In NSW property narco state, developers rule

Last year, NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes, used COVID as an excuse to turbo-charge development:

NSW planning processes and development applications will be fast-tracked in a bid to support the construction sector and maintain jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assessments of state significant developments, rezoning and development applications will be accelerated under the changes announced by Planning Minister Rob Stokes… More decisions will be made by the minister if required…

“We have incredible opportunity to help keep our state’s economy moving and keeping people in jobs and also keeping businesses operating,” he told a Commission for Sydney event…

Mr Stokes said the so-called planning system acceleration program would create opportunities for more than 30,000 construction jobs in the next six months.

Shortly afterwards, 10 News revealed that the deputy executive director of the Property Council of NSW, William Power, was appointed by the NSW State Government to become the executive director of the planning department’s COVID-19 response.

As expected, that response involved fast tracking the decision making around major projects, some of which were proposed by members of the Property Council.

Then the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) appointed the NSW Property Council head as its CEO.

The results are as predictable, with the planning department rubber stamping gargantuan high-rise apartment buildings without ensuring adequate infrastructure is in place:

Western Sydney residents are furious plans to increase the height of a major residential development have been given the green light, despite concerns about overdevelopment and congestion.

The concept plan for two 15-storey apartment buildings at Wentworth Point means they will be almost double in height compared to neighbouring buildings, which reach a limit of nine storeys…

The NSW Department of Planning accepted the plans days before Christmas last year…

Community advocate and resident Clement Lun said the huge development would lead to more congestion on the streets.

“There’s a particular intersection here called Hill and Bennelong where sometimes in peak hour it’s actually a 20-minute wait to turn right into Wentworth Point,” he said

“At the moment there’s about 13,000 residents living in this area.

“They’re projecting about 25,000 and there’s been no provisions for additional road or additional transport.”

The community had been looking forward to a light rail stop at the peninsula but the State Government has indicated it’s unlikely to go ahead.

“A lot of people here actually have to use cars here [due to the lack of public transport] and as you can see, it’s very hard to find parking here”…

As a parent, Mr Lun is also concerned the influx of residents will place pressure on the only primary school in the area.

“The primary school was only built at 400 capacity,” he said.

“The school opened two years ago and it’s already got demountables. There’s already five demountables on the grounds and they’re projecting more.

“There’s also no high school in the area. The closest one is in Concord which is about an hour-and-a-half on a school bus”…

Piety Group’s spokesperson said there would be no additional car spaces, but that the approved proposal had taken traffic management into consideration…

Almost 1,500 public submissions objected to the proposal, including Parramatta Council.

But the planning department deemed the height increase to be “consistent with the evolving character of Wentworth Point” and it was satisfied it wouldn’t result in “any unreasonable traffic impacts”…

Parramatta councillor Patricia Prociv said the approval made a “mockery of public consultation”.

“It’s a farce. What’s the point of asking people to respond if you’re then not going to take their responses into consideration?”

This is par for the course in Sydney, where high-rise monstrosities are approved without adequate public transport or road infrastructure, without adequate schools or hospitals, and without extra provision for car parks.

In a rare display of honesty, Planning Minister Rob Stokes recently admitted that the proliferation of high-rise is wrecking Sydney’s livability:

Mr Stokes warned that a modest benefit to homebuyers [in price reduction from more high-rise] would become a “massive potential cost to everyone else” in NSW due to increased traffic congestion from higher urban density, heritage impacts and the need to retrofit utilities, hospitals and schools to cope.

“There just seems to be this constant pressure from economists that the planning system is to blame for all of society’s ills,” he said…

“It completely fails to consider the congestion costs, the amenity costs, the heritage costs, the overshadowing costs, the wind tunnelling costs. Of course we need more housing but it’s not right to say it should all be two-bedroom houses in high-rise apartment buildings.”

And yet, Stokes’ department continues to rubber stamp high-rise projects en masse.

What this shows is that the property lobby has the NSW Government wrapped around its little finger.

Valid community concerns are ignored entirely as the property lobby privatises the gains from growth, while ordinary residents socialise the costs.

This is yet another example of why Australia is the property equivalent of a narco state.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. chuckmuscleMEMBER

    Reading articles like this make me bless the China Flu. Without that and the work from home shift, moving to SEQ would never have been on the cards and I would have remained stuck in Sydney cursing the congestion and extortionate living costs.

  2. No one wants to live in Sydney tbh; people are only there because of work. The nice parts of it (in the middle and on the outskirts) are slowly being eaten up by bad development, and infrastructure that no one wants or will ruin it. Whether it is the beaches or the quaint country farms on its outskirts the city on country’s doorstep is disappearing.

    The sad thing is that it is happened quite quickly too; in the last 10-15 years it accelerated rapidly. Very correlated to the Libs being in power there. It appeases the tradie vote though so it will probably continue.

    • MathenomicMEMBER

      I’ll take Sydney over Melbourne, Darwin, Adelaide, and Brisbane (I’ve lived in all of them) any day of the week for many more reasons than work (predominantly culture and populace), but I’m a child free mid 30s professional. You are right though; basically you live east of the inner west (maybe inclusive dependent on your objectives) in a number of areas or in some spots north of the bridge. A lot of people still love the shire too and the north coast; to each their own.

      • Things change once you have a family. And those areas (other than renting – where many would prefer to live in the burbs than do that) are pretty expensive. With Sydney’s population not many people can live in those areas – the outer suburbs had their country charms at one point but the Government seems to want to push everything no one wants out there. If you did fit everyone in that desirable area you mention it would too deteriorate. The area of Sydney that is acceptable to live in is shrinking every day to that pocket you mention – and as soon as you have a family even that pocket is questionable. I personally don’t like it but to each their own. Too much traffic congestion, smog, pollution, etc.