Going up: next decade will see food hubs and high-rise

Higher-density residential development along Parra-matta Road, increased building heights at the Town Centre, a food hub next to Sydney Markets and new business parks to attract jobs are among the highlights of Strathfield’s plans for the next decade, which went on show this month.

The town square is to be reclassified to allow for events like weekend markets, while a mixed business and residential area is proposed in Homebush, north of the railway station.

The environment and heritage are singled out, with a full list of protected areas. Bushland, including Cox’s Creek Reserve and Mason Park Wetlands are to be rezoned to help protect endangered species such as the green and gold bell frog.

The Local Environmental Plan, or LEP, is a blueprint for the area’s development up to 2022. But it will have a significant impact on residents and their amenities beyond that.

The plan is on display until 23 March, after which residents’ submissions will be considered, a new draft drawn up if needed and the final plan forwarded to the planning minister to be gazetted into law. A first information session has already been held, seeing residents, developers and business owners question council staff.

 

Mix of old and new

Essentially the plain is a conservative one and sees much of the area’s character unchanged. Strathfield will remain a mainly residential suburb containing many of Sydney’s finest heritage homes and parks.

“The draft LEP predominantly preserves the existing zoning, controls and land uses outside of the centres and promotes sustainable growth to ensure new development does not create adverse impacts on the local community,” Strathfield Council says in the plan.

But there are significant areas where council planners have produced new ideas in an effort to attract developers to meet the objectives of 8300 new homes and 1500 new jobs by 2031 set by state government as part of the Metropolitan Strategy.

Higher density housing and mixed commercial and residential buildings are being encouraged near public transport to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home.

And industrial parks will tempt high technology and light industries to capitalise on Strathfield’s location close to the CBD.

Government planners passed the draft LEP just before Christmas. It is the first new LEP in more than 50 years, although there have been other plans and amendments in between.

The demography of Sydney has changed dramatically in that time and the government has exerted huge pressure on councils to increase home building and free up land.

Planning is one thing. Making it happen by attracting developers and funding is another. So Strathfield’s LEP contains incentives such as including height and floor space ratios, designed to encourage developers to invest while maintaining the amenity of the municipality.

 

Incentives to develop

David Hazeldine, the strategic planning manager, who led Strathfield Council’s team behind the draft LEP, told the Scene: “There are numerical objectives: 1500 new jobs by 2031 and 8300 new homes – we have already got a great deal of that capacity in the zoning.”

The team, he said, only had to find an additional 1830 dwellings to meet the 2031 target because of previous rezoning work.

But Parramatta Road, for instance, already has a lot of “unbuilt capacity”, Hazeldine said.

So new zoning allows for land uses to revitalise older parts of the road, including light industrial developments at Telopea Avenue beside the Campus Homebush Business Park, and higher densities of residential apartment blocks, particularly at road intersections.

The idea is to lure developers with better returns on their investment.

“We create the opportunity for these housing and units to be constructed,” Hazeldine said. “We are making it more attractive for development by fine-tuning the controls.”

In Parramatta Road’s case, that means a maximum height of between five and 13 stories or up to 42m. Those who agree to develop complete parcels of land will receive a greater height or floor space ratio.

The Town Centre, where it is hoped a new bus interchange will be the trigger for a redevelopment of buildings like Strathfield Plaza, which has a height restriction of up to 54m – meaning owners Memocorp could add to their building.

The draft LEP is designed to work in tandem with the Town Centre master plan, now awaiting funding for detailed design work.

On job creation, Hazeldine said: “Strathfield has the largest amount of industrial-zoned land in the inner west. The philosophy is to keep the industrial land preserved ... the state now recognises the objective to preserve industrial land to cut down travel to and from work.”

“We looked at modernising the controls – this will make it easier for people to develop appropriately in those zones.”

Hazeldine says there has already been considerable interest from developers with their eyes on Strathfield. “They are just waiting to find out what the final plan is.”

Residents, business owners and developers turned out for first of three community forums, raising issues including the Parramatta Road corridor, the Town Centre and development on Liverpool Road in Strathfield South. 

Concord resident, Ken Wan said he was worried traffic conditions would worsen on Parramatta Road if higher density areas were approved. 

"There is already a great traffic problem on Parramatta Road," he said. "Even though I don't live in Strathfield, their future plans affect other councils around them. Higher density housing on Parramatta Road means more traffic on an already heavily congested road."

But business owners and residents of Strathfield, George Staikos and Hab Lahood said they want council to lift restrictions on Liverpool Road so developers are able to build high density housing. 

"We are going to make a submission to council to change the restrictions on Liverpool Road," said Labhood.

"The property on Liverpool Road is not worth as much because the housing is still classified as medium density, rather than high density. It's not appealing for developers to buy because they are unable to build high density homes, which Strathfield needs."

Staikos said if the inner west was to accommodate for its growing population, Strathfield needs to lift building restrictions to accommodate for more apartments. 

"The inner west is suppose to accommodate for another 18,000 homes in the next few years," he said. "Where are we going to put them? Liverpool Road is not being utilised to its full potential." 

 

 

Where you can see the plan

  •   On line at www.strathfieldlep.com.au. The site features a plain-English guide, fact sheets, and an interactive mapping tool to enter your address and see what the plan has in store for your home and neighbourhood.
  •   The plan and detailed maps can be viewed at customer service in Homebush Road, or at the libraries in Rochester Street, Homebush or High Street, Strathfield.
  •   Information sessions will be held on Saturday, 11 February, at the Strathfield Town Centre between 10am and 1pm; on Friday, 24 February at the High Street Community Library at the same time; and at Strathfield Library on Monday, 5 March between 4pm and 7pm.
  •   There is an information line on 9748 9995 and there are Korean- and Chinese-language version of leaflets available on request at strathfieldlep@strathfield.nsw.gov.au.
  •   The public exhibition period ends on 23 March.

Have  your say

  •   Attend the information sessions to hear what council experts have to say, and question them about your concerns. There will be submissions forms at each session.
  •   Post submissions to Strathfield Council, PO Box 120, Strathfield NSW 2135, or electronically via email at strathfieldlep@strathfield.nsw.gov.au or at www.strathfieldlep.com.au. The deadline for submissions is 5pm on
    23 March.
  •   A public hearing will be held after 23 March over the proposal to change the use of the Town Square.

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