Thank you for the opportunity to make further comment on district planning for my community, as detailed in the Draft Eastern City District Plan.
Similar to the detailed submissions I made to the Draft Central District Plan and Draft South District Plan, this submission is made with reference to correspondence from constituents concerned about the strategic priorities for the growth of the Sydney region.
The submission is centred on four key concerns raised by the Inner West community:
- Housing targets are not matched with clear plans for vital community infrastructure, including new schools, child care services, health facilities or new open space;
- The Inner West is under significant development pressure and this Plan provides little if any strategic guidance;
- Inner West industrial and employment lands are paid lip service but not protected by any meaningful mechanism; and
- The plans fail to put design excellence, high amenity communities and a quality urban environment at the heart of strategic decision making.
The greatest impact of these plans is to create housing targets against which Council approvals are measured. The other goals of these plans do not have the same measurable actions, including the provision of vital community infrastructure.
The overwhelming sentiment of my community is that the Inner West is willing to accommodate our fair share of growth in the Sydney region, but it must be matched with meaningful and measurable investment in schools, hospitals, transport and open space.
Many of the ambitions laid out in the Draft Eastern City District Plan are important strategic goals for our city. I particularly note the focus on schools and childcare in Planning Priority E3 as an example of this. However, I hold ongoing concerns that this plan does not compel any meaningful action from the Department of Education or, similarly, the Department of Health.
While the plan sets clear housing targets, it fails to compel any level of Government to create a clear plan for the delivery of new schools, health services or infrastructure in our community. This is akin to condoning overdevelopment with no accompanying community infrastructure to support it.
Within my electorate, residents are facing development from the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor, Parramatta Road Corridor, Bays Precinct and site specific proposals such as the proposed Carrington Road redevelopment and the proposed development surrounding Ashfield Park.
While the District Plan notes that one of the most significant community responses to the exhibition of the original District Plans was the inequity of housing targets, there has been no revision to the Eastern City District Plan housing targets.
Inner West Council is still required to accommodate 5,900 new homes, while Waverley must only accommodate 1,250 and Woollahra 300 in the same period. This is simply inequitable.
It is also unclear as to how the housing targets outlined in the Plan relate to targets set out in the Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor plans, which place 6,000 additional dwellings in Marrickville and 2,000 in Dulwich Hill alone.
I am pleased to see the Plan make explicit mention of the vitality and importance of Marrickville’s industrial areas (page 53) and the dynamic nature of our inner city employment industries, including breweries, coffee roasters and other artisans (page 89).
Residents know that our eclectic industrial lands are an intrinsic part of life here in the Inner West. However, the viability of our precious inner city employment lands are threatened by the Carrington Road Precinct proposal, the plans approved for the Victoria Road precinct, the encroachment of the Sydney Metro stabling yards in Sydenham, as well as potential plans to stifle the growth of the Sydenham Creative Hub.
I am disappointed that the Plan does not provide any explicit actions for how these existing industrial lands will actually be protected and enhanced.
Many Inner West residents have seen once vibrant industrial precincts turn to residential towers, bulky good retailers and business park style offices.
Our community needs real and measurable plans that detail the ways in which all three levels of government will protect these lands and enhance the viability of our growing creative economy in these precincts.
DESIGN, AMENITY AND QUALITY OF URBAN ENVIRONMENT
I am contacted every day by a resident of the Inner West concerned about decline in the quality of design, amenity and the urban environment in the face of unbridled residential growth in our community.
The Inner West community’s particular concerns include:
- Poor quality apartment buildings, particularly substandard materials and finishes which do not age well;
- The development of shop top housing in which ground floor commercial or retail tenancies cannot be leased out;
- Continued pressure on our roads without a coordinated approach from authorities when new apartment buildings are developed;
- Schools and health services at capacity which undermines the amenity of our suburbs; and
- Open space is at a premium, leaving local sports teams and the community without adequate recreation space.
While this plan goes some way in planning for these issues, particularly a numeric goal for affordable housing and aims for the greening of our urban environment, the plan does not go far enough.
A broad strategic approach to the development of our suburbs should be reflected in measurable actions and I am concerned that this plan does not fulfil that opportunity. I hope future iterations of this document include a clear policy process to turn the goals of this plan into change in our communities.
Community groups like Save Marrickville and Save Dully work to represent the broad views of the community. Their ongoing advocacy has put focus on the loss of character in our heritage suburbs, particularly of the risks posed by the Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor Plans and the Carrington Road proposal. They have put forward detailed and thoughtful responses to the Department’s plans for rezoning, density and infrastructure, and will continue to be an important voice for our local communities. I urge you to continue discussions with these groups
I look forward to continuing to discuss these issues with the Commission and planning authorities, and to convey the strongly held views of my community when it comes to growing our suburbs while at the same time protecting the things we love about them.