26 August 2013
The Hon Brad Hazzard
Minister for Planning and Infrastructure
GPO Box 39
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Dear Mr Hazzard,
MACROC Submission – Draft Structure Plan for the Broader Western Sydney Employment Area
MACROC welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Draft Structure Plan for the Broader Western Sydney Employment Area, released by the State Government in June 2013.
MACROC is the regional organisation of councils for the Macarthur area of South West Sydney. Formed in 1985, it represents the local government areas of Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly. MACROC’s role is to identify issues of regional importance and advocate for positive regional outcomes. Regional issues for the Macarthur region include managing population growth, transport infrastructure planning, employment generation, economic development and land use planning.
South West Sydney is the area targeted by the State Government to accommodate the major proportion of Sydney’s projected growth and the challenge for Government will be to develop a targeted strategic approach to specific forms of employment generation for our region, to building a workforce that better matches the skill set of the residents and that has a greater resilience to the changing economic futures of industries such as manufacturing.
MACROC understands that the Government in its Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney to 2031 recognises the Broader Western Sydney Employment Area as the largest employment space in the metropolitan area and one of the nine city shapers. The Draft Metropolitan Strategy identified the following priorities for the Broader Western Sydney Employment Area:
• Investigate the potential south west expansion of the WSEA of up to 10,000 hectares through a structural planning process.
• Encourage critical industries that support the economy’s global functioning and promote employment such as industrial uses, freight, logistics and research and development functions as well as opportunities for agribusiness and food production.
• Identify opportunities to improve connections to the area, including protecting a corridor for the Western Sydney Freight Line and completing the Western Sydney Employment Area arterial network.
• Identify and protect opportunities for a major intermodal terminal at Eastern Creek.
• Investigate opportunities for better connections with surrounding centres such as possible transport connections to Mount Druitt, Fairfield and Leppington.
MACROC supports the opening up of 6,329 hectares of land for employment uses on top of the 1,750 hectares of existing employment lands. The potential of the Broader Sydney Employment Lands to deliver 57,000 new jobs in Western Sydney over the next 30 years is most welcome. However MACROC believes that the Government also needs to focus on the employment needs of South West Sydney. The bulk of Sydney’s future population will be in the South West so the Government needs to proactively target employment generation here.
Transport access to employment and job diversity are two key employment issues for the Macarthur region. While the Broader Western Sydney Employment Area now extends to Bringelly there is no public transport access planned for our residents to be able to access the new jobs being created so unless they have their own transport they will be disadvantaged. Lack of public transport to employment areas impacts particularly on young people seeking traineeships and apprenticeships. If our residents are to access these jobs by private vehicle then there will also need to be major upgrades to road links, particularly in Wollondilly LGA.
The residents of Macarthur need access to a wide range of jobs. The focus of employment in the Broader Western Sydney Employment Lands is on blue collar jobs: freight and logistics. Our region needs employment opportunities that better align with the predominant skill set of Macarthur’s growing resident population.
The South West Subregion is acknowledged as having a key role in accommodating a substantial proportion of the future growth of Sydney. Despite this there is little in the Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney to 2031 that demonstrates a commitment by the Government to deliver key infrastructure and other projects which will support job creation. Without this commitment by the Government the relative inequities and disadvantage that exist for the Macarthur region will be further exacerbated.
In April 2013 MACROC engaged consultants Hill PDA to review the employment targets established in the Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney to 2031 for the South West Subregion, as defined in the Draft Strategy. ‘Employment Prospects for South West Sydney. 2013’ found that the South West Subregion is forecast to experience 21% of all job growth in Sydney which is the third largest growth of any Subregion. Notwithstanding this, it is forecast to achieve 37% of population growth (+449,610 people) which represents the largest single component of population growth of any Sydney Subregion.
Given the South West Subregion is forecast to provide 37% of Metropolitan Sydney’s population growth between 2011 and 2031, the South West Subregion should aim to capture 37% of Metropolitan Sydney’s employment growth. That would increase the current South West Subregion employment target from 134,000 to 229,125 jobs.
The Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney to 2031 identifies targets to support growth across Sydney. In doing this it recognises that “Planning for this growth in the right way will help to boost our economy and make Sydney a great place to work and live.” To achieve this objective, the Draft Strategy recognises the importance of creating jobs close to where people live.
While the Draft Strategy seeks to achieve these objectives by significantly increasing the targeted number of jobs to be generated in the South West Subregion, compared to earlier strategies and plans, as a proportion of population growth and by Subregion, the ratio of jobs has declined. In addition there has been no corresponding shift in planning to achieve this significant additional growth and relatively limited review or addition to the number of centres, employment areas or Government policies to refocus business into the South West Subregion other than the ambition for the area to become an even more significant location for housing growth.
The Draft Strategy lacks a targeted approach to specific forms of employment generation for the South West, to building a workforce that better match the skill set of the residents and that has a greater resilience to the changing economic futures of industries such as manufacturing.
The employment targets for the South West Subregion continue to be grounded on the BTS forecasts that are based on long term trends by industry and the historical trends of employment growth and industry profiles in the South West Subregion. MACROC believes however that to achieve real and positive change, the NSW Government must plan to readdress the reliance of the South West Subregion on sunset industries (old industries in decline) to sunrise (new industries expanding) that better align with the predominant skill set of the South West Subregion’s growing resident population.
The Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney to 2031 identifies targets and strategies to support growth across Sydney and acknowledges the importance of creating jobs close to where people live. However the focus of the Draft Strategy is on concentrating business investment, job creation and infrastructure provision within more established areas of Sydney, while merely setting housing and employment targets for the South West Subregion. This planning imbalance is not acceptable and the Strategy needs to be redrafted to provide real strategies to support job creation for our region.
The Draft Strategy also identifies specialised employment precincts. These specialised precincts have been identified for the promotion of growth and investment opportunities in places that ‘play an economic and employment role of metropolitan significance, sometimes associated with a hospital or university or an important business or office cluster’. There are no specialised employment precincts identified for South West Sydney, despite the fact that the Campbelltown/Macarthur region clearly satisfies the eligibility criteria having a strong cluster of the University of Western Sydney, Campbelltown TAFE, Campbelltown Public Hospital as well as rail and motorway access. The Draft Strategy undervalues the urban status of Campbelltown/Macarthur and MACROC considers that Campbelltown/Macarthur should be acknowledged as a regional city.
MACROC broadly supports the Draft Structural Plan for the Broader Western Sydney Employment Lands and welcomes the release of an additional 6,329 hectares of land for employment use and the prospect of an additional 57,000 new jobs for the residents of Western Sydney.
However in addition to the Broader Western Sydney Employment Area the Government also needs to focus on the employment needs of the Macarthur region. The bulk of Sydney’s future population will be in the South West so the Government needs to proactively target employment generation there.
MACROC seeks commitment from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and the Government that the inequity in the South West Subregion between housing growth targets and employment growth targets identified in the Hill PDA study will be addressed and that there will be a strong focus in the Metropolitan Strategy on the South West Subregion on establishing infrastructure and investment to provide economic drivers to ensure the housing and employment targets are met.
If the State Government is genuinely committed to delivering actual jobs close to where people live then that policy must be applied to Macarthur and South West Sydney. The Broader Western Sydney Employment Lands Draft Structure Plan provides for no proper access from the South West and it seems once again that the South West has been forgotten when the Government is planning infrastructure to connect residents to jobs in the new employment lands.
MACROC thanks you for the opportunity to provide input into the Draft Structure Plan for the Broader Western Sydney Employment Area. Our region is committed to working with the Government to ensure that the planning for Western Sydney delivers sustainable long term benefits for the residents of the Macarthur region.