21 February 2010
The NSW Governments latest transport plans have the potential to make Sydney a better place to live and work, according to the Urban Taskforce.
At first blush, it seems theres an increased emphasis on transport plans that are practical and will deliver for more people.
The $4.5 billion Western Express CityRail Service strengthens the role that Parramatta, Penrith, Blacktown and Richmond can play in Sydneys future.
Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority
Mr Gadiel said the new Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority could play an important part in delivering desperately needed new homes, workplaces and shopping areas.
However, the authoritys role needs to be clearer, he said.
Sydney has been stagnating over the last seven years, thanks, in part, to the current planning system.
Since 2002, annual approvals for new homes in Sydney have fallen from 33,000 a year to the current record low of 16,000 a year. Most of this decline happened before the global financial crisis (in 2006, only 18,000 new homes were approved in Sydney).
The Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority should be given the power, resources and people necessary to reverse Sydneys decline, Mr Gadiel said.
Unfortunately it will only ˜recommend areas for urban renewal and will lack the power to make final decisions.
While we welcome news that the authority will have ˜transit oriented development and rapid rezoning tools, wed like to see more detail on how these powers will work.
We dont need another bureaucracy without the power and resources to deliver on its goals.
Review of the Metropolitan Strategy
Mr Gadiel welcomed start of a public review of Sydneys Metropolitan Strategy, which was also announced today.
Since the Metropolitan Strategy came into force, annual approvals for new homes in Sydney have plummeted from 20,000 in 2005 to a record low of16,000 in 2009.
The 2005 Metropolitan Strategy had some great goals, but there has been very little delivery on the ground.
The private sector was burned by the first Metropolitan Strategy, because so many of its promises were not fulfilled.
And Sydney lost out, because the promised land release, corridor renewal and centre development didnt eventuate.
This review is an opportunity for the government to adopt a renewed strategy that it is prepared to fully deliver.
Transport Ministers new veto on significant land use decisions
Were concerned that the Transport Minister will now be given a veto on ˜significant land use decisions.
Government has previously been cutting red tape by reducing the need to get the concurrence of different ministers and public authorities for land use decisions.
Theres a risk that the involvement of another decision-maker, with a power of veto, will slow-down an already glacial process.
This looks like a backward step to us it may make it harder to get development moving again in Sydney.
Mr Gadiel said it was disappointing that no new announcements on urban land release were made today.
Median rents for three bedroom homes in outer suburban Sydney have increased by $110 a week 46 per cent in the last five years, he said.
Rents are skyrocketing because there simply isnt enough suburban homes with their own backyard.
The supply of commercially developable land on the edge of our city has dried up to a trickle.
Much of the land that has been released is burdened by high local council levies and many small owners who arent willing to sell.
The NSW government needs to get large sites stuck in the planning pipeline released for development, without punitive local council charges.
The new express trains to Richmond, Penrith and Blacktown strengthen opportunities for new houses in Western Sydney provided the government is prepared to clear planning blockages and lift unsustainable levies.
Its good to see that the North-West Rail Link is back on the agenda, however a start date of 2017 is too distant, and more needs to be done to bring this important project forward.
New housing around high quality public transport
Mr Gadiel said the planned light rail extension into Dulwich Hill provides an opportunity for more of Sydneys new housing to be accommodated around high quality public transport.
New compact, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighbourhoods should bring together housing, workplaces, shopping and recreation areas within walking distance of public transport.
The government will be wasting its investment if significant apartment, retail and office development is not also permitted along any new light rail corridor.
The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.
For every $1 million in construction expenditure, 27 jobs are created throughout the broader economy.
The construction activity made possible by property developers contributes $78 billion to the national economy each year and creates 849,000 direct jobs.