Randwick council rejected a plan to increasing housing next to the University of New South Wales and Prince of Wales Hospital on November 8 by a 10-5 vote. The plan, which is contingent on improved transport infrastructure (i.e. light rail), would have seen an additional 1,500 dwellings built mostly along High Street over the next 20 years by increasing height limits from the existing 3-4 storeys to 4-8 storeys.
Councillors appear to have been pressured by 7,500 signatures opposing over-development. The Southern Courier quotes Keiran Bowie, who organised the petition, as saying that it is “vital to get the infrastructure right before considering further development”. However, the plan was contingent on getting transport infrastructure right anyway, which led Green Councilor and light rail advocate Murray Matson to warn that the move could put the future of light rail to Randwick in jeopardy.
I think Murray Matson is exaggerating the claim a little bit. As I’ve pointed out before, there are plenty of reasons why the Randwick light rail line will get built. But he is right to be supportive of the development proposals, and it should go ahead. The Randwick health and education precinct has 13,000 jobs and 46,000 students, many of whom travel into Randwick each day. By providing additional housing right next to this area (literally across the street), you could gets thousands of workers and students out of motorised transport and on their feet, reducing congestion, not increasing it.
Compared to most other parts of Sydney, this is an area with excellent existing transport infrastructure, plentiful in jobs and with a massive variety of pubs, cafes, restaurants and cafes. If you’re going to increase density anywhere, then this is exactly where you want to do it.
Unfortunately, it seems the NIMBYs might have won this round.