In an effort to quell some of the swelling community concerns about the potential disruptiveness of the planned Parramatta light rail project, the NSW Government has given a guarantee that construction will not commence until at least 2020.
Businesses on Parramatta’s premier shopping and eatery strip on Church Street have been looking upon the disruptions and delays that have beleaguered Sydney’s CBD and South East light rail project with concern, keen to avoid the situation currently facing their counterparts on George Street, where foot-traffic has diminished considerably.
State transport minister Andrew Constance said that by delaying construction until 2020 – initially planned to begin in late 2018 – the government was listening to the concerns of Parramatta business owners.
“We want to give businesses as much certainty as we can, and we have heard loud and clear that shops and eateries on Church Street would like as much time as possible to prepare for Parramatta light rail construction works,” Constance said.
“Our priority is to ensure local business owners have all the support they need well in advance of, and during, construction. These businesses need certainty so we are making a rock-solid commitment that construction will not start in this dining strip until 2020.”
Slated to open in 2023, Stage 1 of the Parramatta light rail will run 12-kilometres between Westmead and Carlingford via Parramatta CBD and Camellia.
The guarantee to not start construction until 2020 follows a period of community consultation, including surveys of local businesses and over 125 community information events.
Liberal MP for Parramatta Geoff Lee said that the government would be enabling free one-on-one business support development workshops and marketing and merchandising advice from a specialist support service. Business reference groups will also be established.
“Businesses will be provided plenty of notice about construction start dates once the
two major contracts for the project are signed by the end of the year,” Lee said.
Transport for NSW is reportedly investigating the possibility of a flexible
construction schedule on Church Street that would work around the street’s busiest trading times, weekends, early evenings and holidays.
Constance said that the construction of a light rail link in Parramatta would eventually present major opportunities for small businesses in the long term.
“Parramatta Light Rail will provide valuable new infrastructure which will improve access to businesses, and bring more people to this vibrant restaurant and café precinct,” he said.
“But building this major project through the heart of Parramatta is not without its challenges. We will ensure our contractors work to their scheduled program, maintain access to businesses and proactively manage any noisy or out-of-hours work.”