Angry residents have demanded answers from Transport for NSW over the Bells Line of Road - Castlereagh Corridor proposal at an information session held at North Richmond.
About 250 people attended the first session that started at 3.30pm at the North Richmond Community Centre, organised for residents directly affected by the plans. A second session held from 6pm to 8pm provided information for the general community, and was attended by similar numbers over the course of the evening.
The hall was packed with residents and parking was at a premium by the scheduled start of the session, and residents from Castlereagh, Kurrajong Hills, Kurrajong Heights and Yarramundi were in attendance.
Transport for NSW operated the session as an open meeting format from about 4pm, allowing residents to ask questions from the floor which were answered by officials.
The meeting was heated at times as attendees demanded to know exactly how long the corridor had been planned in the Hawkesbury area, why residents had been granted development applications to build in the so-called red zone where the road is due to go, and why residents knew nothing of the proposal until March 26.
Transport for NSW officials told the crowd the process was “the start of the conversation” on the road corridor, and that they were “here to listen” to resident concerns.
However, many residents affected by the proposal told the Gazette they felt the information session was simply “ticking the box on consultation with the community” and that the gazettal of the road corridor was inevitable.
Yarramundi resident Julie, who did not wish her last name to be published, said the newly-built house that she and her husband are about to receive the keys to was now located in the middle of the road.
“Myself and two neighbours purchased the land no more than two years ago, we were given DAs to build brand new homes and we are about to get our keys this week,” she said.
“We asked council if they knew of it [the road proposal] and they said they found out the same time as we did, on March 26.
“We should not have been allowed to build.
“We’ve got a one-on-one session [with Transport for NSW] next week, but I don’t hold much hope.
“We were never consulted, they just count these meetings as consultation. I understand they need to acquire land for motorways, it’s just the way it was done – we never received the opportunity to get out and go somewhere else. We were looking at different blocks of land at the same time [as we were looking at Yarramundi] but they took the option away from us. Our decision on a block would have been swayed had we had known.
“We should be excited about moving into a new home, but all we are doing is talking about this every day.”