WestConnex demolition homes 'looted' for heritage items

Issue 
A house in Haberfield is gutted in preparation for demolition for WestConnex.

Heritage items from homes in the inner west suburbs of Ashfield and Haberfield are being sold off by private contractors prior to the demolition of houses to make way for the controversial WestConnex tollway.

Contractors employed to demolish the homes are being allowed to sell valuable items including tiles, bricks, light fittings and leadlight doors and windows, according to the July 12 Inner West Courier.

Haberfield Association spokesperson Vince Crow compared the ransacking of the houses to medieval times, when soldiers from conquering armies were given licence to "loot" hapless villages. He said the promise to salvage items for re-use was not happening.

"Houses are being demolished, but there is no transparency as to what happens to their components."

Crow said Haberfield Conservation Area was covered by a Local Environmental Plan, and as such historic items should be salvaged and re-used.

Heritage items from the Federation era, as found in these suburbs, which are in good condition, can sell for thousands of dollars. Residents of the area are outraged that this form of officially sanctioned vandalism is continuing unchecked.

Meanwhile, the Baird state government is surveying Sydney motorists to test the limits of what they will accept in road tolls, as it investigates implementing consistent distance-based tolling across the Sydney network.

Market research firm TNS Social Research is being paid more than $200,000 to undertake “customer market testing” to help Transport NSW formulate “an approach to tolling and price levels”. This comes as the government prepares to reintroduce a toll for drivers on the M4 between Parramatta and Homebush to help finance WestConnex.

The market testing coincides with mounting evidence that drivers will simply move to free roads to avoid paying the tolls on the WestConnex, which is due for completion in 2023.

The environmental impact statement for the M4 widening project found that the reintroduction of a toll on the M4 was likely to push motorists onto alternative free routes such as Parramatta Road and Victoria Road.

In November last year, similar findings were made in the EIS for another section of WestConnex, the new M5 tunnel between Beverley Hills and St Peters.

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