Sydney over the next 20 years

  • 29 May 2012 3:42 PM
    Message # 934023

    Sydney over the next 20 years – Discussion Paper


    The NSW Government, through the Department of Planning, is developing a new Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney.

    A discussion paper, Sydney over the next 20 years, has been released for comment -see .  The discussion paper gives you insight into Department of Planning thinking and poses questions about the direction we should be taking. 

    If you look at the discussion paper you will see that it proposes an increase of 1.3million in Sydney’s population by 2031. The paper regurgitates old untruths by suggesting a new strategy can:

    • strike a balance between a growing city and protecting the natural environment”. (Discussion Paper, Page 5).  


           The concept of the triple bottom line, the idea that a balance can be struck between competing social, economic       and environmental priorities is a flawed concept. What happens in practice is that we see a series of ‘balances’ being struck over time.  On each occasion a bit more of the environment is sacrificed to meet economic or social objectives.  The eventual outcome of the ‘economic, social and environmental balance’ approach will be a complete degradation of the natural world and the loss of the renewable resources it confers upon us.

    • protect high environmental value and food producing land on Sydney’s fringe by forcing higher density housing into existing suburbs. “Most new housing still needs to be in existing urban areas to contain the spread of the city’s urban footprint”. (Discussion Paper, Page 13) 


           Infill development will not protect land on the urban fringe, from development, for very long.  History has shown that with rapid population growth demand for land can only be contained for so long before pressure for new land releases becomes overwhelming. The ‘Cumberland Plan’ of 1948 provided for a ‘green belt’ around the inner suburbs of Sydney. The Cumberland Plan was quickly abandoned & the ‘green belt’ disappeared decades ago. Recent studies indicate that around half of all the people living in apartments are doing so not because it is their preferred housing choice but because economic circumstances force them to live in apartments. They want single detached housing. (“The Desirable Apartment Life?”, H. Easthope, A. Tice & B. Randolph, City Futures Research Centre, University of NSW).  Families want dwellings with more than two bedrooms at an affordable price & the great majority of units do not measure up. (“Nuclear reaction to house prices”, Adele Horin, SMH Weekend Edition 31 December 2011 – 1 January 2012).  More infill development will eventually lead to an irresistible breakout in demand for land releases on the urban fringe.  Development pressure in Sydney has to be contained, in the short term by promoting satellite cities connected to Sydney with fast transport links and in the longer term by stabilising Sydney’s population and Australia’s population at a long-term sustainable level. 

    Sustainability and Peak Oil?

    The importance of making Sydney a sustainable city and the importance of preparing for Peak Oil do not rate a mention in the discussion paper!

    What sort of city do you want Sydney to be 20 years from now?

    There are several ways that you can take part in the discussion about Sydney’s future:

    Ø  come to one of the 15 public drop-in sessions being held at libraries across Sydney – see  for details of sessions in different suburbs

    Ø  visit our Metro Strategy online forum at     

    Ø  email your comments to

    Ø  post your submission to the Metropolitan Strategy Team, Department of Planning and Infrastructure, GPO Box 39, Sydney 2001.

    Submissions close at 5pm on Friday 29 June 2012.


    If you are looking for ideas you can consult PSN’s submission to the last Review of the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy at (see letter sent 21 May 2010),


    the PSN submission to the Review of the NSW Planning System, which was posted to the PSN Noticeboard in 2 parts on 10 Feb 2012 (Vision of a Sustainable Sydney – NSW Planning System Review)

    Participation is Important

    Our democratic system only works when people participate in large numbers. If you don’t tell the Review Team and preferably also your local State Member of Parliament what you want, then you will get what somebody else wants (most likely a property developer), not what you want!


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