GREAT WALL OF SYD­NEY

The de­vel­op­ment di­vid­ing line be­tween east and west

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - CAMP­BELL GELLIE

SYD­NEY has been split by a great hous­ing di­vide, with the con­gested west forced to suf­fer the con­struc­tion of thou­sands of new homes and tow­er­ing unit blocks while the wealthy east and north shore re­main rel­a­tively un­touched.

The dis­pro­por­tion­ate bur­den of de­vel­op­ment shoul­dered by Western Syd­ney has been re­vealed in a coun­cil break­down of res­i­den­tial build­ing ap­proval fig­ures — and is rapidly be­com­ing a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal is­sue.

The fig­ures show that Par­ra­matta signed off on 2305 ap­pli­ca­tions for houses or units in just five months to Novem­ber 2018 while Mos­man had just seven.

Over the same pe­riod Black­town ticked off 2159 build­ing ap­provals, The Hills dealt with 1230 and Liver­pool and Cam­den had more than 1000 each.

In stark com­par­i­son, there were just 18 in Hun­ters Hill and 105 in North Syd­ney while Wool­lahra and Waver­ley in the eastern sub­urbs had just 168 and 138 re­spec­tively show­ing the ex­tent to which they have been in­su­lated from Syd­ney’s grow­ing pains.

As mush­room­ing apart­ment tow­ers trans­form pre­vi­ously sleepy sub­ur­ban hubs to the fury of lo­cal res­i­dents, Lib­eral MPs are now protest­ing to their own gov­ern­ment.

Holswor­thy MP Me­lanie Gib­bons has taken her fight to Plan­ning Min­is­ter An­thony Roberts, ask­ing for a mora­to­rium on high-rise de­vel­op­ment in Moore­bank. He re­fused be­cause land was zoned for such a pur­pose.

Oat­ley MP Mark Coure this week took to so­cial me­dia to post “Stop Over De­vel­op­ment” be­cause of a nine-storey apart­ment block at Nar­wee in his seat of Oat­ley.

They fol­lowed Fi­nance Min­is­ter Vic­tor Dominello who suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned Premier Gladys Bere­jik­lian to put the brakes on de­vel­op­ment in Ryde amid fears he could lose his seat at the elec­tion be­cause of pub­lic anger.

Dubbed a “de­vel­op­ers’ Dis­ney­land”, Ryde had been lumped with an ex­tra 13,000 res­i­dents in five years. In De­cem­ber the Premier or­dered the Greater Syd­ney Com­mis­sion to re­view Ryde City Coun­cil’s town plan.

The com­mis­sion’s fiveyear hous­ing tar­gets push­ing coun­cils to build thou­sands of prop­er­ties by 2021 are fu­elling the de­vel­op­ment prob­lem.

Western Syd­ney sub­urbs are bear­ing the brunt of the tar­gets with Par­ra­matta rac­ing to build 21,650 homes while Black­town must add 13,950, Cam­den 11,800 and Liver­pool 8250. Ar­eas out­side of the eastern sub­urbs have nine of the top 10 tar­gets for new homes by 2021.

But wealth­ier sub­urbs have the low­est tar­gets. The tar­get for Hun­ters Hill is 150, Mos­man 300 and Wool­lahra 300.

The great di­vide has be­come a po­lit­i­cal bat­tle­ground with La­bor ac­cus­ing the gov­ern­ment of treat­ing the west with con­tempt.

“The Premier and her Plan­ning Min­is­ter love to play favourites and nowhere is it clearer than in the dwelling tar­gets,” shadow plan­ning

min­is­ter Ta­nia Mi­hailuk said.

“Syd­ney un­der the Lib­er­als is a tale of two cities when it comes to the rate of de­vel­op­ment and it’s grossly un­fair.”

Ms Mi­hailuk crit­i­cised the gov­ern­ment for “politi­cis­ing” plan­ning, say­ing the Premier halted de­vel­op­ment where it suited but al­lowed ram­pant con­struc­tion else­where.

Plan­ning Min­is­ter An­thony Roberts said La­bor’s plan was bad news for Syd­ney be­cause it would make homes more ex­pen­sive and hit jobs in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

“Care­ful plan­ning based on all the ev­i­dence will be cast aside be­cause La­bor wants to bring back un­planned chaos,” Mr Roberts said. “The only plan­ning pol­icy La­bor has is not to have a plan­ning pol­icy. When Michael Da­ley was Shadow Min­is­ter for Plan­ning for al­most three years he didn’t re­lease a sin­gle pol­icy.”

Mr Roberts said coun­cils’ Lo­cal En­vi­ron­men­tal Plans guided their plan­ning de­ci­sions and were “used to en­sure lo­cal de­vel­op­ment is done ap­pro­pri­ately”.

But he said it was no se­cret new mi­grants were at­tracted to Aus­tralia’s big cities, which has placed pres­sure on Syd­ney and Mel­bourne.

Syd­ney’s pop­u­la­tion is fore­cast to grow by 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple to 7.5 mil­lion by 2046.

Last year new laws were in­tro­duced re­quir­ing coun­cils to ob­tain the sup­port of the Greater Syd­ney Com­mis­sion for any lo­cal strate­gic plan­ning state­ment. The com­mis­sion was also given new pow­ers to re­quest in­for­ma­tion from coun­cils.

Liver­pool mayor Wendy Waller said the west was bear­ing the bur­den of Syd­ney’s growth “which needed to hap­pen in the right places”.

“We are do­ing the heavy lift­ing in the west,” Ms Waller said. “What we ask for is the in­vest­ment in in­fras­truc­ture to sup­port growth.”

She said there were new res­i­den­tial apart­ments in the Liver­pool CBD, close to trans­port and jobs, as well as con­tin­u­ing de­mand for hous­ing in new re­lease ar­eas such as Ed­mond­son Park and Aus­tral.

So­cial de­mog­ra­pher Mark McCrindle said de­mand for af­ford­able homes, in­fras­truc­ture and pol­i­tics were driv­ing the west’s de­vel­op­ment.

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing those liv­ing in the west are peo­ple busy liv­ing, pay­ing off their mort­gages, who are less po­lit­i­cally tied com­pared to the con­nected, well-in­formed parts of eastern Syd­ney that are able to lobby for poli­cies that suit them,” he said.

“Peo­ple in the eastern sub­urbs al­ready have ac­cess to good schools and shops for 50 years and have noth­ing else to gain from de­vel­op­ment so they are try­ing to pre­serve what they have.”

North Ryde cou­ple Ryan and Nicole Gooch are wor­ried at the prospect their house could be im­pacted by tow­ers.

“It’s gone crazy with de­vel­op­ment in the past two, three years,” Mr Gooch said.

They fre­quently at­tend a park on Hal­i­fax Road that is sur­rounded by unit blocks.

“Our place is on the other side of the road (from the park) and we hope they don’t built (high-rise) there that will over­shadow our prop­erty.”

Ryan and Nicole Gooch, of North Ryde, pic­tured with their son Harper, are wor­ried about the im­pact of high-rise units. Pic­ture: David Swift

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