There’s an obvious solution to Oxford Street’s woes

It shouldn’t be this hard. It takes about two minutes surveying Taylor Square to realise what ought to happen. If this were Europe, it would be a public plaza, and you could grab a drink from one of the many nearby venues and sit down at tables and chairs provided for the public.

You hear endless complaints from councillors, residents’ groups and green types about how we don’t have enough public open space. Rubbish. We just don’t use our public space well. Taylor Square has a piddling market on a Saturday morning; other than that, it’s a thoroughfare. The lovely area out the front of Darlinghurst Courthouse also goes entirely unused by the public.

Taylor Square is under-utilised as public open space.Credit:Wolter Peeters

A lot of money is pouring into Oxford Street. The $200 million TOGA project Oxford and Foley will redevelop three whole blocks with a 75-room boutique hotel (and rooftop pool), nearly 10,000 square metres of commercial space and another 2300sqm of retail.

Moelis Australia is planning to merge the Kinselas and Courthouse Hotel sites into a mega complex right on Taylor Square. And the City of Sydney will turn the old Darlinghurst Police Station into an LGBTQ museum.

All this is good and overdue. It may yet turn Oxford Street into something truly special. But it also needs the infrastructure, the ballast – the glue – to make the precinct easily accessible and people-friendly. It needs light rail.


The state government and City of Sydney rightly crow about how the light rail has transformed George Street from an ugly, traffic-choked hellhole to a beautified, modern boulevard where people want to walk, dine and linger. Why not do this with Oxford Street, too?

You could run it all the way down past Centennial Park to Bondi Junction and, yes, to Bondi Beach. This would help redress the two great wrongs perpetrated in this area: the removal of the tram in 1960 and the failure to extend the eastern suburbs rail line all the way to the beach.

It’s essentially the same on Parramatta Road: now that Sydney has embraced light rail again, it’s a no-brainer to finally reimagine the spine of the inner west with trams and fewer cars.

We know the state government is maxed out on infrastructure mega projects. But sticking in a bike lane here and mini-museum there, or tinkering with governance arrangements, won’t alter the big picture.

What we don’t want is another endless public consultation or nauseating master planing process where bureaucrats and planners take years to come up with ideas that are then exhibited to vested interests and so-called stakeholders.

Someone with their brain screwed on just needs to come in and dictate what’s going to happen. It doesn’t take a genius to see light rail is the answer.

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