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The owner of one Sydney’s premier racecourses is making a last-ditch plea for a station to be added to the Metro West rail line near Parramatta, weeks before crucial findings from a review into the $25 billion project will be released.
The Australian Turf Club says it will fully support any move by the state government to build a metro station at Camellia, near the Rosehill Racecourse, to replace the heavy rail station bulldozed for a light rail stop three years ago.
The turf club owns more than nine hectares of surplus land including car parking near Rosehill Racecourse.Credit: Rhett Wyman
The club was open to the government constructing a station on the surplus land it owns near the racecourse so long as it did not disrupt racing at the venue, a spokesman said. In return, the ATC would want a significant increase in allowable building density on its land near the Parramatta River.
However, the ATC has emphasised that it is staunchly opposed to building a station on the racecourse itself. Rosehill and Randwick Racecourse are Sydney’s two primary racetracks.
The turf club has met with a team led by former federal transport bureaucrat Mike Mrdak, who was commissioned by the Minns government to scrutinise Sydney’s metro rail projects. The review team’s final report is due to be released later this month.
Mayors, universities, large property owners and developers have been jostling for extra stations on the 24-kilometre Metro West line between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta. If additional stations are built, Camellia-Rosehill and Silverwater are considered the most likely locations at the western end of the line, while Zetland is the leading contender in the east.
The ATC also owns the Rosehill bowling club, pictured centre right, on the opposite side of James Ruse Drive to the racecourse.Credit: Rhett Wyman
Parramatta’s newly elected lord mayor, Pierre Esber, said Metro West needed to deliver on its potential to connect communities like Camellia and Newington, which the council has repeatedly argued should have stations. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It would be madness to waste it,” he said.
A compelling feature of the surplus land owned by the ATC is that it is the least contaminated of properties in Camellia-Rosehill, which was home to heavy industry for decades.
More than nine hectares of the ATC’s surplus land comprises car parking near the racecourse’s northwestern corner and a bowling green on the opposite side of James Ruse Drive.
The ATC also made its case for a station at Camellia in a letter to NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen several months ago, telling her it would benefit the surrounding community by supporting extra housing and job opportunities. The turf club urged the government to consider the establishment of a Metro West station at Camellia as a priority.
Under the existing plans, the underground rail line will curve under the southwest side of the racecourse and onto a station site in the Parramatta CBD. A stabling and maintenance facility for the Metro West train is under construction just south of the racecourse.
Any change to the planned alignment of the line through Camellia will present challenges. The stations need straight platforms for the driverless trains and alterations to the line’s alignment are likely to require a renegotiation of contracts with a Laing O’Rourke-Gamuda consortium, which is building the tunnels for the project’s western section.
A spokesman for Haylen said the government would consider recommendations of the review before making any further decisions on Metro West.
A seven-kilometre stretch of the line between Parramatta and Olympic Park will easily be the longest section without a station under the existing plans. Camellia has long been touted as a potential site for a station, but the previous government decided against it due to contamination and flooding posing major construction challenges.
The ATC is part of the Camellia Landowners Alliance, which was formed by developer Billbergia. Members of the alliance own more than 35 hectares of land at Camellia.
The alliance has long pushed for a station in an area to the north of the racecourse earmarked for the Camellia town centre.
However, former transport minister Andrew Constance has said a station should be built at the high-density inner-city suburb of Zetland before Camellia.
Constance, who decided against Camellia as a station site when he was minister, has warned that the cost of remediating land there will be significant. He doubted that developers would be able to cover even half the cost of a station, which is likely to surpass $500 million.
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