The high-profile owners of Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter could pay for a metro station at the precinct in return for development rights and an extended lease, as Sydney Metro examines the feasibility of an eastward extension of the planned Metro West.
EQ chairman Tony Shepherd said it was “within the realm of possibility” the consortium could finance a station that would serve the Entertainment Quarter and Moore Park’s sports grounds, though there have been no discussions with government.
Venture capitalist Mark Carnegie, one of the key investors, also said the consortium was interested in potentially funding a station. “We’re economically rational people, and we want to help the state grow,” he said. “We don’t have to do all of it, we can figure it out.”
Shepherd noted the former Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust, which he chaired, called for a metro station at the stadium precinct in 2018 in submissions regarding the then redevelopment of Sydney Football Stadium.
“We originally put a proposal that the metro should go through Moore Park, and it should pick up the University of NSW at the same time,” Shepherd said. “They decided to go the other direction.”
But an eastward extension of the Westmead to Hunter Street metro line is back on the agenda after an independent review recommended Sydney Metro urgently provide advice to government on the feasibility and cost of such a project.
The government has not ruled out cancelling Metro West altogether if it decides the project has become too expensive, even though tunnelling is under way and about $8 billion has been spent. Premier Chris Minns says he is exploring ways of raising more revenue for the scheme, including private capital.
An eastward extension would most likely run south from the CBD to the high-density suburb of Zetland, where Green Square station is already under pressure. Such a route would run close to Moore Park and the Entertainment Quarter.
The consortium Carsingha, which has a lease over the Entertainment Quarter until 2036, has been lobbying for an extension before it plunges billions into redeveloping the former Showground site. Prominent investors include Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey, venture capitalist Mark Carnegie and businessman John Singleton.
Entertainment Quarter chief executive Sam Romaniuk said a metro station would be a “game changer”, but the group would need to have serious conversations about potential financing. “If you’re going to put one at Sydney Olympic Park you’ve got to put one at Moore Park,” he said.
The precinct is now served by light rail connections to the CBD, Randwick and Kingsford. But in the 2018 submission for the SCG Trust, Shepherd said a metro station would be a “step-change in transport and access” compared to the tram.
“Further, an SCG/SFS stop would link directly to the proposed stop at Zetland, providing the easiest of access for the rapidly growing residential population of Green Square,” he wrote at the time.
The Herald sought comment from Planning Minister Paul Scully and Transport Minister Jo Haylen. In a statement, a spokesperson for Haylen noted the interim Sydney Metro review recommended exploring the feasibility, value for money, alignment and station options of the potential eastern extension of Metro West.
“We’ll explore these options at the appropriate time,” the statement said. “What the government won’t be doing is announcing new stations or extensions without doing the work to get it right.”
As well as taking years, any eastern extension beyond the proposed Hunter Street terminus would cost billions of dollars, and the government has repeatedly stressed the project has already blown out from $16 billion to $25 billion and beyond.
But senior Labor MPs including federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and NSW Local Government Minister Ron Hoenig have lobbied for the extension, as has Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. The full metro review is due by the end of the year.
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.