TTF Leaders' Luncheon 2014

(12pm, Wednesday 31 July 2014, Hilton Sydney)

Thank you, Bruce [Baird]. Hello, everyone.

You asked me today to speak about the City's approach to integrating transportation and land use. That's a significant issue for us as we have no shortage of urban renewal sites demanding an integrated approach - whether it's Green Square or the smaller Ashmore Estate on the edge of Erskineville, or even in the City centre itself.

In the decade to 2012, the City was Sydney's fastest growing local government area, both in percentage terms, and in absolute numbers. Last year, the City added as many dwellings as Canterbury, Hurstville, Rockdale, Marrickville, Sutherland and Kogarah combined.

Our policy has always been to provide the needed facilities in tandem with the development. Trying to wedge them in as an afterthought only weakens the whole development, is usually more expensive and doesn't allow them to meet the standards expected of a global city.

There's probably no better example of that right now than the work we are doing at Green Square. With 278 ha and a projected value of $8 billion, it's the largest urban renewal project in the country.

An existing population of just over 21,000 is projected to rise to almost 53,000, with an additional 22,000 workers, within the next decade. Without adequate planning and proper facilities in place, this key area located between the airport and the city centre could be a disaster.

With the right planning and delivery of infrastructure, however, it can significantly boost Sydney's economy and we have staff working on that right now.

They have carefully plotted the work stages, both for the Town Centre and the surrounding residential areas, indicating the necessary works in transport, drainage, schools and services.

In Asia and Europe, such a significant project would have transport, services and facilities in place before the development is under way. And in this era of climate change, there would be infrastructure for renewable power, water reuse, and conservation of other resources. But not in NSW!

While the City has taken on much of the responsibility for the roads, essential services, open spaces and community facilities to the tune of $440 million over the next ten years, the State Government is yet to articulate how it will provides services and infrastructure like education, public transport and health care.

It took us years to get State funding for an essential trunk drainage system, and we've had to step into purchase part of a vital public transport corridor in the hope of future light rail.

As I said, it is a huge renewal precinct and much of the residential development is not close to Green Square Station. Congestion in this area is not just a local issue.

What happens there will affect Sydney Airport, Port Botany, the Eastern Distributor and critical connections between the eastern suburbs and western Sydney.

That is why we paid for a significant part of the transport corridor and are designing our new streets to be suitable for light rail.

We're continuing to press the NSW Government to see the sense in this and work with us to deliver it. Perhaps this forum will back us on that as you did on our earlier bid for light rail through the City centre. We met with the Minister last week.

Our 25-year integrated transport and land-use plan, Connecting our City, recognises the importance of tackling congestion and working with the State to provide reliable, safe and affordable services. It's good to see that most of our transport policies are reflected in the current Government's transport strategy. It's hard for political game-playing to compete with common sense, research and best practice!

Congestion is already costing Sydney about $5 billion each year and while Sydney does well in global rankings, it is constantly let down by transport.

Frustrated by the lack of action by the previous government, we did our own research to develop a CBD transport policy. And the light-rail project now under way to the credit of the Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, is a great example of planning and co-ordination between City and State, as is the work being done to implement actions from the State's City Centre Access Strategy.

The City has allocated $220 million for street improvements to help transform George Street into Sydney's great boulevard. This will pay for footpath widening, new tree plantings and street furniture, public art and refurbishment of the laneways connecting it to parallel streets, creating flow-on benefits to surrounding streets and of course wonderful public art.

We're planning great public art for Green Square and NSW Government / LendLease's $30 million Barangaroo public art together - all the development happening - those who use the expression would say its 'all about the City getting back it's mojo!'

Most people will still access the city via rail, and city station upgrades and interchange precincts will make a big difference for public transport users.

Other improvements will follow with the $7 million allocated in this year's State budget for detailed planning on the new Rapid Transit rail network and a second Harbour rail crossing.

The investment in a new Rail Operations Centre will modernise the railway and reduce delays but the improvements must continue across all forms of public transport.

Leadership in these areas is really important. Our introduction of cycleways caused a storm of protest and the Minister for Roads in the incoming State Government campaigned on ripping them up.

We stuck to our plans knowing they were backed by research and that they would benefit the city. Now our network is included in the State's transport plan and the Roads' authority is even building some of them for us! Eight new separated cycle-ways will be completed over the next two years, including Green Square to Central, and we're encouraging more people to walk by creating our Liveable Green Network.

And we will continue to push the case for extending the light-rail network particularly to Green Square, as the cleanest, most efficient and sustainable way for people to connect across the City.