How Strathfield will play a crucial role in Sydney’s future growth

Plan for Growing Sydney

The State Government has unveiled a new strategy for economic and population growth in Sydney – and expansion in Strathfield and Homebush are key planks in the plan.

Strathfield will become part of a “central” sub region and work with a new Greater Sydney Commission, with powers to ensure delivery targets are met.

The municipality will join Ashfield, Botany Bay, Burwood, Canada Bay, Leichardt, Marrickville, Randwick, the City of Sydney, Waverly and Wollahra – a massive landmass with a diverse range of community interests.

The Plan for Growing Sydney, revealed yesterday, will oversee enormous population growth up to 2031, ensuring jobs and housing are created near transport hubs and where people want to live.

UrbanGrowth NSW has already outlined ideas for over 16,000 new apartments in Homebush, and the plan confirms that the Parramatta Road will be on the front line in dealing with Sydney’s growth.

The plan – which can be viewed at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/sydney - is both an enormous opportunity and a challenge for Strathfield. 

Strathfield Council has already expressed strong reservations about some of the measures, though it is “general supportive” of the objectives.

A council submission made last year maintained the municipality is concerned about the central district’s size, its ability to represent diverse communities, the projected growth and infrastructure capacity, and the lack of information about how the sub regional groups will be governed.

More recently, council has pointed out the lack of detail in how community amenities like roads, parks, hospitals and schools will cope.

Not much in the document released by Planning Minister Pru Goward yesterday will give the council comfort. And it will increase worries over the State Government’s intentions on local council powers and amalgamation.

There seems little doubt that the Greater Sydney Commission will have the power, along with UrbanGrowth NSW, to push changes through any local planning or other controls to meet its targets.

But in an exclusive interview with the Scene earlier this month, Ms Goward spelled out the stark realities of the choices facing Sydney.  She urged communities to get involved in the planning process, or face the risk of finding themselves living in areas that “don’t reflect their interests.”

The document explains population growth will lead to huge pressure on housing, transport, health and schooling as well as public amenities.

A commitment to make Parramatta Sydney’s second CBD has led to suburbs in the East and South being overlooked in favour of those which will aid that development.

“Planning where people will live and work across Sydney, and how these places are connected to each other, will influence Sydney’s long-term success and the standard of living our communities will enjoy”, says an introduction to the plan.

“ It is critical not to repeat the mistakes of the past – dispersed housing growth that resulted in a sprawling and poorly connected city, complicated by unique geographic constraints. Planning for Sydney’s inevitable population growth has never been more important.”

Of the Parramatta Road precinct, the plan says: “The construction of WestConnex will allow for significant improvements to local amenity by reducing through-traffic on surface roads, and allowing for enhanced north-south local connectivity. The Government will investigate the feasibility of light rail along Parramatta Road for the length of the corridor.

“The corridor will be a focus for increased housing, economic activity and social infrastructure, especially around centres with good public transport access and amenity.

“An Urban Renewal Strategy is being prepared to guide development in selected precincts in the Parramatta Road Corridor and to bring new life to local communities. Burwood, Sydney Olympic Park and Rhodes will continue to be a particular focus for employment.”

The Greater Sydney Commission, expected to come into being next year will, according to the plan, work “in partnership with councils, the community and stakeholders”.

The Commission will “look at the ‘big picture’” It will have the power to monitor how local environmental plans and local strategic plans are impacting the targets set by the strategy for Sydney.

The plan says the Commission will bring 41 local government areas together into six sub regions.  Strathfield is in the central sub region.  West Central will include neighbours Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Holroyd, Parramatta and The Hills.

The plan maintains: “The Commission will take on a coordination role to help each sub region:

•  Identify places for housing and jobs which are close to transport and services

•  Identify new and improved services, such as public transport, that will be essential as communities grow

•  Improve local environments and open spaces

•  help create well-designed neighbourhoods and suburbs.”

The plan adds: “The Commission will monitor the progress to make sure the right homes, jobs, infrastructure and services are being delivered when and where they are needed. This will be done in close consultation with communities and everyone will get a chance to have a say.”

On development controls, the plans suggests: “The Government will issue a new local planning direction to councils so that when councils prepare new planning proposals or update local planning controls, they will be consistent with the vision and the guiding principles of this Plan.

“This local planning direction will apply to all 41 Local Government Areas in Sydney. The Government will also use sub regional planning to help translate the vision and guiding principles of this Plan into more detailed priorities for growth and change that can be applied at the local level.”

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