Sydney is growing faster than expected, with today’s Draft Metropolitan Strategy revising Sydney’s projected population in 2031 to 5.6m people. This is an increase of 1.3m people on today’s population of 4.3m, and has been caused in part by a greater volume of migration to Australia during the Global Financial Crisis. It also extends the Global Economic Corridor, previously going from Port Botany to Macquarie Park via Sydney Airport, Sydney CBD, North Sydney, St Leonards, and Chatswood, through to both Parramatta and Norwest Business Park as well as to Bondi Junction and the Randwick Education & Health Precinct.
It further sets a target of 545,000 new dwellings and 625,000 new jobs by 2031, an increase of around 30% on the current 1.7m dwellings and 2.2m jobs. These targets are themselves 17% and 33% higher respectively than those set in the previous 2011 Metropolitan Strategy. This is the equivalent of an additional 27,500 dwellings per year, almost twice the 14,500 that have actually been built per year in Sydney recently, and would lessen the upward pressure on house prices that has recently led to a deterioration in housing affordability.
The Strategy points out that there are 30,000 Ha of undeveloped land in Sydney’s Metropolitan Urban Area (representing about 15% of Sydney’s urban land), which would be enough to build over 200,000 additional dwellings, or about a third of the 545,000 dwellings required by 2031. The bulk of this already appears to have been allocated to the South West Growth Centre (110,000 dwellings) and North West Growth Centre (70,000 dwellings). The remaining land in metropolitan Sydney, known as the Metropolitan Rural Area, will be protected for biodiversity and to maintain environmental assets.
The government simultaneously announced a plan for an additional 172,000 dwellings in Sydney, to be built between 2014 and 2036. However, only 112,000 dwellings will actually be ready for development at this point, with 60,000 merely set aside for investigation. This will be achieved via a mix of land releases in greenfield sites on the urban fringe concentrated around the North West & South West Growth Centres, and from infill developments concentrated around the soon to be built North West Rail Link (NWRL) and South East Light Rail Line.
All up, the infill developments – NWRL (27,400 dwellings) and Urban Activation Precincts (30,000 dwellings), represent 51% of new dwellings, while the greenfield developments – North West & South West Growth Centres (38,450 dwellings) and landowner nominated sites (15,850 dwellings), represent 49% of new dwellings. This is down from the 70% infill target of the previous Labor Government, and in line with Barry O’Farrell’s promise to bring the ratio down from 70/30 to 50/50. However, given that only one third of the 2031 housing target can be met with greenfield developments, it remains uncertain how the government can sustain this ratio without creeping into the Metropolitan Rural Area.
The Strategy is now open to public consultation, submissions can be made until 31 May 2013.