The rebuilding of Homebush

It may be just 20 minutes from the city by train, but Homebush is still a place where local shopkeepers remember you by name and baristas brew your favourite coffee as you park the car.

The suburb immortalised by Thomas Keneally in his book Homebush Boyhas
a unique village feel. But all of that is about
to change.

Under a NSW Government plan to rejuvenate Parramatta Road and house Sydney’s population increase, Homebush has been earmarked to accommodate
31,238 people – 43 per cent of the road’s new residents. That would be more than 17,000 new units – more than three times the 4,693 units proposed under Strathfield’s 2012 Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

After the shock of the announcements had passed, the question on everyone’s lips was: how will we cope?

There have been few answers to date.

But now, at last, UrbanGrowth NSW has published details on the project. And Planning Minister Rob Stokes agreed to speak to the Sceneabout the government’s promise to create a new Homebush – a judicious mix of the future and the past.

According to UrbanGrowth NSW and Mr Stokes, the Homebush Precinct, which includes North Strathfield and Concord West, will get 44 new primary school classrooms, 42 secondary school classrooms, five childcare centres, three community centres, three new local parks, a priority bus lane, potential light rail along Parramatta Road and more beds at Concord hospital.

“UrbanGrowth NSW has worked closely with the NSW Department of Education and communities and the two Local Health Districts in the area to ensure future population growth can be supported by adequate education, health and other facilities,” Mr Stokes said.

The creation of the new precinct will see more jobs created, as well as the hope for a bustling and vibrant community area – one to rival Central Park in Chippendale.

“The Homebush Precinct has the potential to be a vibrant hub, taking in railway stations at Strathfield, North Strathfield, Concord West and Homebush,” said Mr Stokes.

“We want to build upon the Bakehouse Quarter and create a dynamic main street environment on Parramatta Road and George Street. The whole precinct will be well connected for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users and drivers.”

By 2050, the North Strathfield, Homebush and Concord West precinct is expected to grow from 4,693 residents to a whopping 31,238, with 17,354 new homes and
12,356 new jobs.

Residents have told UrbanGrowth and the planning minister of their concerns that the increase in density would put a strain on local schools and hospitals, and destroy the character of the close-knit community in Homebush.

And with the reduced number community consultation sessions outlined by the previous planning minister, Pru Goward, many were worried about the lack of consultation.

But earlier this year, Strathfield MP Jodi McKay and Mr Stokes announced that in a bipartisan effort, they would open up community consultation. Something the previous planning minister refused to do.

“The minister is now going to meet the 10 councils [along the Parramatta Road corridor] and that is very important,” said Ms McKay.

“There is a will by the councils to take part in this, because they understand the housing pressure we face, but it has to be done right.

“It is a respectful approach and what the residents kept saying over the past six months is that there hasn’t been enough communication. This project needs a bipartisan approach to allow the community to have a say.”

UrbanGrowth has now released the strategic plan, after community feedback
for the eight different precincts along Parramatta Road.

“Homebush residents will benefit from the new and improved public facilities made possible by future growth,” said Mr Stokes.

“This means improvements to public transport, open spaces, community facilities and well-connected pedestrians and cycle networks.

“There will also be diverse new housing options, which will help meet future population needs and strengthen the sense of place in Homebush. 

“This is an exciting time for Homebush and the entirety of Sydney where, through good planning, we have the chance to see the community grow and flourish into the future as Sydney develops as a whole.

“UrbanGrowth’s Open Space and Social Infrastructure Reportoutlines the future requirements of green space, childcare, schools and community health centres for each of the eight precincts, one of which is Homebush.”

There will be improved cycle and pedestrian connections along Powells Creek to connect Bicentennial Park to Homebush Station, upgrades to Homebush Station and Parramatta Road public domain improvements.

“Homebush precinct has four railway stations and is also close to Flemington. The Urban Amenity Improvement Program proposes upgrades to the entry of the Homebush Station, which include paving and landscape,” said Mr Stokes.

“There is also potential scope for priority bus measures along Parramatta Road, a new suburban bus route from Parramatta to Burwood and a Hurstville to Macquarie Park rapid-transit bus route.

Under the new plans, UrbanGrowth has proposed an increase in height restrictions for new-built apartments.

Under Strathfield’s LEP, Council has restricted the building heights to 11 storeys.

But UrbanGrowth has outlined in its plan that it will increase the height restrictions to 25 storeys.

“We know the height restrictions exceed what Strathfield Council’s LEP has outlined, but this is a prime spot for new residents – it is the middle of four railway stations,” said a spokesperson for UrbanGrowth.

“We have seconded council staff from several of the councils along Parramatta Road, including Strathfield, to work with us.

“We are happy to work with Strathfield Council on determining a height which works for both parties and what we expect is for Council to submit through a proposal on any issues they have with the strategic plan.”


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