Penrith isn’t like it used to be, and that’s not such a bad thing

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Often some of the worst things said about Penrith come from within.

With blinkers firmly on, even some of our own long-term residents can’t see what’s in front of them.

We’ve all heard it – Penrith’s not what it used to be, the good old days are long gone. Blah, blah, blah.

As 2022 rolls on, Penrith sits positioned to become Sydney’s next major city, with enormous growth, investment and confidence at our doorstep.

And it’s something we shouldn’t be afraid of for the sake of nostalgia.

If you were to drive around all of the suburbs of Sydney, you’d be hard pressed to find another region with Penrith’s potential and current level of investment.

Much of it has been well reported in the past, like the $1 billion Nepean Hospital upgrade, or the enormous activity happening down at the Nepean River.

An artist’s impression of the new-look Nepean Hospital.

Before Christmas we saw a commitment from the State Government to build an all-new stadium here in Penrith, and while I remain dubious on that one, it’s a strong investment in this region.

Meanwhile work continues on Council assets like City Park, Soper Place and the old Council building at 131 Henry Street.

We’ve already seen an influx of new, modern restaurants – and the opening of Penrith’s first rooftop bar. This stuff doesn’t happen without confidence that the city is growing and with the old mantra of ‘build it and they will come’.

There is so much already finished, but plenty to come this year.
Like The Orchard, which is set to become Penrith’s must-visit space down by the river later this year.

It will become, without question, an iconic part of our city.

Then there’s concepts like the old Crane Enfield Metals site, which is subject to a $101 million redevelopment, turning it into an iconic manufacturing and industrial hub.

The Log Cabin is close to completion, bringing to life a slice of Penrith’s past with a modern touch.

What the new-look Log Cabin entrance will look like.

And then there’s Western Sydney Airport – controversial as it may be at times, it will help connect Penrith to the world and is part of the driving force behind some of the other infrastructure we’re seeing.

In that neck of the woods we also have the Sydney Science Park, a 287-hectare mixed-use zone set to be an epicentre of innovation, research and commercialisation.

Over the summer holidays I had a few friends stay out here in Penrith. They hadn’t been this way in years, and were totally blown away by the positive growth.

They couldn’t believe the quality of restaurants, the mix of suburban and city lifestyle, the new architecture and the number of things to do out here.

There was a time when a trip to Penrith meant a visit to the Leagues Club, which in its own right blew people away. It still does, but it’s now just one small part of the big picture.

Visitors get it, but so many residents don’t.

Too many of us complain that there’s not enough parking, failing to accept that in most cities of this size a free park out the front of the shop you want to visit just isn’t the reality.

Too many of us whinge about apartment blocks going up everywhere, but that view too often comes from people sitting in four bedroom houses with two of them spare. If you’re happy to offer up the bedrooms to renters, perhaps those new apartment blocks wouldn’t be needed in such vast numbers.

We need to face reality: this isn’t the 1970s. And sure, we can look back on Penrith through that sphere and wish things were like they were back then, but it’s always a bias view through rose coloured glasses.

I grew up in 1980s and 1990s Penrith and I adore that time period in our city’s history, yet even then people would say “it’s gone to the dogs, not like it used to be”.

It’s true, you know. Penrith isn’t like it used to be, and that’s not such a bad thing.

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