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Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release April 2005
Sydney Morning Herald - 1
Hi SOS Members
In today's Sydney Morning Herald on the comments page is an opinion piece on the Australian Institute or Urban Studies Seminar I addressed on 10 March (which I told you about in the SOS newsletter of 11 March). The opinion by architect Rodney Jensen refers to the other three seminar speakers by name but not to me or SOS. The article concludes with recommendations on what should be done about Sydney's planning. You can see it reads:
"there have to be incentives to encourage significant numbers to relocate outside Sydney. Better infrastructure, subsidised services, high-speed accessibility and advanced communications are some of the resources which could convert regional areas with dwindling populations into growth centres.
"Since we are talking about Sydney and NSW 25 to 30 years into the future, the planning decisions we make now are critical. The vision being developed doesn't seem visionary at all. Over such a time scale our thinking should surely be forward, not backward".
If you refer to the SOS newsletter of 11 March you will see that at the seminar I said:
"Save Our Suburbs believes that, if it is necessity to accommodate an increasing population, new self-sufficient satellite cities adjacent to Sydney should be developed. These cities should have effective local public transport and be designed from scratch to encourage walking and cycling - shops, schools, recreation areas and workplaces must connect with nearby residential areas. And these cities should be sensitively sited with green belts, underground electrical cabling, energy-efficient buildings, drought-resistant plants and water reuse downstream. Further, they should be linked to Sydney by very fast transport and communication facilities.
"Because it is responsible for immigration the Commonwealth must provide some leadership. The Commonwealth should fund, or significantly subsidize, necessary infrastructure and employment opportunities. There should be workable incentives like income tax concessions for those who set up a business or work in these cities."
So, not only has Rodney Jensen studiously avoided mentioning us, he has put forward the ideas I suggested as his own.
The problem gets worse. Over the past couple of years the Sydney Morning Herald has persistently refused to allow any mention of Save Our Suburbs in its reports or publish any opinion articles I have submitted to the paper. This email is getting a bit long so I shall not elaborate further on this subject. However I shall send a separate newsletter on this aspect for those who are interested.
The full opinion piece by Rodney Jensen is reproduced below.
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)
Vision for city's future akin to nightmare
April 7, 2005
There must be better ways to encourage people to live outside Sydney, writes Rodney Jensen.
The grim realities of Sydney's expansion plans were brought into perspective at a recent meeting of the Australian Institute of Urban Studies (NSW) . Titled Urban Consolidation - Blessing or Blight, the seminar was calculated to provoke heated discussion, but many were unprepared for the depressing statistics facing the city.
Over the next 25 to 30 years, Sydney will have to cater for an estimated 640,000 new dwellings and workplaces for 500,000 people, says Alice Spizzo, the executive director in the Office of the Director-General of Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources and spokeswoman for the department. And under the Government's "urban consolidation policies" much of this residential growth - nearly three-quarters - will need to be accommodated in established areas, with the balance on the fringe in "green fields" land in the north-west and south-west of Sydney.
In other words, the equivalent of Adelaide's population must be accommodated in as little as a quarter of a century - a daunting prospect, particularly since much of the growth is to be tacked on to what is an already over-large metropolitan region.
It is against this backdrop that
this week's remarks on planning by the Minister for Roads, Michael Costa, reveal
the degree to which the Government is in disarray over fundamental issues regarding
transport and development as work continues on the metro strategy.
While most government planners support increased densities at Sydney's fringe and in wide-scale redevelopment of established areas, some residents continue to fight a rearguard action against "infill development" to preserve traditional detached houses and gardens. Genia McCaffery, the Mayor of North Sydney and president of the Local Government Association, talked of being besieged by residents who don't want to see this form of change.
Pivotal to rising density is the ability of public transport systems to substitute for car transport. Equally obvious is the fact that a different type of public transport system must be considered in what will remain an extremely spread out city at relatively low density by world standards, even with efforts by planners to increase densities.
Despite local opposition to change, the architect of urban consolidation in his former role as senior planner with the State Planning Authority, Dr John Roseth, argues that this policy has been effective. "We see an awful lot more flats now than we used to," he says. Demographic change, with the majority of households now containing two persons or fewer, would support more flats and less picket-fenced suburbia.
But many examples of consolidation by infill development have resulted in dysfunctional building relationships and unhappy neighbours. Few local councils have proactively embraced consolidation by zoning enough of their land for higher-density development.
Of equal concern is the fact that state planners seem to have all but rejected decentralisation - the main planning alternative to an expanding Sydney. As Spizzo says: "Decentralisation has been tried and been unsuccessful. A 50 per cent increase in the population of the regional centres, if that could ever be achieved, would only put back Sydney's growth by six years." There have been failures to erect new cities or stimulate existing ones in the past, most notably, South Australia's ill-fated Monarto and Multi-Function Polis and the Bathurst Orange Growth Centre.
The Howard Government has taken virtually no interest in national planning since its election nearly 10 years ago. At the same time, the State Government needs to rethink the rejection of decentralisation out of hand. The Australian Institute of Urban Studies has developed plans for an urban expansion corridor linking the main town centres along the freeway route between Sydney and Canberra, with a high-speed train linking the two cities - a strategy worth examining. Similarly, Wollongong and Newcastle have the infrastructure to accommodate significantly larger populations.
While putting a brake on city growth by draconian means has never worked, there have to be incentives to encourage significant numbers to relocate outside Sydney. Better infrastructure, subsidised services, high-speed accessibility and advanced communications are some of the resources which could convert regional areas with dwindling populations into growth centres.
Since we are talking about Sydney and NSW 25 to 30 years into the future, the planning decisions we make now are critical. The vision being developed doesn't seem visionary at all. Over such a time scale our thinking should surely be forward, not backward.
Rodney Jensen is a Sydney-based architect planner.
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