MDEIA RELEASE 06/08/2014
The Darlinghurst Business Partnership supports Mayoral minute requesting removal of Oxford St clearways
At the 28th July City of Sydney Council meeting, Lord Mayor Clover Moore set a mayoral minute and will officially request the Roads Minister remove the clearways along Oxford Street. In addition to the removal of the clearways, the Lord Mayor will also request that bus lanes be moved to the centre of the road and that the speed limit be reduced to 40 km/h. The Darlinghurst Business Partnership strongly supports this action from the Lord Mayor, and are thrilled that council are listening to the needs and suggestions from the local area on this issue, and thus supporting the proper re-activation of Oxford St as a cultural and commercial hub in Sydney.
In recent years, there has been a marked downturn in trade all along Oxford Street as a result of the GFC, the increase in online retail and by the opening of Westfield shopping centres at either end of the iconic street. For a long time, businesses (and residents) from both City of Sydney and Woollahra Council have identified the removal of the clearways as a crucial aspect of successfully combating the problems faced by Oxford Street. It must be noted that the City of Sydney has invested millions of dollars to aid in the revival of Oxford Street, including footpath and lighting upgrades, more seating and greenery and investments in public artworks. Oxford Street boasts new galleries, artist studios and creative enterprises, giving people a greater reason to visit this precinct and contribute to its diversity and vibrancy. However, for any of these initiatives to have the desired impact, there must be an acknowledgement that without convenient parking available, visitors simply will not be drawn to the area in the numbers they would be otherwise.
One of the oppositional stances taken by those wanting to keep the clearways is that it will increase traffic congestion. However, with a measured reduction in traffic numbers of 22% since 2005, the 6 lanes of Oxford Street are not even close to capacity – even during rush hour. It is strongly suggested by the 1 year trail of the reduced clearways in Paddington that the road will not suffer problematic congestion if the clearways are permanently removed.
The DBP also supports a fundamental change in attitude towards this issue – it ought not be a question of pro-car and anti-car, rather a question of destination traffic versus through-traffic. The 2005 Oxford St Upgrade saw the RMS effectively designate Oxford Street as Traffic Gateway, much to the detriment of local business. Without convenient parking options shoppers will continue to bypass Oxford Street in favour of one of the Westfield complexes or the CBD. The clearways actively drive revenue and shoppers away from the area and dramatically reduce pedestrian amenity. For Oxford Street to regain its rightful place as a commercial hotspot in this city destination traffic should be encouraged and the requisite parking provided.
The Darlinghurst Business Partnership represents local businesses of all kinds and recognises that Sydney needs to nurture and promote the Meta Village of East Sydney, as identified in the City of Sydney’s Economic Development Strategy. An International Sydney needs its fine grain village culture to thrive if it is going to attract and retain local and global talent and tourists. The DBP has long supported the removal of the clearways and backs the Lord Mayor completely in her endeavours to make it a reality.
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For more information on the Darlinghurst Business Partnership please visit www.dbp.org.au