Residents in bid to stop shopping centre expansion


Local residents in Marrickville are opposing the proposed expansion of Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre. The Metro Watch group has developed a website, held information stalls, collected signatures on petitions, door-knocked the local area, and held protests.

The effectiveness of this local campaign was demonstrated by the fact that a full-page ad promoting the expansion appeared on the second page of the September 2 Inner West Courier.

The centre’s owner, AMP Capital Investors, plans to increase the floor space by 115%, the parking space by 65% and to add an extra level. The proposal also includes the purchase of a section of Smidmore Street and expanding the centre across the street.

Metro Watch said: “AMP Capital has decided to bypass the locally elected councillors by applying straight to the State Government. It can do this because the NSW Labor Government introduced a controversial pro-developer law called Part 3A.

“Under this law the Minister for Planning makes the decision instead of the local council. The community is effectively bypassed in this process and appeals to a decision are severely restricted.”

Metro Watch is opposed to the purchase of Smidmore Street, the prospect of increased traffic — including more delivery trucks — and increased noise and air pollution. The group is concerned about the removal of fig trees and the adverse effect on existing shopping strips in Marrickville, Enmore and Newtown.

On August 14, 200 people rallied against the expansion, including Marrickville mayor Sam Iskander, Greens MP Sylvia Hale, deputy mayor Fiona Byrne and councillor Peter Olive.

Metro Watch announced plans for more protests, including car cavalcades around the shopping centre on Saturdays.

The Marrickville Chamber of Commerce has bought 100 banners calling for “no metro expansion”. They are available free for households wishing to display them.

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The proposed Metro shopping centre will forever change the character of the area if allowed to go ahead. It's not too late to have your say and object to it. The revised plans are on public exhibition at the Dept of Planning website and people have until Friday 18 March 2011 to submit their objections stating how this massive and unwanted expansion will negatively impact the character and amenity of the area for the whole community, and will only benefit the pockets of its owners AMP Capital. The original proposal last year generated 576 submissions - 549 opposed the expansion and only 27 supported it. In addition there was a petition of nearly 5,000 to stop it. Local community group Metro Watch volunteers conducted a door knock survey of 1,500 households in the area near the Metro – the majority of respondents were either not aware of the plans because they had not been consulted or informed, or they were confused by the information dished out by Metro representatives and thought it was a “renovation” not a huge expansion. It is apparent that the community does not want or need this over-development that is being forced on them by AMP Capital via the controversial Part 3A planning legislation. People want a community not a shopping mall!