MACROC welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Department of Planning and Infrastructure discussion paper “Sydney over the next 20 years”.
The MACROC Councils, Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly, recognise the importance of integrated long-term planning within the State Government’s overall vision for the future of Sydney’s growth and as a region welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the government to achieve positive outcomes for Sydney as well as for South West Sydney.
MACROC understands that this document seeks input to update the original Metropolitan Strategy released in 2005 and would hope that submissions made in 2010 to the Metropolitan Strategy Review Discussion Paper “Sydney towards 2036” would be incorporated in the draft Metropolitan Strategy due to be released later this year.
MACROC is pleased that the new Metropolitan Strategy, a 20 year plan, will be linked with other strategies currently being prepared: the Long Term Transport Master Plan and the State Infrastructure Strategy, both 20 year plans as well as drawing on objectives from “NSW 2021: A plan to make NSW number one” (a 10 year plan). MACROC acknowledges this as recognition from the State Government that for Greater Sydney to prosper there needs to be coordination between housing, infrastructure and employment opportunities, in other words integrated land use, transport and infrastructure planning.
Notwithstanding, the delivery of integrated land use and transport commitments is essential to the success of any metropolitan strategy.
MACROC would like to offer the following comments:
Housing our growing population
Should the Strategy continue to focus greenfield housing on the South West and North West Growth Centres or should additional effort be applied elsewhere on Sydney’s fringe?
MACROC believes that greenfield housing should continue to focus on the South West and North West Growth Centres to ensure that sufficient government resources remain available for infrastructure provision.
Isolated and fragmented pockets of greenfield development that are not located close to public transport, jobs and services should be minimised. However if development does occur in these areas then sufficient infrastructure should be provided by the developer with no cost to the State Government or to Local Government.
In Macarthur, access to adequate transport is one of the major barriers to residents accessing key services in South West Sydney. Many key services for Camden and Wollondilly residents are located in Campbelltown. Without substantially improved connecting intra-regional public transport and road infrastructure, residents in developments not located close to existing public transport are forced to rely on private vehicles further adding to severe congestion.
Should the Strategy place more emphasis on development in existing areas? If so, where are the best places?
MACROC supports a balanced approach to the provision of future housing opportunities, both within the Macarthur region and across the Sydney metropolitan area more generally. This means a distribution of new housing at both the fringe and around existing business/transport hubs.
However increased population in these areas will expend increased pressure on existing services.
Accordingly, a sound understanding of the development capacities of infrastructure in existing areas must be gained prior to committing to any substantial increases in density. Improvements may need to be made to transport and other infrastructure before or at least, at the same time development occurs.
MACROC considers there should be continued recognition of the potential for urban renewal across existing developed areas of Sydney, in the Metropolitan Strategy, as this has the potential to make the best use of existing resources and goes some way to offsetting the demand for housing at the fringe.
However the planning and development of centres should not be undertaken by means of a blanket approach; rather there should be a policy that can be tailored to each specific and appropriate location, even though planning controls should strive for consistency wherever possible.
Importantly environmental and heritage assets also need to be considered when framing such a policy, as they can often have significant benefits for local communities, both existing and future.
Should housing targets continue to be applied to all local government areas in Sydney?
MACROC believes that all local government areas in Sydney should have housing goals; however these goals should be established after determination of infrastructure capacities and always in collaboration with the local council.
How can the Strategy ensure that council plans support the delivery of housing?
MACROC supports the Metropolitan Strategy Review’s focus on the hierarchy of centres however believes that Campbelltown-Macarthur should be elevated in status from a Major Centre to a Regional City Centre given it’s significant attractions and drivers for growth: Macarthur Square Regional Shopping Centre, fast train route to the CBD; University of Western Sydney Campus (including the Medical School), Campbelltown Hospital, Macarthur Square and The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. Changing the status of Campbelltown-Macarthur would help transform the area into a more sustainable region that has the potential to provide significant opportunities in terms of economic investment, employment, health, education etc.
A vibrant centre is one that is active both day and night, is safe and well connected with community space. The Draft Centres Policy needs to encourage vibrant centres by making a mix of land available, by offering planning and financial incentives and by adopting flexible planning controls to encourage sound development outcomes.
Should the Strategy identify a role for the NSW Government to facilitate housing development in existing areas? If so, what should that role involve?
The NSW Government could facilitate housing development by providing greater certainty and flexibility in terms of planning decisions. It is also vital that the Government ensure that there is certainty associated with the timely provision of infrastructure. This would likely mean supplementing potential shortfalls in developer contributions in order to satisfy both hard and soft infrastructure needs.
How can the Strategy ensure a sufficient supply of affordable housing for our future needs?
Encouraging smaller houses on smaller blocks is one way of providing affordable housing. However it is important that the form of housing is appropriate to each location and that all forms of housing are designed to a high standard. An increase in housing diversity in the South West Sydney Sub Region needs to be accompanied by a firm commitment from the Government to provide sustainable transport and other enabling infrastructure.
Providing jobs and employment opportunities
How can the Strategy help Sydney’s economy become more productive and more sustainable?
The Strategy must help Sydney’s economy become more productive by planning and funding local economic development activities to help actively grow local economies. Relocating government offices from the Sydney CBD to regional and major centres would also boost local economies, would provide jobs nearer to where people live and would have the spin off effect of encouraging other businesses to relocate.
Improved rail and road access to employment lands would encourage investment and employment lands need to be protected from being developed for other purposes, particularly residential development.
How can the Strategy help provide Western Sydney with enough job opportunities across a range of sectors?
The State Government needs to work in closer collaboration with local government in providing new employment opportunities in locations that are accessible to the regional population.
If it does not, then South West Sydney will be condemned to even a greater mismatch between the number and location of jobs in relation to new housing.
This approach has been followed in Western Sydney since the 1960s and has been proven to fail in terms of congestion and all of the associated social and economic impacts arising therefrom.
The previous Metropolitan Strategy Review set employment targets for each local government area but provided no detail of how job opportunities would be delivered. MACROC trusts that the O’Farrell NSW Government’s Metropolitan Strategy includes strategies and programs to support the creation of new jobs and the retention of existing employment opportunities, to enhance regional economic productivity and diversity to the benefit of existing and future populations.
Sufficient and well located employment land in South West Sydney must be identified to facilitate a better match between jobs and housing numbers.
Agreement with local government is essential regarding the correct location of these employment lands. A wider but more targeted and strategic view of what permitted for zoned industrial land could encourage a broader diversity of employment opportunities that have specific relevance to the economic strengths of regions.
The MACROC commissioned report “Employment Prospects for South West Sydney”1 recommends that employment generation needs to be recognised as a priority planning consideration in the South West.” MACROC believes that the South West needs particular assistance from the State Government in terms of promoting and achieving economic growth.
MACROC would argue that while land zoning and flexible development controls can help encourage business to establish in new growth areas these need to be supplemented by Government incentives.
In addition the improvement of transport and infrastructure in the area would encourage the relocation of businesses to the South West.
The Government is requested to support the MACROC Councils to encourage the Macarthur Region to develop as a self sufficient and sustainable region, not a dormitory.
Uplifting the Campbelltown-Macarthur centre from Major Centre status to that of a Regional City will enhance the value of the South West and increase job creation.
It would also give Campbelltown-Macarthur access to additional funding avenues that would assist in securing future investment by the private sector in employment and infrastructure.
In terms of enhancing Sydney’s role as a global city, MACROC would like to make the following comment. Although current and proposed development and planning for the Sydney CBD would provide the employment growth capacity needed for the City, the State Government is encouraged to focus on how it can increase employment prospects for the sub regions of Greater Sydney.
The three Regional Cities, Parramatta, Penrith, Liverpool and the Major Centre of Campbelltown-Macarthur should be the focus of the Government’s efforts in terms future metropolitan job creation.
1 “Employment Prospects for South West Sydney” Hill PDA. August 2008
How can the Strategy ensure investment in services and infrastructure improves productivity and job diversity?
The Strategy needs to ensure that Sydney has sufficient and suitable employment land and make provision for an increase in the diversity of employment opportunities.
Communities need to be reassured that available local skills match available and proposed local employment opportunities, as much as is practicable.
Planning for economic development hubs will help to increase industry sector competitive advantage. In the South West the Strategy must assist by planning for and facilitating a Business Park in a suitable location.
Should the Strategy focus office-based employment in particular areas of Sydney? If so, where?
One of the goals of the Strategy needs to be creating jobs closer to where people live. However, for that to happen there needs to be positive incentives for business to establish in new employment areas, and this must involve government investment in terms of either (or both) financial incentives and the provision of enabling infrastructure.
What important transport links should the Strategy identify for improvement to boost economic activity?
The State Government is currently addressing a number of significant transport issues in South West Sydney however there are a number of important transport links that need to be fast tracked: the Turner Road Precinct (employment lands) relies on the upgrading of Badgally Road; Badgally Road also needs to be extended at sufficient capacity into the Campbelltown Regional City centre CBD to accommodate future growth and private sector investment; the Spring Farm Link Road needs to be fast tracked as it provides a critical connection which will alleviate congestion on Narellan Road and give alternative transport link between the Camden LGA and Campbelltown Macarthur. It will also provide access to the new urban release area at Menangle Park as well as future employment related development at Glenlee.
The provision of grade separation between Narellan and Kellicar Roads at Campbelltown will also remove major access constraints to the centre that currently drive people (and investment) away from the centre.
Providing effective transport networks
How can the Strategy ensure movement around Sydney is as efficient as possible?
Movement around Sydney could be improved by provision of public transport lanes; increased bus priority at intersections; ensuring that there is equity across all road users in the amount of tolls they are required to pay; increasing transit lanes and actively promoting their use; continuing the principle of maximising urban density close to transport nodes and investigating ways to reduce trucks/freight from urban areas.
Should the Strategy focus on developing new transport corridors that link areas in Sydney and help spread urban growth around the metropolitan area?
Cross regional connections particularly the north south connections are particularly vital to the efficient movement of people and freight across the metropolitan area.
How can the Strategy encourage more people to use public transport?
All users of public transport are entitled to a service that is reliable, responds to their travel needs and is clean and safe. In the outer areas of Sydney there is an additional challenge and that is getting people to use public transport. More express routes, bus priority lanes and other strategies and frequent services will encourage greater use of public transport. This is particularly important in new urban release areas where a public transport culture needs to be established amongst newly settling communities from day one.
In the Macarthur region there is a mix of transport modes as well as varying levels of efficiency. Some areas have very limited transport choices. To encourage residents to use public transport for the whole of their journey it is essential that bus transport is frequent and on time, that there are improved integrated timetables and better bus rail interchange facilities. For those driving to rail stations there needs to be secure parking areas. Integrated ticketing would also encourage the use of multiple modes of transport.
Should the Strategy encourage more people to walk and cycle? If so, how?
The provision of dedicated, safe, well lit cycle lanes with direct routes to major transport nodes will encourage more people to cycle as part of their commute to work. There will also need to be provision of cycle facilities where bikes can be left safely. Safe cycle and pedestrian crossing points will also encourage active transport. The Macarthur region has a number of walking and cycling paths but there needs to be additional funding for these paths to be linked.
Active consideration of the use of open space networks including stormwater management systems, to provide for cycle and pathway systems should be undertaken. In addition major rail and road systems need further consideration for inclusion of cycle facilities.
How should the strategy best integrate with the Transport Master Plan to support future transport investment, address congestion and facilitate access to major economic focal points such as East Botany and Mascot?
MACROC recognises that there is a need to improve the capacity of Sydney Airport and to address the issue of freight flow from Port Botany.
However MACROC does not support the development of a second international airport in the Sydney Basin and the final resolution of this question is essential for long term transport and land use planning of the Sydney Metropolitan area.
The State and Federal Governments study Joint Study on Aviation Capacity for the Sydney Region proposes an airport site at Wilton in Wollondilly LGA. Alternative options need to be rigorously explored including optimising capacity at Kingsford Smith Airport, overflow options at Bankstown or Richmond Airports, as well as the development of a high speed train that could connect the major cities as well as connecting to an international airport outside the Sydney Basin.
In terms of freight movements provision needs to be made for additional efficient inter-modal terminals as well as improved capacity to existing arterial roads particularly the M5.
How can the Strategy improve freight movements in Sydney?
MACROC supports investment to increase efficiencies in freight movements. Such efficiencies would reduce truck traffic on minor roads and minimise the impact on local residents.
Infrastructure Australia’s National Land Freight Strategy needs to identify what is required to achieve long term freight efficiencies and appropriate land and transport corridors need to be zoned and quarantined as part of the long term strategy.
Strategically located intermodal terminals would also assist effective freight movements.
Heavy vehicle use of local roads causes a number of problems including noise issues, damage to roads designed for lighter loads, loading impacts on bridges and culverts and lack of parking and rest areas for heavy vehicles. Funding arrangements need to be established to address the issues around road maintenance.
Freight is an increasing component in the demand on these road systems with significant impact on the urban fabric within the region. The arterial roads to be used by freight should be limited to those roads that are directly linked with the Hume Highway, and be provided with appropriate access to and from the highway system.
What key priorities should guide the Strategy to provide a better transport network between Sydney and regional NSW, cities in other States and cities in our global region?
The MACROC Councils oppose the development of a second airport in the Sydney Basin and believe that the Strategy needs to address this issue and identify other options. The Strategy provides the Government with the opportunity to look at creating better transport networks between Sydney and regional NSW as well as with other States.
Providing the infrastructure we need
What processes should be included in the Strategy to ensure essential infrastructure is in place at the right time?
The Strategy needs to develop strategic infrastructure plans and manage coordination of their implementation. An Action Plan should be developed and funded to identify what infrastructure is to be developed and when, and development in the outer metropolitan areas of Sydney needs to be prioritised and managed to ensure the timely delivery of both hard and soft infrastructure.
Which important corridors should the Strategy identify and protect for future infrastructure?
The Strategy should identify and protect important corridors needed for future infrastructure. In South West Sydney the South West Rail Link is a vital piece of infrastructure and corridors need to be preserved that will facilitate the future extension of this line further west. The Georges River Parkway will be essential should Macarthur South progress in the longer term.
Should the Strategy guide greater involvement from the private sector in infrastructure provision? If so how?
Public private partnerships will be necessary for infrastructure provision however the Government must adequately address issues of probity and equity when entering into such arrangements.
Should the Strategy consider new funding mechanisms for major infrastructure? If so, what could these mechanisms be?
A review of the NSW Planning System is currently underway so the Strategy should take into consideration any changes that result from the review. One critical issue however is the $30,000 per dwelling cap on local development contributions. This cap creates a critical shortfall in funding and limits local government’s capacity to provide communities with the infrastructure required, as well as disadvantaging existing and future communities.
What will be the likely impact on the Strategy of potential technological change (such as the NBN) over the life of the plan?
The Strategy will need have a contingency plan built in to allow for the effects of technological change and the ability to review the strategy to ensure it remains relevant in light of these changes as they occur.
Providing equitable access to a great lifestyle
What social planning actions in specific places could the Strategy concentrate on?
South West Sydney will accommodate a substantial proportion of Sydney’s growth as identified in the Metropolitan Strategy, so it is essential that there are carefully considered and targeted actions identified in the Strategy designed to ensure that future residents feel a strong sense of place and connection with their new community. There needs to be a commitment from the State Government to fund social infrastructure.
How can the Strategy ensure an adequate supply of adaptable and accessible housing for older people?
The Strategy could identify the need to fund housing for older people and improve the integration of different services to assist older people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
Protecting our environment and building resilience to natural hazards
How can the Strategy protect the environment while also meeting the housing and economic needs of a growing population?
The environmental assets and landscapes of the Sydney region make Sydney unique and they are a heritage as well as a tourism asset. They also provide visual amenity and an opportunity for leisure and recreational activities. The previous Metropolitan Strategy did not identify environmental (apart from climate change) and heritage issues so it is pleasing to see their inclusion here.
The Strategy needs to identify the protection and enhancement of biodiversity through active management and restoration of riparian and bushland corridors. Water quality must be an essential consideration in all future land use decisions, and the threats posed by coal seam gas and other mining operations must be dealt with.
How can the Strategy provide more support for environmentally sustainable development?
The provision of better more efficient public transport that responds to customer needs will mean a greater uptake of public transport use and less dependence on private vehicles. Concentration of residential development close to transport nodes will reduce private vehicle use and a review of BASIX and other initiatives that support environmentally sustainable development will encourage better urban outcomes.
The Strategy should advocate for the ongoing funding of environmental education centres. The Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living is a regional centre that promotes sustainable living. The MACROC Councils currently contribute to its operational budget but this is not a long term solution and a centre such as this should be considered as supporting the aims of the Strategy and long term operational funding should be provided.
How can the Strategy mitigate against the causes of climate change and what measures should it include to help Sydney adapt to the impacts of climate change at a metropolitan and local level?
Greater Sydney, particularly the South West, is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly in terms of a rise in extreme temperature levels. MACROC considers that good planning measures such as encouraging the use of renewal energy and recycling can have a positive impact on resource management.
However the most effective way of mitigating the effects of climate change and improve air quality would be to reduce the use of private vehicles. The State Government needs to give firm commitment to provision of better public transport, not just to the Sydney CBD, but for cross regional links as well. It also needs to maintain its commitment to not releasing new residential developments until adequate public infrastructure has been provided.
Maintaining the Sydney Basin’s green space will also help maintain better air quality and reduce heat levels.
Protecting our rural and resource lands
How can the Strategy strike the right balance between the land we need for housing and jobs and the land we need for agriculture, biodiversity and resource supply?
MACROC is a member of ‘Sydney’s Agriculture: Planning for the Future’ Agricultural Reference Group established by the former government. This Reference Group has been recently reconvened. The Reference Group previously informed and advised the Agricultural Working Group on issues around rural lands and solutions to improve land use planning for agricultural industries in Sydney. Agriculture in the Sydney Region: Working Group Report was released in November 2010. This report contains a number of actions to promote agriculture in the Sydney Basin. It identifies a number of issues impacting on continuation of agriculture in the Sydney Basin and suggests actions that could be taken to address them.
The issues that adversely affect agriculture in the Sydney Basin include:
- Loss of existing high value agricultural land to urban land use, particularly residential use
- Uncertain environment for investment in agriculture
- Conflict between agriculture and non-compatible land uses
- Complex and inconsistent regularly framework
- Minimal industry coordination
The Working Group Report also provides a number of suggested actions and these fall into the following categories:
- Agriculture and Food Policy
- Designating areas where agriculture has a long term future
- Better understanding of the needs of agriculture
- Improved industry coordination
- Better regulation
- Improved strategic planning.
The regulatory framework has key role to play in improved strategic planning for example in developing policy statements on agricultural lands in Sydney to guide local environmental planning.
There is still considerable “land banking” on the fringe of Sydney and that fuels speculation that this land is waiting for development. The State Government needs to examine options that quarantine and preserve high value agricultural lands, and send a message to the development industry that this land is not for development.
MACROC supports the containment of Sydney’s urban footprint and government regulation to protect high value rural and agricultural lands in the Sydney Basin. It also considers that more should be done to encourage sustainable food production in the Sydney Basin.
The policy of concentrating greenfield developments in the Growth Centres is a sound planning approach as it will help contain what in the past has been sprawling greenfield development, over what could be described as valuable agricultural land resources.
Connecting with the regions
How can the Strategy help grow and diversify the economic base of regional NSW to capitalise on opportunities in each region?
There should be acknowledgement in the Metropolitan Strategy that regional NSW can help address the issues around Sydney’s population growth. Regional centres in Europe are bigger and more confident than their Australian counterparts and with support from government have specialised in particular areas of industrial activities.
The debate about over planning for a growing population in Sydney should be viewed in the broader context of a national discussion on ‘settlement policy’ and the capacity and sustainability of cities across Australia. Regional areas are in need of more employment to provide for existing communities and to prevent population decline. Sydney does not need to accommodate the majority of population for New South Wales.
There needs to be a focus in the Metropolitan Strategy on the importance of stronger regional connections and of shared prosperity. With the National Broadband Network rollout there will hopefully be significant opportunities for telework and this will have a major impact on where people may choose to live. No longer tied to living close to work means that people could potentially make lifestyle choices about where they live and still maintain the same level of income earned compared to if they lived in a metropolitan area.
How can the Strategy take advantage of new technology such as high speed rail and the national broadband network to strengthen business connections between Sydney and regional NSW?
Investment in high speed rail will improve regional connectivity and stimulate the NSW economy and the roll out of high speed broadband will hopefully have a similar benefit. The Strategy should support investment in these areas.
Delivery in the Strategy
Should each action in the Strategy have clear accountabilities for delivery in terms of the agency responsible and agreed timeframes?
For the Strategy to be effective it is important that the Premier and Cabinet have a key role in ensuring its success. Each action in the Strategy should have clear accountabilities for delivery in terms of agency responsibility and agreed timeframes. There also needs to be sufficient resourcing of each action. Bi-annual reports would keep the public informed of progress and key performance indicators with time frames should be established for proposed infrastructure.
Given that South West Sydney is targeted to accommodate the majority of Sydney’s population growth over the next 20 years infrastructure provision for the region needs to be the Government’s major priority.
The Sydney Metropolitan Strategy and the South West Sydney Sub Regional Strategy need to clearly identify the infrastructure needed to provide for further growth and commit to the funding and provision of that infrastructure in a timely manner.
Both the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy and the South West Sydney Sub Regional Strategy need re-examine employment targets previously set, factor in the backlog of missing jobs in Western Sydney, then look at employment targets for the future.
The Strategy also needs to indicate how future employment targets are to be delivered. Strategies need be developed to encourage not only increased job numbers but also a diversity of employment choices, including a focus on attracting more white-collar jobs to the region.
The State Government needs to provide clear direction on how the employment targets for South West Sydney are to be met and what assistance will be provided by the Government to achieve these targets. The identification of suitable sites to best match the future predicted employment needs of the region needs to be undertaken in collaboration with local government on a coordinated sub regional level basis.
The provision of better public transport and improved inter regional connectivity are essential for the sustainable development of South West Sydney. Provision of better public transport has beneficial environmental effects, benefits for family and community, and provides the community with better access to health, education and employment.
The review of the Metropolitan Strategy and of the Sub Regional Strategies and integration of these strategies with the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan and the State Infrastructure Strategy afford the State Government, in consultation with local government, is an excellent opportunity to improve the long term strategic planning of the Sydney Metropolitan area.
The success of the Metropolitan Strategy will rely on strong leadership with the ability and determination to bring all key players together to achieve success, and the commitment of funding support.
This leadership needs to come from the Premier and his Ministry. While some areas of infrastructure planning may carry a degree of risk these risks can be minimised and all decisions need to factor in the cost to Sydney of doing nothing.
MACROC thanks you for the opportunity to provide input into the NSW Government’s Metropolitan Strategy. MACROC considers that the Metropolitan Strategy Review provides an excellent opportunity for the State Government, in partnership with local government, to develop a sustainable long term strategic and planning framework for Metropolitan Sydney.
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