They’ve been plans since the early 2000s to create a greenway along the edge of the 3.9km long Alexandra Canal in Sydney’s inner-south. The idea is to over time turn this former industrial waterway into Sydney’s own Little Venice, with open space constructed along urban redevelopment.
So far, the plans have moved at glacial speed and few parts of the open space network have been constructed. So it was somewhat surprising to see both good and potential bad news for the Alexandra Canal in the past few weeks.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday (Commercial Business section) that the City of Sydney Council had purchased about five hectares of land from the Macquarie Bank alongside the northern end of the canal for the order of $25 million. Although not specified, it is likely this block of land is known as 6A Huntley Rd, Alexandria. The bank received approval in 2008 to demolish buildings on the site but has not advanced plans to redevelop the site.
The council’s ownership of this land by the council – noted for its strong support for cycling – would seem to be a massive boost for the construction of open space and cycling alongside the canal. This parcel of land has about a 1km frontage to the canal. However, it still falls well-short of delivering a pathway along both sides of the canal’s 3.9km length, which predominantly requires the redevelopment of private land and the co-operation of three different local authorities. The council has also purchased an adjoining site at 67A Bourke Rd, which doesn’t have canal frontage, for a council depot.
On the flipside, plans have emerged to run a motorway alongside the southern end of the canal. On August 6, the Herald reported that a motorway could run alongside the canal as part of plans for an extended M4 East. The idea would seem to be that the canal would somehow be used as part of a southern spur of the M4 East linking with the airport. It’s not clear whether this southern spur will use an existing motorway reservation running across the canal at Campbell St, St Peters and on private land to the west of the canal. These reservations can be seen in the draft City of Sydney and finalised Marrickville local environmental plans. Irrespective of exactly where this new motorway is planned, it is hardly in keeping with plans to use the canal for active transport such as cycling and walking.
It would seem likely that the twists and turns for Sydney’s Little Venice will continue.