The negative reaction by Hurstville Councillors to what appear to me to be quite reasonable opportunities to house more families near town centres and railway stations raises alarm bells about Sydney’s planning.
The LEP gazetted by the state government provides for a hierarchy of growth and height that includes a number of town centres with modest heights.
Sydney’s population is growing through immigration, natural birth rates and the fact that people are living longer. Over the next 20 years around 600,000 new houses or apartments will be needed and many of these will need to occur in the inner ring of suburbs around Sydney.
About a decade ago I undertook some planning for Hurstville City Centre when I was the NSW Government Architect and my aim was to develop a mixed use urban centre with commercial and residential buildings.
We also planned more density along the railway line particularly around stations. It seems that council now wants to focus all development in the city centre and are hoping the other centres will survive.
What Hurstville and Sydney needs is a hierarchy of development with major centres like Hurstville having 20 storey buildings with centres like Riverwood and Penshurst having buildings of 8 storeys. I know Riverwood pretty well and it can easily have the area around the station at a height of 28m. The gazetted LEP has less than this so it seems strange that council is demanding even lower heights than the LEP.
Councillors need to take a lead role on behalf of the future communities so that our grand children have somewhere to live. It is too easy to exaggerate words like ‘high rise’ and ‘win for developers’ and raise concerns about change across the existing communities. Sydney and Hurstville needs a hierarchy of heights and densities related to transport nodes and town centres to house future communities.
CEO Urban Taskforce
Former NSW Government Architect
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