Sydney tackles sustainable development

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More than two-thirds of NSW residents think Sydney is “full” and that property development should be pushed to the fringes of the city, according to a new poll conducted by ReachTEL for Fairfax Media.

With plans to construct hundreds of thousands of apartments in Sydney’s priority precincts over the next two decades, the poll shows that 66.4% of NSW residents oppose more development in existing areas to accommodate a growing population, 22.8% support more development, and 10.7% say they’re undecided.

These long overdue discussions on how to sustainably grow Sydney must be centred on questions around “what we want from our future, not what we don’t,” according to Jane Fitzgerald, NSW executive director for the Property Council of Australia.

“Our children and their children deserve to have jobs and homes near us, their parents, in the decades to come so sustainable growth that meets the demands of a growing population is critical,” Fitzgerald said.

“Sydney is growing whether we like it or not and we need to make sure this growth … delivers as many benefits as possible. Burying our heads in the sand and simply saying ‘we’re full’ didn’t work in the past, and it won’t work now. It’s simply not fair to tell our kids they can’t raise their families where they were raised.”

Fitzgerald said a growing Sydney doesn’t have to translate into unchecked development. “Growth means not only more homes – at more affordable prices – it also means more schools, hospitals, new roads and transport options and green spaces,” she said. “The property industry and the community agree on this.”

Strong political leadership on this issue is critical. “We must start with a question of what we want from our city, our built environment and our shared future rather than a Mexican standoff that will result in poor outcomes.”

“We must also work with facts and data on measuring and analysing our city’s development, as the Greater Sydney Commission and Department of Planning are doing, so that we [can] make decisions on what is actually happening, not what we believe is happening in our city,” Fitzgerald said.  

The Greater Sydney Commission, which was established last year to spearhead planning and development issues, says the city will need approximately 725,000 additional homes over the next two decades to accommodate a growing and ageing population.

Even without further population growth, the commission said the city will still need an additional 140,000 homes during this period due to the anticipated decline in the size of the average home, as empty nesters and singles boost the demand for suitable dwellings. 

The top five local government areas that are slated to experience the most development over the next five years are Parramatta (21,450), Sydney (18,250), Blacktown (13,600), Canterbury-Bankstown (12,200), and Camden (11,800).

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