UrbanGrowth NSW (UGNSW) is a state-owned corporation tasked as the state’s urban transformation authority, with a stated goal to “to drive world class urban transformation that will deliver housing and jobs growth, and improve the amenity and liveability of our urban spaces”.
As such, it has the role of establishing the parameters of the development – the mix of commercial and residential properties, height limits, green space, etc. before development applications are called for.
As inner-city communities, we are constantly bombarded by schemes to increase the density of housing; told that Sydney will have to accommodate another 1.6 million new residents by 2031; subjected to flawed revisions to state planning legislation; and given minimal opportunities for involvement in shaping the vision that flows from government and developers.
But we’re not all anti-development. As citizens, we are continually told that we have to accept growth and change. We accept that. We accept that economic growth is important – in providing housing and infrastructure; in creating employment and training opportunities; in driving retail sales of building supplies and homewares; and in enhancing and fostering communities.
Planning must involve communities. If there is a vision for an urban renewal project, it’s best that that vision is a shared one. Further, residents know their areas, they know the history and importance of the buildings and social infrastructure of the area.
Further, the development process must be seen to be open and transparent, with fair and consistent outcomes – not only for communities, but for developers, their builders and suppliers, their investors and financiers. That requires that residents be more pro-active and prepared to spend the time and effort to learn about the issues, form their opinions, and provide input to the community engagement processes when they are held, and to be prepared to fight decisions that are murky or are not in the best interests of the local community.
It also requires that UGNSW invite input from communities. Some input has been sought, primarily from community groups. UGNSW has said that it wants to extend the range of input beyond community groups and to the wider community.
Central to Eveleigh is currently being considered in five different areas. From west to east they are South Eveleigh, North Eveleigh, Australian Technology Park, Redfern and Central. The vision is to have high-value commercial office space closer to Central, with more technical and cultural businesses and activities towards Macdonaldtown and Erskineville.
In community consultations held thus far, UGNSW has sought input in six key areas: housing and employment, connections and transport, heritage and culture, sustainability, public spaces and social facilities, and Australian Technology Park.