New Sydney Metro line approved but urban renewal lags behind

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While the planning approval of the Sydney Metro from Chatswood to Sydenham spells good news for residents and commuters, there is a lack of certainty for developments around the stations and areas surrounding the rail corridor, notes the Urban Taskforce.

“The planning approval of the Sydney Metro, including tunnels under the harbour, demonstrates the commitment of the Baird Government to an extensive metro network across metropolitan Sydney,” said Chris Johnson, chief executive officer of the Urban Taskforce.

“Along with the Metro West line between Sydney and Parramatta, the Metro network sets the framework for extensive areas of urban renewal around the new stations, which will help boost [much-needed] housing supply.

“The Urban Taskforce is concerned, however, that planning for the urban renewal of areas around the rail corridor is taking far too long. Developers have no certainty and cannot proceed with housing projects as strategic land use planning around the metro is lagging far behind.”

Johnson held the Sydenham-Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor Strategy as an example. While the draft Strategy was exhibited by the Department of Planning in October 2015, rezoning proposals for areas along the Corridor are currently on hold until local councils can prepare detailed planning controls. According to Johnson, this could take an additional two years, and could drag on for longer if the council is subjected to an amalgamation before the local environment plan is complete. 

“Developers simply cannot sit on land for that long with no outcome,” he said.  
“Until planning around these corridors comes up to speed, the NSW Government must fast track plans around metro stations or develop a process where landowners and developers can obtain a development approval or rezoning in significantly less than 3 years.

“The Department of Planning’s Guide to Preparing Planning Proposals, issued in August 2016, states that the rezoning proposals have merit ‘if they are consistent with relevant district, corridor or precinct plans applying to the site, including any draft regional, district or corridor plans released for public comment.’ It seems that the Greater Sydney Commission Planning Panels are not following this guide.

“Boosting Sydney’s housing supply is absolutely critical if we are to alleviate the housing affordability crisis. It is an excellent time to fast-track planning proposals for new housing around proposed metro rail stations.”

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