Lights Shine On Penrith Opportunity

THE inaugural Lights on Penrith 2021 Growth Summit, held in March at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith, was a huge success, gathering delegates from business, government, and the local community together to discuss the significant growth and development planned for the region in the next few years.

Kate Rafton, President of the Penrith Valley Chamber of Commerce and the driving force behind the Summit was delighted with the outcome.

“We had some amazing feedback from participants on the day. This was our first event under the Lights on Penrith banner and we are planning to run a series, each one focusing on a different aspect of growth and opportunity in our region. What really struck me, was how much the participants appreciated the chance to come together and focus on some of the most important issues relevant to Western Sydney and in particular, the Penrith region,” she said.

The key focus of the Summit was to highlight business growth opportunities and how major infrastructure and development projects, such as the Western Sydney Airport, Nepean Business Park, St Mary’s Freight Hub and Sydney Science Park, will create more local jobs and improve sustainability in the Nepean.

Bruce Baudinet, Chairman of Precinct Capital – the developers behind Nepean Business Park and Flagship Sponsors of the Summit – enjoyed the chance to contribute to the discussion on the day.

“We love the concept of the “30-minute city”. Providing opportunities for people to work within an easy 30-minute commute is critical when building sustainable communities. The Summit allowed us to meet with local businesses, share our vision of the 30-minute city, and demonstrate how an enlightened planning framework can support small businesses and thereby improve local employment opportunities. his will allow facilities like the Nepean Business Park to attract and retain small to medium enterprises in the region and create local jobs for local people,” he said.

According to Andrew Grima, Principal of Coleman Greig Lawyers and Flagship Sponsor of Lights on Penrith:

“The Lights on Penrith Growth Summit was exactly what the Penrith community needed. It was a fantastic opportunity to not only showcase future development in the region, but also to connect key stakeholders, and give businesses solid ideas on how they can leverage the growth opportunities. “

Sponsors and supporters of the event included Nepean Business Park (NBP) and Coleman Greig Lawyers, Penrith City Council, Celestino (developers of the Sydney Science Park), KPMG, NAB, Macquarie Commercial, Hix Group, Optus Business Centre Western Sydney, St Mary’s Freight Hub, Complete Recruitment Solutions, Raine & Horne Commercial Penrith, Uphire Equipment Specialists and Business Western Sydney.

Western Sydney Business Access was the regional media partner for the event.

With planning already underway, the next Lights on Penrith event will have a focus on tourism and hospitality in the region and take place in July.

By Stacey Randell – Engagement Manager at Penrith Valley Chamber of Commerce. Contact her on 0435 457 849


Bells Line Of Road To Reopen This Week

One lane is set to reopen on Bells Line of Road this week allowing drivers to travel in both directions at a reduced speed limit of 40 km/h.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said Transport for NSW crews assessed the road after it was damaged by last month’s severe weather event, and are patching significant potholes between Bell and Mount Tomah.

“Drivers will be able to travel all the way from Windsor to Lithgow on Bells Line of Road without any closure points, but there could still be traffic delays in the area due to the changed conditions” Mr Constance said

“Crews are currently carrying out patching work and they anticipate the road will be able to be opened under traffic control within the next 48 hours, but the full reopen will still require a lot more time and technical investigations.

“Yesterday’s geotechnical investigation revealed the affected areas are drying out and there’s been no further damage to Bells Line of Road since last week.

“I am encouraging drivers to visit cafes, pie shops, apple orchards and other businesses along Bells Line of Road, because they are still open and need your support these school holidays.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said ground penetrating radar had been used to assess ground conditions beneath the road surface and help Transport develop strategies to restore access as quickly as possible.

“We know how important this road is both to locals and as a connection between Sydney and the Central West and we’ve been working hard to ensure it is safe to reopen,” Mr Toole said.

“While there’s still a lot of work to do to restore it to full capacity, we’ll be working hard to keep communities up to date and connected.”

March’s flooding event damaged the ground underneath Bells Line of Road and caused nearby slopes to slip, leading to the road being closed between Bell and Mount Tomah for the safety of the community.

Further heavy rain could impact the stability of the slopes on either side of the road, requiring Transport for NSW to close sections of the road again to keep everyone safe. If this occurs, Transport will communicate all of these changes to the community.

Transport for NSW Acting Deputy Secretary Howard Collins said the current traffic control point will be moved from Berambing up to the Blue Mountains Botanical Gardens this week.

“This is good timing for the Blue Mountains Botanical Gardens as it means the Gardens will be able to open to the public after finishing off their own flood clean-up operation,” Mr Collins said.

“We are encouraging the community to visit the Bells Line of Road local businesses but make sure you add plenty of extra travel time because the road will be down to just one lane between Bell and Mount Tomah.”

For more information, visit

Green lights for Sydney Metro west


The Sydney Metro West project has received two major planning approvals, creating thousands of jobs and paving the way for mega tunnel boring machines to be in the ground by the end of next year.

Planning approval has been granted for the Sydney Metro West Project Concept, from Westmead to the Sydney CBD, as well as station excavation and tunnelling between Westmead and The Bays.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance today visited the site of two future factories at Eastern Creek, which separately received planning approval.

“We are ready to hit the ground running with work on the new Sydney Metro West tunnels and station excavations, between Westmead and The Bays,” Mr Constance said.

“The NSW Government is creating local jobs through local manufacturing, with the benefits of the Sydney Metro West project reaching further into the community than just at the station locations.

“These two new factories at Eastern Creek will support 240 local jobs and manufacture 148,000 precast concrete segments for the 24 kilometre twin tunnels that stretch from Westmead to the Sydney CBD.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the approvals are a huge step forward for Sydney Metro West, which will transform the way we travel across Greater Sydney for generations to come.

“This city-shaping project will have a target travel time of about 20 minutes between Parramatta and the CBD, cut crowding on three major train lines and take tens of thousands of cars off the road every day,” Mr Stokes said.

“It will create more than 10,000 direct jobs and around 70,000 indirect jobs, while delivering a vital boost to the local economy.”

The project will link new suburbs to rail for the first time, with stations confirmed at Westmead, Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, North Strathfield, Burwood North, Five Dock, The Bays, Pyrmont and the Sydney CBD.

The planning approvals process for Sydney Metro West is being done in stages because of the size of the project.

Future planning stages will seek approval for major civil construction works including station excavation and tunnelling between The Bays to Sydney CBD, as well as tunnel

fit-out, station building and operation of the line between Westmead and the CBD. The community will be able to have its say at each stage of the planning process.

Construction started on the Sydney Metro West project in late 2020, with tens of billions of dollars being invested by the NSW Government to deliver a new Metro network across Greater Sydney.

The first of three tunnelling contracts is expected to be awarded in the middle of this year.

NSW Seniors festival gets back to nature

A garden tour, seedling workshop and bush tucker walk are among almost 80 initiatives connecting older people through the NSW Government’s Seniors Festival Grants Program.

Each year the NSW Seniors Festival provides a diverse range of programs and activities to seniors across the State enabling them to remain active, healthy and engaged.

Minister for Seniors Geoff Lee said the festival provides a chance for seniors to socialise, enjoy new experiences and continue learning.

“This year’s theme ‘In Our Nature’ provides a great opportunity for seniors to connect with the great outdoors, promote healthy living and maybe even try a new activity like chair yoga,” Mr Lee said.

Grow Together – a social network focused on combatting social isolation for seniors through sharing photos and stories about gardening – will be one of many stall holders at the NSW Seniors Festival exhibition.

Research shows the most effective way to learn about technology is through a hobby or subject you enjoy, and a love of gardening is something many seniors share,” Grow Together CEO and Founder Judy Friedlander said.

“As part of the NSW Government’s Combatting Social Isolation for Seniors grant program, 300 smartphones were distributed to seniors in Western Sydney who can now join our thriving social network.”

The NSW Government’s Seniors Festival grant recipients include a range of organisations, ensuring the festival has a diverse line-up. Activities include a comedy show, art exhibitions, high tea, drum circles and intergenerational dances.

The rose of the NSW Seniors Festival will be the Premier’s Gala Concert with internationally acclaimed Motown performers, Human Nature, headlining.

Events and initiatives will run across the State, kicking off on 13 April and continuing until 24 April.
For more information and dates visit:

$20M boost for disadvantaged driver program

$20M will be spent over the next five years helping more people get behind the wheel with the expansion of the Driver Licensing Access Program (DLAP).
Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said the program’s investment had been doubled and is aimed at increasing opportunities for 10,000 individuals including people from Aboriginal communities, vulnerable youth and refugees.
“Getting a driver’s licence is life-changing. It brings new opportunities for employment, education, training and medical treatment,” Mr Constance said.
“The program works by partnering volunteers with some of our more vulnerable members of the community, giving them access to licensing, safe and legal driving.
“Since the program started in 2015, more than 4,500 participants have gained their Learner Licence and over 3,000 have achieved their Provisional Licence.”
The program helps participants to navigate the Graduated Licensing Scheme (GLS). It includes preparing for the driver knowledge test to gain their Learner’s Licence, assistance accumulating 120 hours on road supervised driving experience as well as the costs in getting a licence.
Mr Constance said the statistics show unauthorised drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash and twice as likely to be in a crash causing injury.
Ensuring we get more people inside the licensing system greatly reduces the risks on our roads. The deaths of young drivers have more than halved since the current licensing scheme began in 2000, but we still see young drivers over-represented in road crashes,” Mr Constance said.
“Last year’s road toll was 297. This toll isn’t just a number – it’s people, a loved one,a family member or a colleague.”
Transport for NSW has worked with Multicultural NSW to identify communities that would benefit from the expanded driver assistance program. These will include Fairfield, Liverpool, Bankstown, Parramatta, Holroyd, Bankstown, Wollongong, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Armidale, the Riverina and Murray.

First Light Rail tracks laid along Eat St


THE revitalization of Parramatta’s ‘Eat Street’ is well underway with the first tracks laid for Parramatta Light Rail in the dining precinct.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said major light rail construction on Church Street, from Lennox Bridge to George Street, is being fast-tracked for completion in mid-2021.

“It’s exciting to see a city-shaping project like the Parramatta Light Rail make significant progress over the past few weeks,” Mr Constance said.

“Up to 500 people per day and 300 each night worked through the Christmas and New Year period to connect utilities and lay tracks for the new light rail network, which will connect Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia.

“Construction crews are working a combined 8,500 hours a day right across the whole 12-kilometer alignment to deliver this project as quickly as possible, so everyone can enjoy the benefits.”

Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee said amending the construction schedule for ‘Eat Street’ in response to COVID-19 saw work continue through a planned three-month construction break, bringing forward the completion of major works in the dining precinct.

“We thank our local businesses for their patience and understanding during what has been a tough period for many. Seeing the first light rail tracks on ‘Eat Street’ is a positive sign of what’s to come,” Dr. Lee said.

“A celebration is planned from August, with a Transport for NSW activation known as ‘Eat Street Uncovered’ to take place before the installation of light rail stops and the commencement of network testing and commissioning.”

166 metres of track have now been installed along Eat Street.

The Parramatta Light Rail is expected to open in 2023. For more information, visit

Parramatta aquatic and leisure centre gets final tick of approval

PARRAMATTA’S state-of-the-art aquatic and leisure centre is one step closer to construction after City of Parramatta Council received approval to build the critical project.

The Sydney Central City Planning Panel has endorsed Council’s Development Application for the $77M facility, which will boast three new pools, a water play area, and premium fitness facilities.

“I know I speak for the whole community when I say I’m thrilled to see Parramatta’s much-anticipated aquatic and leisure centre get the green light,” City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer said.

“What the team has designed is more than a swimming centre – it’s a multifunctional recreational hub where the community can meet, swim, play, exercise and dine, right in the heart of global Sydney.”

Council will announce a builder early next year following a rigorous selective tender process, with construction set to begin in 2021.

The project, scheduled for completion in 2023, is being co-funded by the NSW Government and has the support of Parramatta Park Trust.

“This is a significant milestone in the development of this fantastic facility for the local community,” Acting Minister for Sport and Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee said.

“I look forward to seeing construction commence in the new year, creating local jobs and helping boost the economy.”

Located in the lush surrounds of Parramatta Park, the centre will feature a 50-metre, 10-lane outdoor heated pool with seating; a 25-metre, indoor recreational pool; an indoor Learn to Swim pool; indoor splash play area; multipurpose community rooms; spa and sauna facilities; a fitness centre, including a modern gym and program rooms; cafe; and up to 200 parking spaces.

For more information, visit:





POWERHOUSE Parramatta is one step closer after the NSW Government has shortlisted three contractors to deliver a world-class museum in the geographic heart of Sydney.

Delivering more than 4,000 jobs during and after construction, this nationally important cultural infrastructure project will deliver Western Sydney its richly deserved first-ever major cultural institution, a project that will have a generational impact on the lives of young people across the region.

The following applicants have been shortlisted to build the Powerhouse Parramatta:
·       Lendlease
·       Multiplex
·       Richard Crookes Constructions

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said after a strong response to the call for Expressions of Interest shortlisting delivery partners was a major milestone.

“We were very pleased at the number of outstanding builders wanting to deliver this project and it was hard to narrow the list to three,” Mr Harwin said.

“Projects of national significance like the Powerhouse Parramatta come along once in a lifetime and it’s so exciting for the people of Greater Sydney to be delivering this incredible cultural institution here in Parramatta.”

“At over 18,000 square metres of exhibition and public space to house the museum’s collection of over half a million objects, the Powerhouse Parramatta will, without doubt, become a Museum of international significance,” said Mr Harwin.

Member for Parramatta and Minister for Skills, Geoff Lee said the project brings much-needed employment to the region.

“Not only will the Museum deliver more than 4,000 jobs, but we are also targeting one apprentice for every four tradespersons during construction – critical investment in our young workforce during a very challenging time in Western Sydney,” Dr Lee said.

“This summer I encourage the people of Parramatta and Western Sydney to come to Parramatta Square and learn more about the incredible benefits this world-class project will deliver to our communities in Greater Sydney”.

City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer attended Parramatta Square today to offer his support for the new Museum:

“Powerhouse Parramatta is going to be a game-changer for Western Sydney and it’s exciting to see this once-in-a-lifetime project a step closer to reality,” Cr Dwyer said.

“Not only will it bring jobs to our great City, but the investment will be a boon for our creative sector, local businesses and visitor economy.”

For more information on the Powerhouse Parramatta community space opening times visit:

LOCAL BUSINESS PROFILE: Mode Media brings stories alive

CHRIS Hekeik elevates companies to the future in a stone cottage in Parramatta that harks back to our colonial past. A place of significant stories.

But that is an incongruity that says so much about Chris, the founder of Mode Media, which has become “the largest branding agency in Western Sydney”

In looking forward, the son of immigrants has not forgotten his past, or Parramatta’s past either.

“My parents came from Lebanon and I am one of four boys, growing up in Parramatta,” Chris said.

“My parents instilled in our passion and drive to succeed, they always have encouraged us to work hard and be the best.”

As a branding expert with a dream 22 years ago to give a range of companies a holistic solution to building their brands, Chris and his team have ridden the wave of ever-changing technology to sweep their clients to success.

“When I started out 22 years ago, I realized we had to provide a holistic solution to building brands that companies could find in one place,” Chris said.

“Back then, it was about brochures and print advertising, but with the worldwide web, we are now into digital media. But what has not changed is that it is all about story-telling.”

They call him Mode Media’s “chief storyteller” and his team of creative people are imbued with the same gift.
They can deliver a range of services to advance brand awareness in the crowded marketplace for a slew of businesses, mostly in the corporate, retail, and hospitality sectors.

Apart from designing distinctive logos that bring brands to life, Mode Media puts the pizzazz into websites and are proudly ahead of the game when it comes to that essential tool of marketing and communication – the video presentation that tells a company’s story in a way that other media cannot.

As you would expect, Mode Media’s website is full of information and examples of their beautiful work, on an easy-to-navigate site.

The main message is that everyone has a story, but when it is told “spell-bindingly”, your story can cut through crowded markets.

“Every brand we cultivate has a story at its core – a tale of striving, struggle, creativity, and hope. This is where business branding intersects with the human factor – and creates something truly, wonderfully new, something memorable” the website reads.

It almost sounds like the story of Parramatta, Australia’s second city, where remnants of the colonial past intersect with the bright, busy present, and future.

Even cities as great as Parramatta need a branding boost, so Chris’s team was happy to help with Parramatta Council’s recent Light Rail website and a video series that celebrates the past of the colony’s food bowl and, for a time, seat of government.

Check it out at
Mode Media is at 8a Grose St Parramatta, phone 9648 8111.


THE $1B Nepean Hospital redevelopment has marked a major milestone, as the NSW Government announced Stage 2 of the project will be brought forward by two years.

The fast-tracking of the project was announced at a topping out ceremony of Nepean Hospital’s 14-storey tower, which reached its highest point of construction today.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government’s $1 billion investment in Nepean Hospital will future-proof health services in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains for decades to come.

“The redeveloped Nepean Hospital will be a gamechanger for the region, providing new world-class health facilities including an expanded emergency department, birthing suites, and neonatal intensive care unit,” Ms. Berejiklian said.

“Bringing the project forward by two years will fast-track economic recovery in Western Sydney and create thousands of local jobs – both essential drivers of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan.”

The concept design for Stage 2 was unveiled today, providing a preview of the new Intensive Care Unit, in-center renal dialysis unit, medical imaging, and nuclear medicine services, more beds, staff education and training facilities, community health services, and a new Front of House for the hospital.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said Stage 2 is right on the heels of Stage 1, which is being completed on time and within budget despite the enormous challenges faced this year during the pandemic.

“We’re on track to complete Stage 1 of Nepean Hospital at the end of 2021 – a tremendous outcome for Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains –  and now the community can expect the full world-class package two years ahead of schedule,” Mr.Hazzard said.

“This $1 billion project will place vastly enhanced health services on the community’s doorstep and support our fantastic staff as they continue to deliver their very best care to increasing numbers of patients.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism, and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the contemporary health facility would not only help drive economic recovery but would be another drawcard to the rapidly growing region.

“This major project will generate thousands of jobs and deliver the very best healthcare available to the community, making the region an even more appealing place to live and work,” Mr. Ayres said.

Member for Mulgoa, Tanya Davies said the acceleration of the Nepean Hospital Redevelopment by two years is further proof Western Sydney is a key priority for the NSW Government.

“The fast-tracking of this project is a welcome boost to the communities of Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains who have been doing it extremely tough during the pandemic,” Mrs. Davies said.

Fast-tracked funding will allow Stage 2 enabling and fit-out works to start earlier while construction for Stage 1 is still underway. This will also allow for a much smoother transition into the construction of the main works
for Stage 2.

To register your interest in providing input into the design of Stage 2 of the Nepean Redevelopment visit