A one-size-fits-all plan for excessive high-rise development is not the right approach. We can and must do better.
The Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor Plan allows for nine-storey buildings up to 400 metres from existing train stations, including the Marrickville and Dulwich Hill stations in my electorate. That will mean an extra 36,000 apartments and approximately 100,000 extra people living along the corridor—a level of density that has local residents asking many questions.
We need a solution to housing affordability, and density around public transport is a part of that solution; but so is limiting urban sprawl to our west, north and south. If residents are to accept density, they deserve to know it is density done well. Unfortunately, the Government got that back to front.
The Government's plan allows for one-size-fits-all type of development, which is entirely at odds with the character of our beautiful and historical inner west suburbs.
There is little consideration of allotment sizes, building types or car parking and servicing within the established street network.
There are no details on essential community infrastructure, such as hospitals, childcare centres and schools. There are no details on commercial and industrial zoning, and no detail on quality job creation.
There are no plans for additional open space or sporting fields, which are already at a premium.
And most troubling of all is that the rezoning will take place a full 10 years before the Sydney Metro line is open, with Transport for NSW confirming that the existing train line will be closed while the metro is built. Under the Government's plans, that means there will be an extra 100,000 residents looking for seats on already crowded buses and trains. As I said, it is all back to front.
Under the Government's approach, the developer will be king, not the community. The developers' approach undoubtedly will spark land speculation, with no plans for value capture or levies on developers to fund community infrastructure, open spaces or affordable housing.
Local councils will be left to assess a series of individual and developer-driven proposals in isolation, which is not the way to enhance or grow a suburb. The cumulative impacts of each of those hotchpotch developments on parking, parks and other community infrastructure will not be assessed; nor will councils have the power to refuse them on those grounds.
Residents are rightly concerned about what those plans will mean, and they are rightly suspicious of a Government that refuses to consult with them meaningfully. The Government has scheduled very few information sessions, with less than one week's notice for the first session in Marrickville.
Initially the Government gave residents only six weeks to digest and respond to the plans. While I welcome the announcement of an additional two weeks, the period allowed for examination of the plans still falls well short of the time needed to adequately evaluate this plan, with its scale and complexity. But that should not be a surprise: It is a case of history repeating.
The Government has been forced back to the drawing board over and over again—including in relation to the Parramatta Road revitalisation—because the Government bungled the community consultation the first time. The Government has given residents only 55 days to respond to the environmental impact statement for stage one of Westconnex—all eight volumes and thousands of pages of it.
Once again, the community has been left with many questions and little opportunity to ask them. There is a better way.
We need density that is smart, sustainable and sympathetic to the character of our neighbourhoods.
We can do that by demanding that developers ensure quality construction and by levying developers to pay for community infrastructure, open space and affordable housing.
We can do it by promoting gold-standard architecture and planning that works with the existing pattern of streets and subdivisions. And we can do it by demanding quality jobs and services and infrastructure that promote active living.
What we need is an approach that accepts the need for growth but that recognises the things that make our suburbs great. A one-size-fits-all plan for excessive high-rise development is not the right approach. We can and must do better.