Attention now turns from runways to roads

Federal cabinet could sign off on an airport at Badgerys Creek this week, with reports of a $200 million transport infrastructure package to support the project.

Western Sydney Airport Alliance spokesman David Borger said building roads to connect residents to the airport would be a fairly low-cost operation as the land was relatively undeveloped.

“Connecting an airport at Badgerys Creek to the close by South West Rail Link and the M7 Motorway will be an absolute bargain basement deal for Sydney,’’ he said.

Blacktown councillor Stephen Bali said the proposal was ‘‘an insult to western Sydney’’.

He said  an airport operating 24 hours with freight and an estimated 33 million passenger movements each year by 2050 would cause pandemonium on the roads.  

‘‘Average peak hour traffic currently moves at 17 km/h,’’ he said.

‘‘This airport proposal will cause a complete grid lock. The $200 million road budget will have a negligible effect.’’

In an open letter to the community,  Western Sydney Housing Coalition chairman Peter Butler said through effective planning, the rise in land values could be used to develop sustainable housing for low and middle income groups.

A Department of Infrastructure and Transport report which profiled the economic and social aspects of peotential sites late in 2012 states three of the four council areas surrounding the Badgerys Creek site — including Fairfield and Liverpool — have some of the highest levels of socio-economic disadvantage in the greater Sydney region.

“Now that an airport for Badgery’s Creek seems a certainty, it’s time to create the planning means to ensure that development following is in the interests of the whole community” he said.

Read Mr Butler's open letter to the community of Western Sydney, penned on February 7, below:

The prospect of a second airport in Sydney’s west will drive a much-needed expansion of jobs and lift the demand for housing in the region. Left to the market, the resulting rise in property values triggered by the state sponsored transformation of the west would fall to individuals.

The market of Mcmansions would blossom, extending a swathe of pricey and energy-inefficient homes in areas away from the projected flight path. Cheaper housing would come as an afterthought, knocked together and located in low-priced noise-affected areas.

This scenario would sentence thousands of working families to choose between a life-time of sleepless nights and intolerable day-time noise or lengthy commutes from distant suburbs and poor quality family time.

Fortunately, we do have the means to avoid the inscription of such inequity into the Sydney’s future western development. By coding housing development to encourage a substantial proportion of affordable housing for the future, Western Sydney can ensure that this growth maintains a balanced and sustainable social mix.

Quarantining a proportion of land for affordable housing projects now will save the prohibitive costs of later land purchases and provide the necessary affordable housing outcomes for coming years.

Good housing planning may bring further benefits for Sydney as a whole. Professor Phil O’Neill has shown us how development in the west can create local jobs to eliminate huge volumes of east-west travel.

Housing near the developing airport can be situated in the areas forecasted to have low noise, continuing the logic of federal government land purchases which means that, if a new airport was built at Badgery’s Creek tomorrow, less that 400 households would be badly affected by noise.

Such housing as will be subject to noise can be coded to ensure effective noise amelioration and liveable environments. The desired 24 hour foreshadowed operation may be reviewed in light of the negligible benefit of night time operation and the considerable social impact cost.

Now that an airport for Badgery’s Creek seems a certainty, it is time to create the planning means to ensure that development following is in the interests of the whole community. 

We call for a broad public discussion on the means to take up the opportunity offered by the prospective airport and related infrastructure development. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure the provision of secure, sustainable and liveable housing for the increase in numbers of low and middle income groups that are sure to be residing in Sydney’s west in coming years.

The Western Sydney Housing Coalition and Western Sydney Community Forum are  planning a public forum in late March to consider the opportunities and challenges for affordable housing presented by the development of Badgerys Creek airport.

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