Light rail will transform Sydney's residential development market: Peter Chittenden

Peter ChittendenJuly 22, 20130 min read

It is easy to lose track of how frequently infrastructure and development are linked together and how the lack of infrastructure has a negative impact on many aspects of the residential development market.

Now the context of this debate is about to dramatically change and I feel that to some extent it’s a change that has snuck up on us.

Over the next few years two light rail links in Sydney will transform parts of the south-east and inner-west.

Building and completing these projects will also reduce chronic CBD congestion and help revitalise Sydney and for the CBD in particular, adding further energy to the residential market.


Both projects will have a major impact on the surrounding residential environment and will boost investment and site demand. The inner west light rail extension will connect to the existing light rail service,which operates from Central to Lilyfield, through the inner west to the Dulwich Hill Interchange.

This extended service will begin operating in early 2014 with nine new stations and an investment of $176 million. Popular residential areas like Leichhardt, Dulwich Hill and Marrickville are set to benefit.

The much talked about south-east light rail to be built through the Sydney CBD to Randwick and Kingsford is also on its way.

A heads of agreement is now in place with Randwick City Council, The Centennial Parklands Trust and The University of NSW, along with the already committed City of Sydney Council, who have joined with the state government to assure the project.

The obvious support of the Sydney City Council for the project has been shown through a contribution of $220 million.

With an estimated total price tag of $1.6 billion the 12 kilometre project will link Circular Quay and Central via George Street, the Moore Park precinct (including the Sydney Cricket Ground and Allianz Stadium), Randwick Racecourse, the University of NSW and Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick.

Significantly the light rail will also reduce the number of buses now increasingly clogging the CBD during the peak with lines of buses at stand still a sore point.


The reduction in congestion combined with a brand new public transport option to key locations will greatly increase the demand for new residential development.

In recent months we have already seen parts of Kensington transform with new projects as this potential becomes a reality and the trend will continue across the entire area.

The light rail will deliver an integrated, modern and new transport solution making suburbs like Randwick, Kensington and Kingsford even more attractive places to live and this will further reinforce the demand for apartment projects in these areas.

In the Sydney CBD and surrounding areas, residential projects will have access to the light rail and this will boost the appeal of the projects around the billion-dollar redevelopment of the Sydney Entertainment and convention centre.


In the south-east, major employers like the Prince of Wales Hospital and The University of NSW will also benefit from the new light rail and this will fuel the demand for housing in the area already influenced by the student population.

When looking at the appeal of these areas in terms of new developments other key benefits of the new light rail will include the reduced journey times into the CBD and this will in-turn boost retail activity and reduce travel time for those working in the city.

Moving people efficiently into and out of special events at Moore Park is also a very positive feature that will potentially boost economic activity as the area competes to attract new events.

All eyes are now on the final timetable for construction of this very welcome infrastructure in the South East, which it is expected to take five or six years. Construction work is planned to begin in 2014.

From the many comments discussed here in Project Agenda, investing in quality infrastructure for Sydney is a vital step in cementing our reputation as a world class city.

In the past we have been marked down in some international rankings because of the lack of a reliable and modern public transport systems.

The inner-west and south-east light rail links are very welcome and they are set the change the local dynamics of housing and future residential development markets.

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.
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