More Urban Sprawl
It’s an unreal world we live in.
Canberra runs a high annual immigration intake. This increases the pressure on our cities. As a result Australian cities sprawl. Governments cannot build new rail lines to every new suburb.
We have debates about immigration numbers and public transport without consulting urban densities. An unreal world.
The previous government in NSW decided, quite sensibly, to require more apartment dwelling around train stations in Ku-ring-gai Municipality. Just as there are apartment dwellings around train stations at Chatswood, Bondi Junction, Parramatta, Hurstville, Strathfield. Having high density development at train stations means you reduce dependence on private vehicles: it is easy for people to use public transport. That’s common sense and good land use planning, a desirable environmental outcome.
Not according to the Land and Environment Court which has struck down the plan – apparently on a technicality – in line with the wishes of a local residents’ group that imagines blocking apartments near a railway station will protect the character of their community. In the long term, the way to protect the low density character of these leafy streets is to see that new apartments are provided around a transport node. The alternative is to see medium density development in the form of townhouses, villa houses and dual occupancies seep into all neighbourhood streets.
This decision means 10,000 more future dwellings will have to be found on Sydney’s urban fringe, a result the superficial Sydney Morning Herald report today does not even hint at. The paper only reports the court decision as a win for local residents ; the implications for the rest of this city of four million do not get mentioned.
Governments will be hard pressed to fund public transport into these new releases. But it already exists on Sydney’s North Shore Line. Where there is room for consolidation around railway stations. That chance is now gone.
Specifically Sydney is foregoing 10,000 new apartments as a result of this decision – the upward pressure in the longer term on housing prices will be real. You’ll be able to measure it. Especially as the O’Farrell government has removed pressure on local government to deliver more medium density zonings. But if you run high immigration – and Barry O’Farrell supports it – your cities either go up or out. If you say they can’t go up – even along a major existing public transport artery – they sure as hell will go out.
More urban sprawl.