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Metro West ‘critical’ to success of Parramatta boom

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A $20 billion pipeline of public and private investment will power Parramatta into an economic, health and education powerhouse of Sydney over the next 20 years, a business forum has heard.

Led by the $3.2 billion Parramatta Square project and a $3 billion Westmead precinct upgrade, Parramatta is predicted to be the “beating heart” of the Greater Sydney Commission’s 40-year vision for a “Metropolis of Three Cities”.

Parramatta, which will be known as the Central River City, is shaking off the ‘westie’ tag as it transforms into a modern, vibrant city where 20,000 new jobs will be created in Australia’s biggest urban-renewal project.

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The annual State of the City address, run by Parramatta Chamber of Commerce since 2002, has heard how Millennials and migrants will play a greater role as the city’s population is expected to nearly double to 400,000 by 2036.

Keynote speakers zeroed in on one key, congestion-busting project — the Metro West — that would be critical to the success of not only a remodelled Parramatta but for Greater Sydney.

Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson predicted the Harbour City’s entire transport network would crash in the future if the State Government didn’t build the Metro West, a new underground rail line connecting Parramatta and Westmead to Sydney CBD in 20 minutes.

“Whatever the government spends (on the Metro West) today will mean it saves an absolute fortune in the future.”

The project, which would cost an estimated $25 billion, is likely to include stations at Westmead, Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, North Strathfield, Burwood North, Five Dock, The Bays Precinct and the city.

Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the government had already committed $6.4 billion to build the Metro West project.

“Construction will happen; it is fundamentally crucial to the success of this city,” Mr Ayres said.

However, the Federal Government is yet to commit any funding for the Metro West, which has angered business leaders.

Western Sydney Business Chamber executive director David Borger said it was “most significant infrastructure project in the country”.

Parramatta’s Top 5 Projects:

Parramatta Square: The Walker Corporation’s $3.2 billion project will transform the middle of Parramatta, with four towers across a 4ha site home to 20,000 workers.
Westmead Hospital: This is the biggest health infrastructure project in NSW. The government has committed more than $900 million to the Westmead redevelopment, including $750 million for the new hospital building.
Parramatta Light Rail, Stage 1: Expected to open in 2023, it will connect Westmead to Carlingford, via Parramatta CBD and Camellia.
Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences: The new Powerhouse Museum will form the centrepiece of a new arts and cultural precinct on the banks of the Parramatta River.
University of Sydney’s new Westmead campus: The $500 million plans will help rejuvenate the Old Cumberland Hospital site and comes as Western Sydney University also invests tens of millions of dollars into innovation upgrades in Parramatta.

Connecting to the Youth

Leading social researcher Mark McCrindle told the business leaders on Friday that older generations need to be dialled into how the Millennials and Gen Z (10-24 year olds) communicate.

Latest data shows the 64 per cent of residents in Parramatta are aged between 20 and 49. The median age is 34, four years younger than the national average, and 55 per cent of residents are born overseas.

“We’ve got to understand how younger people think,” he said. “Parramatta is at the crossroads of growth — and this is very important.”

Mr McCrindle, author of Guide to Communication in the 21st Century, said Millennials would be at the forefront of how the region was shaped in the next decade as half of the workforce was now born after 1980.

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Bring the beat back

David Borger, Western Sydney Business Chamber executive director said it was “time” for a revival of Parramatta’s once-vibrant night-life.

“There’s barely anything here; we’ve got to get it back,” Mr Borger told business leaders on Friday.

He also called on the government to allocate more funding for arts and culture in western Sydney.

“A great city needs great cultural opportunities,” he said, before adding that bulk of arts funding had traditionally gone to groups “within a couple of kilometres of the Sydney GPO”.

On a brighter note, he said the arrival of the new Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta by 2023 and the North Parramatta heritage-core makeover would be a boon for the west’s arts and cultural industry.

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Full article originally published in the Parramatta Advertiser June 24, 2019.