Urban Renewal

(12.37pm 8 May 2012, Parliament House Sydney)

Urban renewal is vital to meet Sydney's housing needs in the face of rapid population growth. By 2031, Sydney will need to provide an extra 1.1 million dwellings. In 2010 a Department of Planning report found that increasing development in greenfield areas in preference to city urban renewal will have a net cost to government of $5 billion. Development on the city fringe also impacts on our food basin through loss of arable land and on native vegetation and biodiversity. The New South Wales Government target for the City of Sydney is 61,000 new homes by 2036. In 2008 the City of Sydney endorsed a housing target as part of our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan, and our new city-wide planning controls will provide about 85 per cent of the floor space needed to meet our target over its five- to 10-year life. The City of Sydney is meeting these housing targets by focusing responsible development in former industrial sites such as Ashmore, Green Square, Harold Park and the Carlton United Brewery site, while protecting historic suburbs such as Chippendale, Surry Hills, Redfern, Glebe, Erskineville and Alexandria. Mr Acting-Speaker, perhaps members could hold their conversations outside the Chamber?

Done well, with good design and essential infrastructure—especially transport, community facilities and open space—urban renewal can provide for liveable and sustainable communities. Recently demolition began on the Royal South Sydney Hospital to allow development of the Green Square urban renewal site, which will provide 22,000 jobs and new homes for more than 40,000 residents. The City of Sydney council is planning to provide vital community infrastructure at Green Square, including a community hall, a theatrette, a community centre, a library, public meeting rooms, artists' studios and a park. Trigeneration will enable Green Square to be a low-carbon precinct and filtered stormwater will flush toilets and water parks and gardens. Waste and recycling will be sent to a central collection depot through a network of pipes. But the regional road network will not be able to accommodate increased traffic from the urban renewal project because the project is located between the global city, the airport and the port. There is an urgent need to connect Green Square to the planned city light rail network.

The Ashmore precinct in Erskineville is a 17-hectare site that is changing from a light industrial zone to residential. Its urban renewal will provide 3,200 new homes, public open space and local services for the inner city. In 2010 the Department of Planning directed the City of Sydney to dramatically increase the height and density of the development from a planned nine storeys to 19 storeys. Outraged by this direction and after consulting with an equally angry community, the council undertook technical studies, which recommended that the height limits be scaled back from 19 storeys to the previous maximum of nine storeys. The City of Sydney recently put on exhibition a development control plan that reflects our preferred height and density limits—limits that I am very pleased to say are supported by the new Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. The development control plan will deliver new local streets, a small supermarket, a mix of new housing, bicycle lanes and 15,000 square metres of open space, including a central park of 7,400 square metres.

The City of Sydney worked with the community to prepare controls for Harold Park, which balances the need for new sustainable housing with significant public benefits. The redevelopment will include community facilities, affordable housing and restoration of the historic tram sheds. Thirty-five per cent of the site, or 3.8 hectares, will be converted from private open space to public open space—seven times the size of Glebe's Foley Park. The proposal will create 1,250 homes, about 500 jobs and almost two kilometres of cycleways. New units will meet higher energy and water efficiency targets. The Ashmore and Harold Park sites have access to public transport, but residents say buses and trains are already full during peak periods and local road networks are at capacity. The New South Wales Government sets housing targets and is responsible for transport infrastructure; it has a responsibility to ensure increased capacity on public transport in redevelopment areas.

In its recent submission to the NSW Planning System Review, the City of Sydney council advocated for better integration between land use and transport planning, and the need for firm commitments to transport where population density is increased. Urban renewal areas provide the State Government with high revenue through stamp duty, part of which should be reinvested back into areas to provide fast, efficient and reliable mass transit for new and existing residents, as well as open space and other community benefits. On behalf of the people of Glebe and Erskineville, I welcome the response to my request by the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure that he will work with the Minister for Transport to address the transport needs of the Harold Park and Ashmore developments. I call on the Government to provide a similar commitment for the 40,000 residents and 22,000 workers coming to Green Square and to urgently improve integration between land use and transport planning, particularly where population density is to increase and particularly in light of the failures of the previous Government.