Attn: Secretary, re: WestConnex M4/M5 EIS, Project Number SSI 16_7485.
This submission of objection from Labour History Sydney addresses the adverse
implications of Westconnex for Sydney’s industrial heritage, emerging from the
M4-M5 Link Environmental Impact Statement, Stage 3 of the project.
Westconnex Stages 1 and 2 have already resulted in the demolition or erosion of
much of Sydney’s industrial history/ heritage. The City of Sydney submission of
January 2016 identified and raised concerns over a number of industrial sites:
some heritage-listed and several now gone – including the old Ruddings Bond
Store on Campbell Road. The Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) clearly either
does not recognise or does not value this class of heritage. We submit that the
heritage value of industrial buildings and precincts, including factories and
workshops, is as integral to the character of the City as are buildings more
conventionally understood as offering ‘beauty’ and elegance in heritage. ‘Heritage’
helps us understand and interpret the past and provide urban integrity and context
for the city. To destroy this for roads and work sites is a breach of public trust and
obligation. As has been said elsewhere, Westconnex is a 1950s transport
‘solution’, utterly inappropriate to Sydney as a 21st century World City.
In this submission, our immediate concern is the Pyrmont Bridge Road mid-tunnel
site, and in particular Bignell Lane. Regarding non-Aboriginal heritage and history,
and as historical newspapers show (for example, see the National Library’s Trove
site at http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/71336597/5323926) Camperdown
is an old settlement and a once intensively industrial area of Sydney, with factories
and tile works. Settlement is confirmed by the early presence of the still existing
Camperdown School on Parramatta Road. Many of those factories have now been
demolished, or more lately converted into apartments. Bignell Lane is therefore
highly significant in that it offers an intact precinct of early 20th century
warehouses and works buildings. We note that neither Chapter 20 of the EIS (Non-
Aboriginal Heritage) nor Chapter 21 (Aboriginal Heritage) address Industrial
Heritage issues; accordingly the heritage built environment of Bignell Lane and
surrounds seems to be dismissed as of no consequence. We object to this shortfall
in heritage considerations and ask that it be redressed.
Further, street frontages in the immediate area still offer a sound historical context
for people living and working in Camperdown. This context should be maintained
and conserved. A close reading of the EIS makes it very apparent that the precinct
will either be compromised or demolished as a result of the mid-tunnel works. We
object to this likely outcome, and to associated demolition plans for the
Camperdown site and surrounds stated or implied in the EIS.
Sadly, the destruction of Haberfield as a heritage-listed listed suburb demonstrated
the failure of the SMC and Government to respect, or even to comprehend, the
essential social, historical and architectural importance of heritage. We do hope,
following the public outcry over the vandalism in Haberfield, that the SMC and
Government have taken on board that identified and potential heritage-listings
must be conserved in any so-called ‘urban renewal’ or roads remodelling.
In total, we object to the absence of industrial heritage guidelines and concerns in
Westconnex parameters. We regret the destruction which has taken place in
implementation to date. We seek precise answers to a) what ‘existing structures
including buildings’ will be demolished and b) the exact nature of the ‘permanent
realignment’ of Bignell Lane.
We ask that our submission be taken into account in the changes which must be
made to the current plans. As a next step to this round of EIS Stage 3
submissions, we request an urgent meeting with the relevant parties to present our
expert view on the issues.
We urge the Secretary of NSW Planning to advise the Minister to reject this EIS, to
publish our name and submission in accordance with the undertaking on your
website, to note each of our observations on process to date as objections to
process and outcome, and to provide a written response to each of our objections.
Dr Rosemary Webb (President), Ms Danny Blackman (Secretary), Professor Lucy
Taksa (member, former President), for Labour History Sydney (Sydney Branch,
Australian Society for the Study of Labour History);
PO Box 1027, Newtown NSW 2042
15 October 2017