Determined: Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali wants to build towers to sabotage the second airport at Badgerys Creek. Photo: Fairfax-Media-Australia Anti-airport: Stephen Bali has invited developers to build 90-storey towers in the heart of Blacktown. Photo: Phyllis Macgraw
A western Sydney mayor’s scheme to sabotage the building of the new airport at Badgerys Creek by advocating building new apartment buildings up to 90 storeys high to block planes’ routes has outraged neighbouring councils.
“The only real way 90-storey buildings would stop planes would be if you built them actually on the runway,” said Penrith mayor Ross Fowler. “And, in any case, if you were against the airport, it would be better to put up logical, sensible arguments rather than this stupidity.”
Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali said on Tuesday he was inviting property developers into his area to build massive towers in the hope of scuppering the airport. He feels the planes will be too noisy and will disturb locals at night.
On Wednesday Mr Bali told Domain: “If that’s what it takes to make people think again about the airport, then I’d welcome any developers contacting me.”
“I’ve already had a number come to me since then about proposing 20 storeys or more, but if anyone comes up with a 90-storey building, we’re happy to go through all the planning processes,” he said.
“We don’t want four million people living around the airport being subjected to 24-7 noise.”
But his words have brought condemnation from fellow mayors in western Sydney. Mr Fowler said: “Everyone recognises the benefits of the airport in terms of the investment and job opportunities and the chance for people to work closer to home.”
Liverpool mayor Ned Mannoun said Mr Bali’s comments show why such decisions “should be left to the experts, rather than politicians”.
“Our council is 100 per cent in favour of the airport because of the investment and jobs it will bring,” Mr Mannoun said.
“At the moment, 70 per cent of the workforce have to travel outside the local government area to go to work, which is unsustainable.
“This airport will bring us a lot of economic benefits.”
Such massive towers would be equally unwelcome in Campbelltown, says its mayor, Paul Lake.
While he feels the airport at Badgerys Creek should have a night curfew, like Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport, and there should be a trial of flights 24-7 in Sydney before allowing them in western Sydney, he said the airport is already decided.
“It’s going to happen but we want to safeguard the quality of life of the residents,” he said. “And as for 90-storey towers … I’d be buried alive if we were to agree to that!”
Even where such lofty towers are actually being proposed and debated – in Parramatta – the mayor Scott Lloyd is unsympathetic. By the time the plans actually got through anywhere else, the airport could be operational, he said.
“It’s ludicrous to say that,” he said. “There’s already legislation in place stopping new developments in the flight path anyway. And we are looking forward to Western Sydney Airport. We’ll benefit with jobs, infrastructure, satellite industries, services transport, logistics …”
Mr Bali’s remarks have, however, drawn attention to local reservations about possible noise problems for western Sydney, believes Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone. “If people in Blacktown, 20km away, are going to be so impacted, then what about the noise levels for those closer to the airport?” he said.
“I’m in favour of the airport, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions, like the noise, infrastructure, grants to improve the acoustics for people’s homes, and the need for better community consultation. But I’m not supportive of 90-storey buildings that, in my view, will bring the slums of the future.”
That’s not to say developers would be so eager to build 90-storey blocks in Blacktown, either. Developer Theo Groutsis of Better Buildings, which has already developed apartments in the area, such as the 20-level Centralis tower, is unmoved by Mr Bali’s comments.
“We don’t make decisions based on stopping things going ahead,” he said. “We make them on economic viability and whether a lot of factors stack up.”
Tony Hadchiti, the president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, also says such towers should be built only when they’re needed.
“We should be planning our cities based on what our cities cater for, not saying we want buildings to stop airports,” he said. “Both sides of government have committed to this airport and we should allow the process to take place. This is set to be the biggest game-changer for western Sydney.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.