Sydney singled out for dishonourable mention in federal cities report

20 October 2011

Sydney has been singled out for dishonourable mention in the Federal Governments State of Australian Cities 2011 report released today, according to the Urban Taskforce.


The Taskforces chief executive-designate, Chris Johnson, said that the report found a 200,000 home gap between supply and demand across Australia, but said the problem in Sydney was particularly severe.


This report clearly shows that Sydneys lack of new housing is driving people away from the city that they know and love, Mr Johnson said.


The report found that Melbourne is growing faster than Sydney, having increased its population by more than 600,000 between 2001 and 2010 while Sydneys grew by less than 450,000 over the same period.


It said that Sydneys net population increase only came from the fact that international migrants are settling in Sydney at a slightly higher rate than Sydney residents are leaving. While Melbourne is also a destination for many international migrants, the city is losing fewer internal migrants and consequently is growing more rapidly than Sydney.


The report identifies the rapid growth of inner suburban areas in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. It says the trend was most pronounced in the City of Sydney, which added 52,530 residents in the period 2001 to 2010.


However, the report glosses over the fact that in the last four years annual average population growth in the City of Sydney has been just half the average for the preceding five years, Mr Johnson said.


The City of Sydney is not fulfilling its potential as a hub for compact, pedestrian friendly living.


Every time an inner city council blocks new homes from being built, less people are likely to end up using public transport to reach inner city jobs.


Mr Johnson said the housing supply crisis in Sydney and NSW was showing no sign of abating.


In the last quarter alone, work started on just 6,700 new homes in NSW, compared with 14,700 in Victoria and 6,000 in Queensland.


In fact, the June quarter saw new housing starts fall by 20 per cent in NSW while Victoria saw an increase of 4.5 per cent.


No capital city produces less homes per head of population than Sydney.


Mr Johnson said that the report found that while there was an increased concentration of jobs in urban cores, a large proportion (50 to 70 per cent) of new jobs were located in the outer suburbs in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.


We need to recognise as this report does, that public transport is mainly used by commuters to reach inner city jobs, Mr Johnson said.


Public transport mode share for outer suburban jobs is five per cent or less.


Investment in new public transport to connect outer suburban communities to the urban core is vital.


But we cant ignore the need for investment in the arterial road network in outer suburban communities to make it easier for people to get to the large number of local, decentralised, jobs.


Its disappointing that the release of this report has not been accompanied by any commitment by the Federal Government to fund the new and improved arterial roads essential for urban growth, nor any Commitment by the Federal Government to fund the North West rail link in Sydney.


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