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David Hill: more questions than answers. David Hill: more questions than answers.
04 November 2017 Posted by 

COMMENT: More than ever, we need a business voice in Parramatta

DAVID HILL
NOW in Parramatta we need an independent voice for business more than ever before.
With more than $22B worth of construction currently underway we need to make sure that the cost to individuals and to small operators is not too high.
 
Will our small businesses survive when the hoardings have been up for two years while 20 major projects are concurrently underway? We applaud the light rail, but would rather it serviced our current workers and visitors to the north and south before giving a leg up to developers in the east.
 
Will our great heritage precincts be sold off for residential development? Urban Growth did not even make a master plan for our Fleet Street precinct and the Female Factory.
 
Would Macquarie Street and the Hyde Park Barracks ever get the same treatment?
 
Will our customers be able to find a carpark when 800 spaces are taken by the light rail, the public carparks demolished and the cost of on-street parking more than doubles? 
 
Council and the State Government need to understand that Parramatta is the major service centre for Western Sydney. 
 
If there are no decent public transport options, people still need to drive to visit their lawyer, accountant, doctor, dentist, training organisation, restaurant and specialist retailer.
 
Will the eyesores at the gateways ever be fixed? It has been many years since the building on the corner of Church Street and Victoria Road was abandoned and let fall apart.
 
We need to find a way.
 
Will our streets continue to look like abstract paintings covered in construction graffiti? Will we ever invest in systems that allow easy access to utility services (and stop our parks and streets from being constantly dug up)? 
 
The light rail is an excellent opportunity to start this process. Lobby with us to get utility services in trenches.
 
Will we ever develop our own events? The Laneways Festival is great but Parramatta is a circus venue for the Sydney Festival while we hide our creative people in windowless buildings!
 
Sometimes when Governments try and fix things they create problems. The placement of the new tolls on the M4 just after the Church Street exit heading east has caused long delays and major congestion at one of our most important gateways. 
 
Maybe it will lesson over time, but maybe the State Government could have listened to locals warn that the exit ramp needed upgrading as part of the development in the first place.
 
Parramatta is a complex place. We have a new Mayor, ostensibly independent, but doing a last minute deal to win power. To talk with the State Government sometimes we have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. We have to insist on competitive neutrality (and transparency) so that the State Government doesn’t just sign deals with its own departments. 
 
But enough….we need to celebrate too. There is to be a great new museum and stadium being built that will help change the way we see ourselves, that will attract visitors and that will provide a new focus for activity along the river. Parramatta is a great place to be and a great place to do business.
 
If you would like to talk about these issues please visit us at our new offices at Level 1, 111 Phillip Street, Parramatta or send me an email at dhill@parramattachamber.com.au
 
David Hill is President of the Parramatta Chamber of Commerce.
 
 


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