Homeowners find properties in path of future rail, road projects

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The owners of about 400 homes in outer parts of Sydney face the prospect of acquisition in coming years after the state government released plans to reserve corridors for four major rail and road projects, including a train line to the new airport at Badgerys Creek.

A further 800 properties – about 160 of which are already in government hands – ranging from small rural blocks to larger farms also fall within the new corridors which extend for a total of 192 kilometres in the city’s outer west.

The corridors are for a north-south rail line linking the new Western Sydney Airport to existing train lines, an outer orbital motorway from Box Hill in the north to Menangle in the south, a western Sydney freight line, and a road link known as the Castlereagh Connection from the M7 tollroad to the Bells Line of Road.

The plans to gazette corridors has also led to the release of more details about the projects, just two weeks after the state and federal governments agreed to a $100-million business case to investigate station sites for a rail link from St Marys to the new airport.

It reveals a tunnel for the train line would be dug from Orchard Hills to St Marys, where it would connect to the T1 Western Line. A later extension of the north-south rail line would also comprise a tunnel between Oran Park and Macarthur.

Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres said affected owners would have a chance once the corridors had been gazetted to purse “owner-activated” acquisitions if they decided they did not want to remain in their homes knowing that a road or train line was likely to eventually be built.

“Some of these projects will be built in the near term – like the airport rail line – and some of these projects won’t be built for many, many years, and in some cases decades,” he said.

The plan released by the state government.

The plan released by the state government.

Photo: NSW Government

But Labor’s Londonderry MP Prue Car said people were wary of the plans for the corridors after the poor handling of compulsory property acquisitions in Sydney’s inner west for the WestConnex toll road.

“People are getting their letters hand delivered today to their homes, which is causing a lot of concern for people,” she said.

Daniel Grima, who owns a four-bedroom house at Shanes Park in Sydney’s north west, said he feared the value of his home would fall as a result of it being placed within the corridor for the outer orbital motorway.

The NSW Government has signalled 199 dwellings will have to make way for land it has reserved for road and rail projects. Vision courtesy: Seven News.

The NSW Government has signalled 199 dwellings will have to make way for land it has reserved for road and rail projects. Vision courtesy: Seven News.

“Who is going to want to buy a property in the corridor? It comes as a shock,” he said.

However, Mr Ayres said part of “this acquisition program” was about ensuring that the value of affected properties was protected. The outer Sydney orbital was “unlikely to be developed for many, many years”, and parts of it, not for decades.

“But it is critically important that we recognise that we need to reserve those corridors now. We have already seen in places like Oran Park what happens when you do not reserve corridors,” he said.

He cited the cost of the $8.3 billion northwest metro rail line between Rouse Hill and Chatswood, which was more expensive because corridors had not been reserved years ago.

In an attempt to allay concerns, Mr Ayres said any acquisitions of properties by the state for the four road and rail projects in western Sydney would occur only in the lead up to construction.

“What is scaring people across western Sydney right now is not knowing where these corridors are. We want to be able to tell people where these road and rail lines will go into the future,” he said.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/homeowners-find-properties-in-path-of-future-rail-road-projects-20180326-p4z68z.html

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