Sydney plan has no value if its not implemented

16 December 2010

Todays Sydney Metropolitan Plan will mean little if there is no firm implementation agenda, according to the Urban Taskforce. The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said the 2005 Metropolitan Strategy had gathered dust.


Rather than tackle the problems that stopped the last strategy working, the government has merely re-written it and issued a new document, Mr Gadiel said.


Strategies will not promote investment or build confidence if they arent backed up by a commitment to action.


Mr Gadiel said implementation was being left to Sydneys 43 parochial local councils.


Generally speaking, Sydney local councils are dominated by not-in-my-backyard agendas.


Many councils will actively undermine efforts to provide compact pedestrian friendly communities around good transport links.


The reality is, high development levies, excessive red tape and local politics have crippled Sydneys housing supply and will continue to do so and this new plan is unlikely to make any difference.


Mr Gadiel said that at the moment no Australian capital city approves less new homes per head of population than Sydney. The citys per capita housing supply has halved since 2003.


Mr Gadiel said the new plan envisaged an extra 25,000 new homes being added to Sydneys housing stock each year.


Sydney only secured 13,400 extra homes in 2009/10.


These targets are already very low earlier this year an internal government report revealed that demand for extra housing in Sydney is likely to be between 25,000 and 50,000 dwellings per year.


Not only are government targets too modest actual housing supply is running at half their target.


Mr Gadiel said the housing undersupply meant more congestion, as people lived further away from their place of work, and higher rents.


In the last four years, median rents for three bedroom houses in outer suburban Sydney have soared by 44 per cent thats an average annual increase of 9.5 per cent, Mr Gadiel said.


In the same period rents for three bedroom apartments have swollen by 41 per cent an average of 9 per cent a year.


Mr Gadiel said the strategy assumed that Sydneys annual rate of job creation would permanently shrink by a quarter.


Between 2001 and 2006, the job market in Sydney grew annually by 1.3 per cent, but the projections in todays strategy assume annual job growth between 2006 and 2036 will fall to just 1 per cent.


This means the government is planning for just 760,000 extra Sydney jobs by 2036, instead of 1.03 million jobs. By way of contrast, in the last five years Melbournes job market has been growing at an annual rate of 2.9 per cent, and Brisbanes has been growing at 2.5 per cent.


Sydney should be Australias employment hub, yet this plan contemplates painfully slow job growth, running at a third of Melbournes level.


Mr Gadiel said that additional steps were required:


¢ a genuine commitment by government to implement rezonings, in-line with the strategy;


¢ planning authorities should be obliged to approve development proposals that meet the goals of the strategy;


¢ local and state development levies should be significantly reduced to a lower, more stable, rate; and


¢ public urban infrastructure investment in areas of high growth should be significantly increased.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


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