Labor demands information as UrbanGrowth NSW cancels community consultations over density increases in Homebush


By Peter Lynch, Bernadette Chua.

Originally published:  Friday, 7 November 2014, 9:58am.

The State body in charge of the Parramatta Road development has cancelled a series of public consultation barbecues it had scheduled across the Inner West this month, including one at Homebush.

The move follows an outcry over plans to locate thousands of new residents in Homebush, first revealed in last month’s Strathfield Scene.


This weekend, labor's Planning Minister Luke Foley pledge: “I will be moving an order for papers in the Legislative Council on Tuesday, and am seeking the support of the minor parties, so that communities from Granville through to Camperdown can find out what the Government has in store for them.”

UrbanGrowth unveiled the extent of its plans at a series of private briefings to councillors and other stakeholders last month.

According to those who attended, Homebush and Olympic Park can expect to take between 11,000 and 17,000 new homes – at least 10,000 more than in the Council’s Local Environmental Plan from last year. That would mean 20,000-50,000 new residents.

But the release of the figures prompted questions about how the area’s infrastructure could cope.

Strathfield Mayor Gulian Vaccari said that hospitals are already at capacity and schools are “exploding”.

He said Strathfield’s Marie Bashir school was opened last year with 127 students, and now has 240.

Cr Daniel Bott described the plans as “appalling”, and called for detailed transport modelling, while Cr Raj Datta demanded to know what was to be done about child care, parks and hospitals. Cr Helen McLucas congratulated the Scene on its revelations, and added her voice to demands for more information.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, which followed the Scene’s story last week, more than 100,000 new dwellings will be needed over the next 10 years. UrbanGrowth are proposing 51,600 of these new dwellings in the Parramatta Road corridor, of which 33% are proposed in Homebush/North Strathfield.

Quite why UrbanGrowth arranged 11 public consultation barbecues from Ashfield to Parramatta then abruptly cancelled them is a bit of a mystery. But they may have decided to await the Metropolitan Strategy, which could answer many of the questions about infrastructure.

UrbanGrowth said in a statement: “UrbanGrowth NSW has consulted with Councils and Government departments on a Draft Strategy for the Parramatta Road corridor. The Draft Strategy will be a starting point for public discussion and will be made public after the release of the Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney.

“Releasing the Draft after the Metropolitan Strategy will allow the community to consider the renewal of the Parramatta Road corridor in the context of the city-wide plan.”

Meanwhile, developers are snapping up sites and selling new units to young couples keen to get a foot on the housing ladder.

The Scene heard of one site in Homebush that was bought for $8 million, and changed hands to a Chinese developer shortly after receiving development approval for $12.1 million. Some are concerned the result will be higher prices.

Sunitha Rajan represents the other side of the Parramatta Road density dilemma. She and her partner took one long year to find a home of their own.

After countless site visits and meetings with developers and real estate agents, Ms Rajan, 24, has bought a one-bedroom apartment for $535,000 at Charlene’s Tower, Homebush’s newest development.

“Because I work in North Sydney, ideally I was looking for an apartment in the city. But prices for a one-bedroom property are between $600,000 to $700,000. It wasn’t in my budget to spend that kind of money,” she said.

“The Inner West was the next best option and I did my research carefully about a good place to buy that had a good reputation and was close to amenities. Homebush is perfect because it is only 16km from the city.”

Ms Rajan said the plan is for her and her partner to live in the apartment for at least a year or two.

“He is planning on looking for an investment in Ryde and so he will rent that out and live in my apartment until we decide we may want to settle down.

I am just so happy we have found a place that is ours. Something that is conveniently located and something that is new that we can make our own.”