This letter constitutes my formal submission to the exhibition of the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor – specifically the Dulwich Hill Precinct Plan, Marrickville Precinct Plan and Sydenham Precinct Plan.
This submission has been developed in accordance with the key concerns I have received from my community about these proposed plans.
The Inner West understands that as Sydney grows, we must accommodate density in the right places. But our suburbs are being asked to take far more than their fair share of density.
These plans will change the Inner West irreparably, undermining the diversity and character of our communities and placing further strain on our infrastructure and services.
These plans should be halted until plans for infrastructure - including schools, child care, open space and recreation space - have been delivered for our community. Only then will be in a position to properly understand the level of density our community can manage.
Please see below a number of key issues with the Sydenham, Marrickville and Dulwich Hill Precinct Plans:
Marrickville Precinct Plan/Sydenham Precinct Plan
a) Sydenham and Marrickville Boundaries
The boundary between the Sydenham Precinct Plan and Marrickville Precinct Plan confuses the true impact of the density in this area.
While the drawing of a boundary between the two precincts at Frazer Park visually separates the impact of eight storeys on Gerald Street, locals know that this area forms part of Marrickville.
The combined impact of the two precinct plans is 6,500 new dwellings, bringing with it pressure on Marrickville’s schools, open space and roads. It remains unclear as to whether the Victoria Rd Precinct, with an additional 1,100 units, is included in the projected growth for the Marrickville precinct.
b) South Marrickville
The key community impacts of the plans in South Marrickville will be felt at the intersections of streets such as Ruby, Warren, Renwick and Cary. These streets are set to see the proposed Carrington Road Precinct ‘jump’ the road, with eight storey buildings proposed at the eastern end of all of streets between Myrtle Street and Premier Street.
The current iteration of plans sees eight storey buildings adjacent to single-storey homes, with a stormwater drain delineating the zonings as “open space.”
These transitions will have a deleterious impact on the heritage and existing storeys behind them, raising residents’ concerns with overshadowing and privacy.
Residents have also raised significant concerns about traffic and parking in the local area, which are already under considerable strain. Richardson’s Crescent, Carrington Road, and local streets throughout Marrickville will be adversely impacted by the thousands of extra people proposed to live in the suburb under these plans.
Residents of South Marrickville have also raised with me concerns about the pressures density of this scale will place on the Cooks River, sewerage and utilities including water. Much of the area proposed for rezoning is low-lying – formerly the Gumbramorra Swamp, which regularly floods and is designated as industrial land following catastrophic floods in recent history.
There is considerable concern that these plans pose risks to residents and who move into these rezoned areas and their property.
Residents have also raised significant concerns about aircraft noise, particularly in the Carrington Road precinct, given the extremely close proximity of the precinct to Sydney Airport.
c) Petersham Road
The inclusion of eight storey buildings along Petersham Road threatens heritage homes and importantly, affordable housing.
Petersham Road and the rezoned areas around it are home to boarding homes, rental properties and affordable housing, all of which will be rezoned.
Historically, Marrickville has always provided affordable housing for locals and increasingly, this is being undermined by gentrification and developer-driven density. Whereas the State Government is focused narrowly on supply as a lever to cool the housing market, we know that these plans will provide nothing other than million dollar apartments.
Not only are there no plans for affordable housing in these plans, we will actually see a net reduction in affordable housing as we lose this invaluable stock. That will put more pressure on the local housing market and push key workers and those with lower socio-economic means out of suburb forever.
That is not the Marrickville we love and must protect.
Dulwich Hill Precinct Plan
a) ‘Low rise housing’
There are swathes of land in the Dulwich Hill Precinct Plan set for ‘low rise housing’, including vastly expanded areas around Riverside Crescent, Wardell Road, Myra Road and around Arlington Grove Station.
The language used in the Precinct Plan suggests that this will be a modest increase in building typology. However, the reality is that this zoning will result in the demolition of family homes and the construction of up to three and four storey apartment buildings.
This zoning will impact 25% of the Dulwich Hill Precinct and will change the entire character of the suburb.
b) Hercules Street and Terrace Road
The JBA Master Plan provided in Figure 18 and Figure 19 of the Plan, while not a concrete proposal, speaks to the drastic change the Dulwich Hill Precinct Plan will force in this community. This proposed planning amendments which could facilitate this level of development amounts to the full scale clearing of single storey family homes, which have existed in this place for decades, as shown in the 1943 imagery provided below.
Families have made their homes here for generations, and their broad scale destruction is an unacceptable outcome for our community. There appears to be no justification for this level of destruction, aside from the location of these homes adjacent to a light rail line. These plans must be significantly scaled back and these heritage communities protected.
c) Constitution Road
The proposed density around Constitution Road and Arlington Light Rail Station again will drastically change this community, and create significant amenity impacts on surrounding infrastructure. The proposal for eight storeys to the north of the school precinct will cast significant shadows over local schools, including play and outdoor areas. Again, the heights proposed in this location should be significantly reduced so as not to put significant pressure on local roads, an already overcrowded light rail system and impact the amenity of local schools.
There are significant issues surrounding infrastructure provision which are consistent across all precincts, outlined below:
a) Open space and recreation
This plan will place significant pressure on existing open space and recreation spaces, however provides no concrete plans for new open space. If the Infrastructure Projects Table provided at Section 8 of each plan is to be taken as the final list of priority projects, then there are three ‘open space’ projects proposed across the Marrickville and Dulwich Hill precincts, all of which are to provided as works in kind by developers.
We know that this means that developers will provide small ‘pocket parks’ surrounded by apartment buildings.
We will not receive the sporting fields, new playgrounds and new open space that we need to support 6,700 new dwellings in the Marrickville/Sydenham Precinct and the 2,000 new dwellings in Dulwich Hill.
Local recreational spaces and parks – particularly sporting fields – are already at a premium and these plans will only serve to place more pressure on already heavily over-utilised resources.
b) Heritage Impacts
While piecemeal heritage studies have been undertaken across the precincts, a holistic heritage study is urgently required to rectify the significant heritage and conservation impacts of this proposal. This should be undertaken as a matter of priority.
c) Schools and Open Space
In the recent NSW Budget, the Government funded no additional classrooms for Marrickville or Dulwich Hill, despite 75% of primary schools in our community being either close to or at capacity.
I note that the City of Canterbury-Bankstown has indicated that up to 36 new primary schools and 12 high schools would be necessary to meet the extra demands of the proposed 100,000 people along the corridor.
In contrast, only 4 new classrooms were budgeted for by the Government across the electorate of Summer Hill in this year’s budget. 75% of schools in my electorate are approaching or at capacity, with data showing that in Summer Hill there are seven schools with an individual maintenance backlog in excess of $500,000; Everything from toilet block upgrades, carpet replacements, fixing damaged roofs, to replacing windows has been put on hold.
Waitlists and costs at childcare centres across Marrickville continue to balloon, with little strategic leadership from the Government on how to meet demand.
(d) Loss of jobs and industrial land.
The mix of residential, commercial and industrial zoning in Marrickville is critical to the local economy and the character of our suburb. If approved, these plans will strip vital employment lands from the inner west and see a substantial loss in jobs.
I attach to this submission a recent academic article outlining community concerns as to the loss of industrial and creative spaces for residential rezoning.
I also raise the concerns of the community in relation to the prevalence of “shop-top” development, which has led to a significant number of empty shopfronts throughout the inner west. This in turn has had a deleterious impact on the local economy.
In accordance with the community concerns raised in relation to these plans, I propose the following amendments to these plans:
- Do not proceed with any rezoning until the required community and transport infrastructure is in place, particularly schools, hospitals, open space and public transport investment.
- Significantly reduce heights or remove the ‘jump’ of eight storey heights across Carrington Road into heritage streets.
- Significantly reduce heights along Petersham Road and surrounds;
- Reduce heights in the Constitution Road precinct to reduce infrastructure and amenity impacts.
- Stop the broad scale clearing of family homes in Terrace Road and Hercules Street;
- Develop a more holistic heritage strategy should be undertaken which considers the impacts in their entirety.
- Halt any further consideration of these plans until an environmental impact study for the Sydney Metro Southwest is exhibited, consulted on and given planning approval. Under no circumstance should the community be forced to accept mass rezoning when they haven’t had the opportunity to have their say on the project it is predicated on.
I also ask for the serious consideration of the recommendations of residents, including those made by groups such as Save Dully and Save Marrickville South.