Reshaping the ‘boomburgs’: Minister takes on challenge of managing SYDNEY’s Urban Sprawl

HERE it is … more justification …

WILTON is rapidly undergoing higher density development yet it is beyond Metropolitan Sydney with new housing at Wilton Town Centre, Wilton South and Wilton West. Despite this …

APPIN too with 18,000 new homes proposed … fortunately these three development proposals have now been withdrawn!

THE MESSAGE from a Local Resident:

‘There are significant costs and constraints to developing this sensitive area. It is currently poorly serviced (wastewater pumped to Glenfield STP which has insufficient additional capacity); there is zero chance of a train service; the local road network is poor with traffic heading south throttled by a one-way, one vehicle at a time 10km/h bridge at Broughton Pass with hairpin bends.

There is little employment in the town.

There are endangered ecological communities such as shale transition forest.

I just don’t think it’s a sensible place to put urban sprawl.’

APPIN KOALAS are part of the disease free population that extends into Campbelltown and further north. This is reported to be the only disease free population in NSW.

CROWS NEST … and ST LEONARDS, WOLLSTONECRAFT and GREENWICH strong local resident community opposition … they’re over it … View their Facebook: STOP Overdevelopment St Leonards Crows Nest Wollstonecraft Greenwich!

But …

-local councils are still dependent on the rate income these high-rise developments bring

A most observed feature of high-rise is that once a site is approved other similar developments follow so a suburb is soon transformed into a high-rise ghetto

THE COMMENT …. ‘Where will people live?’ …

is put about in response to community objections to higher density housing … BUT what is not said is that the GROWTH … the contrived need for ever more housing is due to the 100% sell-off overseas of ‘new homes’ (FIRB Ruling; May 2017 Budget Reg.)

Reshaping the ‘boomburgs’: Minister takes on challenge of managing Sydney’s urban sprawl

ABC Illawarra By Kelly Fuller

24 NOVEMBER 2019

A drone shot of a housing development in a semi-rural area.

PHOTO: Wollondilly can feel Sydney’s south-west breathing down its neck. (ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

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In the next 17 years, Sydney’s population is expected to grow by 1.5 million people, a large percentage of whom will pour into the south-west growth corridor.

Key points:

  • The NSW Government is working with councils in and around Sydney to deal with urban sprawl
  • Councils south-west of the city are cautiously optimistic, but will likely have to deal with the burden of infrastructure
  • An expert says a central, forward-looking planning commission should be established to manage expansion in new areas

*This has communities like Wilton, which are outside the boundaries of metropolitan Sydney, concerned that their semi-rural lifestyle is about to disappear.

Conceding that the city is spreading too far too fast, Planning Minister Rob Stokes has revealed that he wants a new relationship with councils to help manage growth and infrastructure pressures.

“We want to help shape growth,” Mr Stokes said.

“Even if it were a desirable outcome to restrict growth, and I am not sure it necessarily is, but even if that is what people wanted to do that is a completely quixotic quest.

“You can’t stop it, so the best thing you can do is work together.”

Retaining the rural feel

In his second tilt at the portfolio, the minister has devised four new pathways to manage Sydney’s 50 growth precincts, taking in not just locations on the fringe, like the Macarthur region around Campbelltown, but also inner-city locations including Waterloo and Crows Nest, in North Sydney.

A circular chart showing a plan to create new precincts south of Sydney.

PHOTO: Rob Stokes says the new categories will help fast-track developments by increasing council involvement. (Supplied: NSW Planning)

*On the southern edge of Sydney the reshaped vision will alter how Wilton in the Wollondilly Shire is managed through the government’s proposed Greater MacArthur growth plan.

The proposal has been the subject to intense criticism from local councils and the Opposition, who have warned the government infrastructure planning is short by some $500 million.

But Mr Stokes is taking a hands-on approach in the region and is convinced it is the right strategy to bring in the local council to help plan an area the size of a small city, taking in the Wilton Town Centre, Wilton South and Wilton West.

“I am pretty excited about the opportunities of working together,” Mr Stokes said.

Our vision is to have more jobs locally by focusing on growth in centres, but also having a series of new towns separated by landscape breaks to recognise the rural feel of the place that people have told us really important in the south-west of Sydney.

“So what we are going to see in the south-west is less urban sprawl.”

A shot of a a golden brown field stretching as far as the eye can see.

PHOTO: Some of the farmland at Appin that will be rezoned for homes as part of the new Wilton precinct. (ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

No SIC in sight

*Wollondilly Mayor Matthew Deeth has cautiously welcomed the proposal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Government.

“I think this is a really welcome first step from the minister and the department,” Mr Deeth said.

But the State Government is continuing to push the burden of infrastructure development onto local councils, and if they think the minister is ready to rethink policy to fund infrastructure through a new Special Infrastructure Contributions (SIC) at no cost to government, they had better think again.

Councils do have capacity to raise debt — the State will work with them in relation to that,” Mr Stokes said.

“We have already suggested to council more generally that there is a great capacity to use the state balance sheet to raise debt where required.”

Crows Nest, in North Sydney, is another precinct the minister wants to fast-track.

Three-thousand additional dwellings that will be mostly apartments are due to be delivered, with half already built.

The Council’s City Strategy Director, Joseph Hill, said they are extremely well prepared.

“We will be willing participants in the MOU,” Mr Hill said.

“We’ll be talking about the need for open space and public domain amenity, because the Crows Nest Metro Station is coming through and there must be a real focus on delivering jobs, because jobs equal vibrancy.”

CAAN: Like a broken record that word ‘vibrancy’ again … and again … and again!

Public housing towers at Waterloo.

PHOTO: Waterloo is one of the precincts that will be placed in a new category under the planning shift. (ABC News: Peter Rothwell)

Horse before the cart

The biggest precinct to go back to council planning will be the Waterloo Estate, in inner Sydney, where the project will be handed to the City of Sydney Council.

The State Government’s original plan was for 6,800 dwellings, but the council will shrink that back 5,300 dwellings.

A smiling, bespectacled older man in formal attire sits in a TV studio

PHOTO: Professor Edward Blakeley says local knowledge will be the key to making the precincts work. (ABC News)

*Professor Edward Blakeley, a former member of the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) and land use lawyer, said the minister’s new strategy makes sense, but in areas like Wollondilly the Government must ensure that infrastructure is completed before the developers move in to start building homes.

*”The first principle is the infrastructure plan should be there and the delivery should be there before the developers start buying any land,” Professor Blakely said.

*”Because we have a situation where the developers are already outlaying millions of dollars on intention and there is no plan, so what happens is by default the developer becomes the planner rather than the person who reacts to the plan.”

Professor Blakely said there is a fundamental need for one overarching body to manage and govern all growth in Sydney and pointed overseas for a potential model.

Drone shot of housing development at Bingara Gorge south west of Sydney taken in March 2019

PHOTO: A housing development at Bingara Gorge, south-west of Sydney. (ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)

“The Greater New York Planning Commission, of which I am an Emeritus member of, covers five states and co-ordinates planning process for transportation, major infrastructure and regional planning that goes out 50 years for housing, shopping, parking etc,” he said.

“I think the metropolitan planning commission, the GSC, should be the agency that co-ordinates all the other planning agencies.

“I think the minister is on the right track, and it might take two or three ministers to get it all done.”

Professor Blakely also had some sage advice for councils asked to sign new MOU’s.

“I think at first they have to say, ‘minister, if you want us to take on this responsibility you have to provide us with the resources to do it,’ and secondly, ‘we as a council have to be working in a collaborative way so that we don’t have to go to every agency,'” he said.