Dec 3, 2015

Urban Renewal

MR ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:42): Urbanisation has changed our way of life. Four out of every five Australians live in our cities. By 2031, our four largest capitals, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, will have increased by 46 per cent. The other capital cities, including the nation’s capital, as well as Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin are expected to grow by nearly 30 per cent.

I support urban renewal and I also support appropriately increasing density in our cities. But, as Danish architect Jan Gehl said, ‘First life, then spaces, then buildings—the other way around never works.’ Hence the concern that I have about the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor and the Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Strategy.

I am concerned that there has not been appropriate community consultation in a meaningful way on these proposals. I have met with local groups including the Save Dully Action Group, Save Marrickville, Help Save Lewisham, and the Hurlstone Park Association amongst others. They have been out in their neighbourhoods making sure that people have the information that they need and coordinating a community response.

I have also raised my concerns directly with the New South Wales planning minister, Rob Stokes. Community engagement should be at the core of any change to people’s neighbourhoods. What we have here is a considerable proposal that will change the character of many of the suburbs. We need to make sure that we get planning right, that community services and infrastructure are in place to deal with increased densities. There are examples where it can be got right and examples where it is being got wrong right in my local neighbourhood.

An example is a recent new development in Dulwich Hill on Wardell Road, right near the station. It is a box with a couple of windows on the side. It has no character. It is a considerable increase in density and an eyesore that has brought nothing to the character of our local community. In my view, it is an inappropriate development that has undermined support for increasing density.

There are other cases—even some that were controversial at the time—where it has been done properly. For example, the old Marrickville RSL site on Illawarra Road near my electorate office, right next to Marrickville station, is a considerable increase in density but it is appropriate. Right next to the station, it is appropriate that people have that rail access.

We need to make sure that we have appropriate green buildings—that we bring in renewable energy, water recycling and appropriate development that takes into account the need to also have open space and recreational facilities so that there is an improvement in the quality of life. I look to examples like the One Central building on Broadway. Again, it is a considerable increase in density but an appropriate development which has open space and therefore can bring the community with it. If there are simply lines done on a map in way that does not have appropriate community consultation and where there is, in some circumstances, overdevelopment and no accounting for community space and facilities, then the support for increased density will simply not be there.

Urban renewal does bring great opportunity. It is a chance to address issues of inequality associated with drive-in, drive-out suburbs as well as to tackle the growing problem of congestion, given that a lot of the jobs growth has been in the inner suburbs of our communities.

But we need to make sure that we get it right. We have one chance to get it right.

I call upon the New South Wales government to do much better and to have appropriate consultation that is meaningful and that can change the draft plans where they need to be changed. At the moment it is very clear that there is some inappropriate development whereby there will be an increase in traffic congestion rather than an improvement in the quality of life for people directly affected in my local community by these proposals.