WestConnex - friend or foe ?
A lot has been said and written already about this major new motorway that will pour through the heart of the Inner West. Obviously, many local residents in the most affected suburbs such as Haberfield and St.Peters have expressed their horror at such a massive disruption to what are currently quiet well established residential precincts.
There is no doubt that the existence of this road will direct a huge amount of traffic into once fairly sedate regions of the Inner West.
But at what cost ? Or the more important question I would pose, at what opportunity ?
You see the universe is kind of like that. One man's flood tends to be another man's famine and over the course of the next ten years as this major piece of infrastructure gets built and then used we will see both a positive and negative result.
Now I am purely speaking with my real estate agent's hat on. My focus in this article will solely be on property values and not the enjoyment and amenity of the regions affected. I know there are many long term residents who see this freeway as the worst thing to happen in their area since they have lived there.
So what will be the effect on property prices ?
Well, my best guess (even if it is educated it is still a guess) is that similar to the M5,M7 and M2 highways of the nineties and more recently, there will definitely be an initial period of loss or negative growth as West Connex goes through its slow and painful process of construction.
Road closures, cranes, earth moving equipment, craters, dirt, dust and noise will all combine to turn many parts of the Inner West into building sites and aesthetic eyesores for many years. This generally has a very negative effect on buyers. It's the equivalent of taking an interested purchaser in an off the plan development directly down on site to where they are currently being built rather than a stage-managed display suite well away from the action which paints the picture so compellingly of what it will look like completed.
Seeing is believing and many people considering living in areas affected by West Connex will think twice based on what their eyes tell them when traveling to and from the area. Only the shrewdest of shrewd investors will get in first, speculating that once in operation these precincts will be more in demand rather than less.
And they will be right in my opinion. Did anyone remember what suburbs like Padstow and Riverwood were like before the M5 was around ? Or even the existence of Bella Vista or Macquarie Park before the M7 or M2 cam along ? I do. They were considered backwaters out in the boondocks which were too remote and unattractive to consider buying in. Fast forward less than ten years after their respective freeways were completed and these places have boomed well beyond anyone's expectations.
Sydney is only getting bigger and busier. Our nett immigration has been an unstoppable juggernaut over the last fifteen years since the Olympics and the last time I checked we have only grown geographically in a fairly restricted way. Due to the unique and attractive position of this fair city the only realistic way to create more new dwellings is to go up or out - and when it comes to out, going west young man is the sole option.
You see if you go east last time I checked there's a little thing called the Pacific Ocean blocking your way, similarly north and south both have significant National Parks providing natural boundaries. So that leaves just west, be it North-west, south-west or true west.
And these regions have been the most lucrative for property price growth in the past ten years. So with the Inner West already well known as an attractive place to live, the arrival of yet another convenient transport option to go with the already diverse range of buses, trains and light rail will only boost prices further - and quickly.
So if I was living in Brown Street St.Peters or Wattle Street Haberfield I would sit tight and wait for the storm to die down. It may be long and hard but once the clouds break I predict the sunny days will be long and rewarding.