Follow-up and social impact assessment (SIA) in urban transport-infrastructure projects: insights from the parramatta rail link

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - australasia, place - urban, mode - rail, planning - public consultation, planning - environmental impact, land use - planning, land use - impacts, organisation - governance


Urban & transport planning & governance, social impact assessment, EIA follow-up, parramatta rail link, epping to chatswood rail link


In assessing the social impacts of major urban transport-infrastructure projects Impact Assessment (IA) practitioners determine and facilitate the equitable distribution of project benefits and costs. They do this in a context of governmental policy objectives and stakeholder interests. Public investment in transport projects shapes contemporary planning of urban Australian cities, addressing common challenges of rapid and sprawling population growth. Politically-driven ‘urgency’ in delivering new infrastructure, raises questions about long-term strategic benefit and delivery of the positive social and environmental outcomes that often frame their announcement.

Follow-up to assess outcomes against policy objectives and stakeholder interests, however, is rare and tools to facilitate genuine public accountability through project phases are lacking. This paper discusses the need for better management and follow-up of social impacts from urban transport-infrastructure projects. Drawing insights from a review of the (partial) delivery of the former NSW Government's Parramatta Rail Link project, it evaluates social impact management strategies applied against the achievement of social and transport policy objectives. Lessons introduced highlight the constraints and limitations on good practice IA and Social Impact Assessment, the importance of early practitioner and community involvement and that political decision-making for urban transport-infrastructure has the greater influence on delivering social outcomes.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.