Parramatta- Strathfield light rail must drive significant new development: Urban Taskforce

Parramatta- Strathfield light rail must drive significant new development: Urban Taskforce
Parramatta- Strathfield light rail must drive significant new development: Urban Taskforce

GUEST OBSERVER

The announcement by the NSW Government of the preferred route of the light rail from Parramatta to Strathfield should lead to significant new development along the route. 

The selection of the light rail route through the urban renewal areas of Camelia and then the Olympic site at Homebush is clearly seen as a driver of new development.

This is a great opportunity to champion a new form of mixed use urban density where jobs, recreation, retail and living all work together.

The connection to Westmead is important as this is clearly a major centre of jobs and of potential urban renewal. The transport link can also connect the proposed development at North Parramatta back into the centre of Parramatta.

The connection with Sydney Olympic Park should give this precinct the direct transport connection it desperately needs and hopefully stimulate new jobs as well as residential accommodation.

The branch to Carlingford along the existing Heavy rail line is another opportunity to encourage urban renewal with mixed use development.

The Urban Taskforce is concerned about the proposed Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) of $200 per square metre of GFA of new residential developments. While providing funds for the Light Rail itself the contribution will also increase the cost of housing. A 100 square metre apartment will clearly have an extra $20,000 added to its cost. The danger of adding a high contribution amount is that development may not be economically viable and so funds will not flow to the infrastructure. Further discussions with industry are needed to ensure that the SIC is workable.

The Urban Taskforce has argued strongly for a clear link between infrastructure and density and the announcement about the light rail route opens the opportunity to deliver significant new density. One advantage of the SIC is that it is an encouragement to planning bodies to support significant amounts of development so that funds are raised. Without significant density uplift there will be little funds raised.

While the SIC does not apply to development related to jobs there needs to be strong planning incentives to support more jobs in Western Sydney and particularly related to transport infrastructure.

Chris Johnson is chief executive officer of property development industry group Urban Taskforce and can be contacted here.

Tags: 
Sydney Development

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