MELBOURNE, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Seoul, Berlin … cities all around the world are rediscovering their rivers. The River Thames in London, once known as the “great sewer”, is undergoing a huge transformation, including the development of an architect-designed outdoor bathing centre.
A kick-starter project has proposed a swimming pool in New York’s Hudson River. Even in Lagos, Nigeria, a floating school uses the waterways as a sustainable way of educating the underprivileged.
Governments everywhere are turning stormwater drains into streams — except in Liverpool, where it seems we would rather do the reverse and turn southwest Sydney’s beautiful Georges River into an industrial wasteland with a massive intermodal freight terminal at Moorebank.
It will bring the noise, the pollution, the trucks and the trains from the east and dump it all in the west. You just have to look at the experience of residents in and around Port Botany to see the calamity caused by freight terminals.
Yes we need them. Yes they are a vital national infrastructure crucial to our economic capacity, in fact we are open to having one here in the southwest, but why does it need to be on prime riverfront land?
Using riverfront land for industry and freight is 19th-century thinking.
The old industrial suburbs around Homebush — Rhodes, Concord and Breakfast Point — have all moved away from industry and freight on the riverside towards residential and recreational land use.
The southwest is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia and Sydney is facing a housing crisis
Where the famous Mortlake Gas Works once dominated the landscape, young families now stroll along the banks of a resurgent Parramatta River.
In the city of opportunity, the aspirational capital of Australia, why can’t we have the riverfront restaurants of Sydney Harbour, the leafy green walks of Balmain or the picture perfect water view of Hunters Hill? Especially when the economic, social and environmental benefits to all are so clear.
Decades ago, when Moorebank was planned as the site for the intermodal terminal, Sydney was not facing a housing crisis and cities didn’t value their rivers like we do now. In Liverpool, the city centre is a stone’s throw from the Georges River but historically it has been overlooked and undervalued.
But times have changed. The southwest is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia and Sydney is facing a housing crisis.
An independent land valuation of the proposed intermodal’s location puts the site at $482 million. If developed into premium riverside homes the site has the potential to house up to 40,000 people near transport and amenities and become Liverpool’s most valuable and sought-after real estate.
We are not Nimbys — we want southwest Sydney to grow. If anything demonstrates this simple fact it is the way we have embraced the Badgerys Creek Airport, which has majority support from local residents.
We are excited and optimistic about what lies before us. Western Sydney is proud to be the future infrastructure capital of the world. Badgerys Creek Airport is a game changer, not just for the economic growth it will bring but for what it means for the intermodal proposal at Moorebank.
Only Badgerys Creek has the potential to be a true intermodal for road, rail and air. It’s an area that is big enough to handle the 1.1 million containers sought by the intermodal proposal, without being on prime riverfront land and constrained by residential development.
We are happy to have it, but we want to see it put in the location that makes the most sense. That location is not prime riverfront land.
Ned Mannoun is the mayor of Liverpool