement, bus stop locations, local roads and intersections and travel times, with journeys affected by traffic delays and detours
Most heavy vehicles to access the construction facilities from roads including Parramatta Road, M4, Concord Road and Wattle Street
Local roads to be impacted temporarily during construction are (see Table 2.3 Appendix M, pp. 16-17 for more details): Pomeroy Street/Wentworth Road South intersection, Underwood Road, Sydney Street and Queen Lane, M4 east of Sydney Street off-ramp, Northcote Street, Ramsay Street, Martin Street, Walker Avenue, Chandos Street, Parramatta Road (between Orphington and Bland Streets) and Orphington Street. Also permanent alteration or closure to a number of streets (see Appendix M, pp. 17-18)
Additional accessibility issues include:
Short-term closures to the pedestrian bridge over the M4 at Pomeroy Street and the Bland Street pedestrian Bridge with ‘short-term access issues’
Insufficient parking will be provided for construction staff, and given that ‘the availability of on-street parking is a pressing local issue’ a construction car parking strategy would be developed
Existing M4 cycleway to be closed between Haslams Creek (Newington) and Concord Road
Traffic delays will affect all road users (motorists, bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians), impacts will include:
Slower buses, slower access to bus stops (4 stops relocated), reduced public transport reliability, reduced amenity for bus users
Reduced pedestrian safety (temporary closure of footpaths along Wattle Street, Martin Street, Parramatta Road and Chandos Street) and increased wait times at signalised intersections
Increased journey times and distances due to closed road shoulders and detours
Reduced overall amenity throughout the study area
Impacts on businesses reliant on deliveries
Longer journey times and decreased efficiencies for freight and commercial vehicles during construction
The need for some alternative access to local properties
No evaluation of these impacts is given against the ‘Impact assessment rating criteria’ as given in the Methodology section
Health of the community (MISSING IN CHAPTER 14):
‘worst case assessments without mitigation would likely generate health impacts for some receivers during some works. Loss of use of outdoor areas, disturbance of sleep, reduced capacity for concentration, with speech and other activities would be likely with potential for effects on cardiovascular health if elevated noise at particular locations occurred for extended periods.’ (Appendix M, p. 87)
‘Negative health impacts may occur as a result of traffic changes during construction, property acquisitions, visual changes, noise impacts and changes in access/cohesion of local areas. These may result in increased levels of stress and anxiety. Those most vulnerable to these changes are likely to be the elderly and people from non-English speaking backgrounds.’ (Appendix M, p. 87)
Changes to social infrastructure involves direct impacts on: (see Table 14.8, Chapter 14)
Strathfield Girl Guides Hall (acquired, all users temporarily relocated)
Bill Boyce Reserve (100% leased as a construction ancillary facility, closed to public for the entire project)
Arnotts Reserve (some area currently not accessible to public used during construction, though visual amenity reduced and noise and visual impacts on currently used Arnotts Reserve north of the M4)
Sydney Chiel Uniting Church (partial acquisition along the Concord Road frontage involving loss of greenspace, a playground, parking space and changed access—parking and greenspace areas of greatest concern for church community)
Cintra Park (acquired, currently a hockey field, to be relocated, increased travel times for people accessing Concord Oval and St Lukes Park due to a substantial increase in vehicles entering the Cintra Park compound via Gipps Street)
Reg Coady Reserve (directly impacted during construction, 18% of the reserve used during construction and 12% lost permanently, with adjacent parkland subject to noise, visual, and other amenity impacts)
Zongde Temple (acquired, 2,000 people served by it, inconvenienced as they are relocated)
Changes to social infrastructure will have ‘indirect impacts’ on the following:
(see Table 14.8 and Appendix M, pp. 76-81 for additional details)
Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church; St Michael’s Serbian Orthodox Church; Concord Baptist Church; St Andrew’s Anglican Church; Jehovah’s Witnesses Church; The Infants Home; Haberfield Public School; Willows Private Nursing Home; Haberfield Aged Care; Peek-A-Boo Early Learning Centre; Ashfield Park and Bowling Club and Yasmar Training Facility
‘For the purpose of the EIA, an affected business has been defined as a business that would be impacted by property acquisition, changes in amenity, changes to accessibility or changes in the volume of passing trade due to the construction and operation of the project’
20 business buildings fully acquired (one motel, 4 offices, 9 auto sales/services, 1 personal services, 3 homewares, 2 retail)
Business impacts identified in Appendix N (p. 6-4) relate predominantly to:
- Increased noise and vibration due to plant and equipment or road traffic noise
- Changes in local air quality due to dust emissions
- Changes in visual amenity close to businesses
Specific business impacts will include (see Appendix N, p. 6-5)
- DFO (Homebush) carpark affected by dust, noise and visual amenity due to adjacent construction works
- Ashfield Bowling Club affected by dust levels, noise and visual amenity—especially on bowling greens, though these are located on the other side of the clubhouse to construction
- Businesses along Parramatta Road (such as commercial and car yards), along Powell Street and in the Bakehouse Quarter (North Strathfield) impacted by changes in amenity
Impact largely determinant on construction hours, length of construction, activity undertaken, proximity to project and nature of business
And also business impacts relating to accessibility (see Table 6.2 in Appendix N, pp. 6-7 to 6-9 for further details):
Increased congestion impacting delivery times, freight movement, customer travel times and destination decisions
Changes in parking availability
Changes in pedestrian or cycling arrangements affecting staff and customers
A car parking strategy will be developed and deliveries to/from businesses are not anticipated to be effected
Consultation led to the following business impacts or concerns being raised (from Table 5, Appendix N, p. 5.1), though note no specific consultation was undertaken for the EIA:
- Impacts to local business due to acquisition, disruption due to construction and changed conditions leading to business viability issues
- Impacts of noise, vibration, dust and air quality and construction traffic on businesses
-‘Potential impacts on access arrangements for commercial operations including deliveries and customer access by foot, bicycle and private vehicle.’
- ‘Potential impact on access for customers and deliveries due to construction traffic.’
Assessment of impacts during operation
This section assesses the impacts of the project during its operational life in ‘Chapter 14 Social and economic’, Appendix M (Social Impact Assessment) and Appendix N (Economic Impact Assessment).
Economic stimulus:EIS claims that operational expenditure and employment will add $39 million to the NSW economy through increased industry output, $9m through increased household income, 110 increased full time equivalent employment positions and $18m in ‘value added’
Changes in amenity:Positive changes given as visual benefits and reduced noise due to less traffic along 96% of Parramatta Road and the M4
Negative aspects of surface works are given (with minimal detail) as loss of vegetation screening, new road infrastructure – interchanges, tunnel ramps, bridges/flyovers and new noise walls, closer proximity to new road infrastructure for some properties, ancillary operation facilities such as ventilation facilities, the motorway control centre, electricity sub-stations and the water treatment facility, loss of heritage items and changes to streetscapes
4% of receivers used for noise testing found noticeable noise increases—in some cases ‘increased outdoor noise levels may result in increased levels of stress at individual properties’ (Appendix M, p. vi).Measures at certain properties will need to be taken
Given the above amenity points, important to consider that ‘changes to the amenity of a street or suburb can negatively impact the sense of belonging and identity of its residents and consequently their cohesion and connectedness. Areas with heritage value can also be a significant contributor to local character and community sense of place. Impacts on heritage assets affect not only the value of the assets, but the value communities place on the quality of their environment, and their connections to it, both past and present’ (Chapter 14, p. 25)
‘Businesses located along Parramatta Road, east of Concord Road and not located adjacent to the eastern or western portal, would experience reduced noise levels, improved air quality and improved visual amenity due to the reduction in vehicle numbers, particularly heavy vehicles on Parramatta Road. Businesses located at the eastern and western portals and west of Concord Road are likely to experience increases in noise, reduced air quality and reduced visual amenity due to increased traffic volumes and the introduction of new infrastructure.’ (Chapter 14, p. 25)
Freight and efficiency
Full benefit predicted to be fully realised when/if other stages of WestConnex completed
Changes in passing trade
19% loss of output and full time employment for businesses along Parramatta Road due to reduced passing trade, equivalent to $7.3 million output
‘This assessment does not take into account the potential increase in passing trade for businesses along Parramatta Road, west of Concord Road, from an increase in traffic volumes associated with drivers choosing to avoid the motorway tolls. Five businesses were identified as potentially benefitting from an increase in passing trade, comprising service stations, a car wash and cafes/restaurants.’
Changes to accessibility
‘…in the medium term, before the construction of the proposed future M4-M5 Link, congestion would increase in some areas, particularly on Parramatta Road east of the project’ (Appendix M, p. vi) — with construction traffic leading to a peak of 1,260 heavy and 920 light vehicles per day (Appendix N, p. 6-6)
Reductions in traffic delay between Homebush Bay Drive and City West Link and Haberfield/Leichardt, reduced traffic on Parramatta Road between the M4 and Dalhousie Street.
Worsened traffic conditions elsewhere, especially M4 project ramps at Parramatta Road and Dobroyd Parade.
Reliant on M4-M5 Link (subject to planning approval) to fix ‘much of this congestion’
Medium term traffic impacts on local and regional access to Parramatta Road, increasing travel times
Peak morning travel times reduced by just 6-8 minutes before construction of the M4-M5 Link, then if the Link is constructed time savings increase to 10-18 minutes (again, dependent on a separate project subject to planning approval)
The project might allow for the provision of a bus route through to Burwood from the CBD — ‘Improvements in public transport availability and efficiency would have broad social benefits. The use of public transport includes incidental exercise (eg walking to and from bus or train stops), increasing the chance of travellers meeting recommended daily physical activity targets. A more active lifestyle can help reduce the risk of preventable diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers. It can also help improve mental health, community life, social wellbeing and community safety’ (Chapter 14, p. 27)
‘Parramatta Road is a major transport corridor that has multiple bus routes. The study area is also well serviced by the rail network with seven stations within walking distance of the construction sites.’ (Appendix M, p. 15)
Improved urban amenity and cycling infrastructure could attract more cyclists, but this assumes that amenity will increase (it will decrease at least during construction—see section 14.3.3) and that cycling infrastructure would be implemented in the future
Yet despite the ‘broad social benefits’ of public transport given above, ‘The project would modify pedestrian and cyclist access at the Concord Road interchange. Access would be most affected for residents and those moving between the north and north-east of the interchange and the south of the interchange, including the southbound bus stop on Concord Road. Travel distance would increase due to the need to travel around new project element such as the onramps. Together these changes would potentially reduce ease of access for public transport users travelling to/from the north and north east of the interchange, particularly in relation to accessing the bus stop which provides connections to Strathfield and Burwood. As walkable bus stop catchment areas is generally regarded as 400 metres, increasing walking distances beyond these could create a disincentive to public transport use.’
In terms of property access, Sydney Cheil Uniting Church’s historic entrance will be acquired, and changes made to the Sydney Street access, while apartments at 98 Chandos Street (Ashfield) will have access road relocated and offset
Visual and heritage impacts from operation of the project will include loss of vegetation screening, new road infrastructure, closer proximity to road infrastructure for some properties, the impact of ventilation facilities, the motorway control centre, electricity sub-stations, and a water treatment facility, and lost heritage items and changed streetscapes (Appendix M, pp. 92-93)
‘Changes to the amenity of a street or suburb can negatively impact the sense of belonging and identity of its residents and consequently their cohesion and connectedness. The heritage values of areas such as the Powells Estate in North Strathfield and Haberfield, are also a significant contributor to local character and community sense of place. Impacts to heritage assets affect not only the value of the assets, but the value communities place on the quality of their environment, and their connections to it, both past and present.’ (Appendix M, p. 93)
Social infrastructure that will be affected for the duration of the tunnel’s operation
Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church on Underwood Street; HomebushStrathfield Girl Guides Hall;Bill Boyce Reserve (returned following operation)
Powells Creek/Arnotts Reserve (Powells Creek overshadowed by on-ramp)
Sydney Cheil Uniting Church (faces reduced visual amenity, increased noise, reduced parking, close to new tunnel, ramps and a noise wall)
Cintra Park precinct (operational aspects including smoke extraction facility, a water treatment facility and an electricity distribution substation, with ‘minor’ visual changes, construction car park available post-construction)
Wattle Street precinct (1,813m2 of Reg Coady Reserve permanently lost, which ‘is not considered to be a significant impact on the availability of open space in the local area’ by WestConnex Development Authority)
Parramatta Road precinct
Zongde Temple permanently relocated
Effects on Haberfield Aged Care, Peek-A-Boo Early Learning Centre, Willows Private Nursing Home, Yasmar, Ashfield Park and Ashfield Bowling Club, all adjacent or near to the project site, are expected to be ‘minor–moderate’ by WestConnex Development Authority, but no further details are given
Impacts on Human Health during operation
‘Air quality impacts are of significant (community)concern with regard to this project…The project is expected to result in a redistribution of impacts associated with vehicle emissions’ so that some areas will experience reduced pollution levels, while in others that experience higher surface traffic volumes ‘a small increase in pollutant concentration may occur.’ (Appendix M, p. 93)
Editor: This section merely restates what is in other reports. These statements are contested by critics
Impacts on business during operation
Concerns were raised about potential business impacts during operation of the project (see Table 5.1, Appendix N, p. 5-1) during consultations although note that no consultation was conducted specifically for the Economic Impact Assessment.
- Impacts of tolls costs on residents,
- Loss of trade due to reduced passing traffic, including impacts to advertising and ability to attract passing trade
- Acquisition effects on local businesses
- loss of amenity from proximity of tunnel entry / exit points, road widening and ventilation outlets to businesses’
Social impact report concludes: ‘Overall, it is anticipated that businesses located in the vicinity of interchanges may experience adverse amenity impacts due to the introduction of new infrastructure and changes in noise levels. However, some businesses located along Parramatta Road between Concord Road, Concord and Wattle Street, Ashfield, and away from the interchange sites will experience improvements in amenity due to the removal of a significant proportion of heavy vehicles along this section of Parramatta Road resulting in improved air quality, visual amenity and noise levels.’ (Appendix N, p. 7-5) (Editor comment:This conclusion is dependent on accuracy of traffic predictions.)
‘Worst case scenario’ modelling — $7.3million and 33 full time equivalent jobs lost due to loss in passing trade, or 19% of total output of businesses reliant on passing trade—but based on estimates rather than actual calculations (Appendix N, p. 7-3)
Editor:Do readers think this is accurate?
Linkage or flow-on effects of impacts of these businesses shutting down are not considered [but are assumed ‘likely to be minor’ by WestConnex Development Authority]
Changes in accessibility due to changes in access arrangements for pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles
Cumulative impacts associated with other major infrastructure projects in the region, specifically the M4 Widening Project and the Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Program.’
‘Rat-running’ will be an outcome of the tolls imposed for the M4 – East project, whereby local streets are used by through-traffic to avoid toll ways.
‘The implementation of tolls on the M4 and M4 East to recover the capital costs of construction and the operating and maintenance costs of the projects will result in a number of motorists that are unwilling to pay the toll to divert onto Parramatta Road or other alternate routes. Commercial vehicles and freight operators using these roads can either pay the tolls and benefit from decreased travel time, increased efficiency and reductions in vehicle operating costs, or choose not to pay the toll and experience longer travel times.’ (Appendix N, p. 7-2)
Assessment of cumulative impacts
This section summarises the impacts’ cumulative effects on social and economic factors as identified in ‘Chapter 14 Social and Economic’, Appendix M (Social Impact Assessment) and Appendix N (Economic Impact Assessment).
Cumulative Impacts of Construction
Cumulative impacts most likely to occur according to WestConnex Development Authority will be because of concurrent construction activity (such as new M5 and M4 widening)—employment and economic stimulus opportunities, increased local employment opportunities, potential higher wages for construction workers, opportunity for local businesses to supply the goods and services
‘Construction of the project and M4 West (Parramatta to Homebush) would overlap, resulting in extended durations of construction impacts. At a local and regional level, for commuters, public transport users, pedestrians and cyclists, social impacts related to travel delays, diversions and inconvenience, exposure to visual and noise amenity impacts would be prolonged’ (Appendix M, p. 95), up to 5 years (Appendix N, p. 6-10)
‘Businesses and key centres located in the areas of overlap with the M4 Widening and the M4 East projects (particularly around the M4 and Homebush Bay Drive) are likely to experience traffic delays for customers and staff, extended periods of amenity impacts due to increases in noise, increases in dust levels and changes in visual amenity due to the construction of these projects. This is also likely to affect key centres such as Flemington Markets and the Sydney Olympic Park precinct. The M4-M5 link is scheduled for construction from 2019 to 2023; this project may also result in construction fatigue for businesses and road users in areas of overlap.’ (Appendix N, p. 6-9)
During cumulative construction, there could also be construction fatigue for users and motorists of the M4 due to the length of the project (4 years), increased travel times along Parramatta Road and M4 and impacts on freight movements
Cumulative impacts of operation
The only cumulative impacts of the operation of the M4 – East project that are provided are those that consider the wider WestConnex project and the Parramatta Road Urban Renewal Project, and all given are positive
The cumulative impacts listed here include a reduction in traffic along Parramatta Road (and the combination with the Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Program to improve amenity and accessibility), benefit to the freight link (again looking at the entire WestConnex project), urban renewal projects that will be possible because of the project (but that also require the Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Program/another section of WestConnex to be completed), faster and more reliable public transport along Parramatta Road and increased active transport
‘Increases in traffic volumes are expected on Parramatta Road, between Concord Road and Homebush Bay Drive and on Parramatta Road east of Ashfield until 2023 when the M4-M5 Link is anticipated to open. This increase in traffic has the potential to impact on access to businesses along these sections of road due to increased congestion. The additional traffic and the resultant increase in congestion are not considered likely to have a significant impact on businesses along these sections of Parramatta Road.’ (Appendix N, p. 7-6)
Management of impacts
This section describes how impacts will be ‘managed’ through engagement and defined actions.
Ongoing stakeholder engagement
‘Stakeholder and community involvement in program planning and ongoing environmental management would be key to avoiding, minimising and mitigating the social impacts of the project’
Editor: What is their record so far?
‘The framework would ensure that local residents, businesses and workers are provided timely and clear information about local changes and the progress of construction and operation. Project communication would need to consider the cultural and linguistic diversity in the project area, so that project information is communicated effectively’
Editor: Emphasis added – what has been their record on this so far? There have been many community complaints about this
‘The [community consultation] framework should also provide opportunities for local communities and specific key stakeholders, discussed in the social impact assessment, to have input into the development and refinement of construction management plans, and for the use and management of residual lands on operation. The -framework would also provide for community feedback or monitoring by telephone and online.’ (Chapter 14, p. 30)
Editor: What has been experience so far of this?
Management of impacts specific to social or economic impacts
Construction phase (see Appendix M, pp. 96-98 and Appendix N, p. 7-9)
- Property acquisition (relevant legislation and documentation cited, relocation support services, WestConnex Assist counselling program continued, first language support promoted)
Editor: Have these things happened? If not should be spelled out in submissions
- Relocation (assistance is to be provided to those forced to relocate)
Editor:How effective is this? Does it exist?
- Access and connectivity (construction traffic management plans developed, community communication strategy to be developed, relocation of Orphington Street bus stop, advertising bus stop changes locally and signage applied for motorists, ‘explore the options’ for pedestrian and cyclist connectivity along M4, develop car parking strategy, and notify local stakeholders of traffic management procedures)
Amenity – visual (local beautification and communication, consultation regarding public space use [residual land from construction], support of local community development activities)
Amenity (noise and vibration actions given in Chapter 11, visual given in Chapter 13 and air quality in Chapter 9)
Business impacts (acquire businesses under relevant legislation, business management plan developed, 24 hour project information line and website maintained to respond to business owners’ concerns)
Social infrastructure (‘consultation’ to continue to assist people to plan for and adapt to changes expected, emergency services will be notified of any traffic, access and route changes, alternative land will have to be found for the Cheil Church, Strathfield Council and Strathfield Girl Guides will be required to access temporary premises, Zongde Temple will need help finding both temporary and permanent site, Bill Boyce and Reg Coady reserves will have to be returned to at least pre-construction condition, consultation will be undertaken regarding respite periods for social infrastructure providers such as aged care and child care providers, Concord Oval and St Lukes Park users will be consulted)
During operation of M4E tunnel (see Appendix M, pp. 98-99 and Appendix N, p. 8-2)
- Access and connectivity (opportunities for pedestrian and cyclist accessibility explored, Transport for NSW consulted regarding improved pedestrian access at Concord Road Interchange with a focus on bus stops)
Amenity – noise and vibration (long-term impacts addressed through community grants given to councils or local community groups)
Amenity – visual (local beautification of operational facilities, community events, ‘legacy projects’ and tree planting)
Editor:What are legacy projects?
- Acquisition (carry out acquisition under relevant legislation)