Edward Mandla
Southern Industrial Area

Published On: 30/03/2015

We get lots of briefings in the City of Sydney and I’ve developed a reasonable bamboozle detector based on the language used in the briefings. And so it was last year when a low-key briefing occurred on the Southern Industrial Area. What I heard was: nothing here to be worried about, it’s based on reports from experts and it’s merely going out on exhibition – which means we’ve already made our mind up and we’ll note concerns but won’t do anything about them.

I was the sole Councillor to vote against this motion last June. As is the case, when you vote “No”, the community starts talking to you, I buried myself in the 1,000 plus pages of the expert reports and saw the City is completely misaligned to the state government’s plan for growing Sydney.

So here we are. Southern Industrial Area. State Significant. 5km from the City. 265 Hectares of worn out land, which is nine times larger than Barangaroo and four times larger than Macquarie Park.

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a major decision to help shape our future city.

What’s at stake, is Sydney’s competitiveness and underlying productivity.

The opportunity is to grow high skilled jobs in Sydney’s economic corridor and to house those workers in the same environment. That’s accommodation for 100,000 modern workers with 75,000 associated workspaces.

Where’re we at?

“The City of Sydney, famous for $9m dollar Milk Crate Public Art, spending $9m on no-win court cases and $10m on consultant reports for energy power-plant schemes, once again stands on the precipice of dreadful decision making – this time by ignoring expert reports.

Why? The City is clinging to a romantic out dated vision of industrial, catering to Transport, Manufacturing and Wholesale when the most common place of work for people in the City of Sydney is their local area and their most common occupation is professional, creative, technology and financial services!

The City wants a Business Park and one four times bigger than Macquarie Park. Can you imagine the Lord Mayor spruiking office space in competition to Macquarie Park? Even if she were good at it, it would take 100 years to fill the place based on annual take up of such space! (4 Million square metres and the take up in Sydney is 50,000 to 60,000 square metres per annum).

And the city has justified this by adding a crazed affordable housing scheme where we’ll allow some residential but only if you hand over 50% to the government. Who’s going to sign up to that?

Here’s the reality:

People want to live and work in close proximity to each other and they want transport options. By having a mixed used of residential and commercial in this area we can save 28 Million vehicle Kilometres per annum.

Three esteemed consulting organisations (SGS Economics and Planning, Hill PDA and Deloitte Access Economics) have said to do this.

In a City drowning in money, there’s little need for financial sense. You’d be hard pushed to find a calculator in the joint but this is what they’re missing out on:

$690M in developer contributions $79M of annual stamp duty and land taxes $39M of annual rates

The major reason given not to do this, is that the city doesn’t want to make landholders even richer by giving them a windfall! Karl Marx would be proud. Hey wasn’t Lenin mentioned earlier in the evening?

I can’t believe our planning department developed this recommendation. They were clearly told to what to do.

My plan for the Southern Industrial Area is to provide forward thinking and planning, which would fully fund integrated, separated cycleways, light rail from Central to Mascot, and an additional Airport Link train station between Green Square and Mascot called ‘Doody Street’, three hectares of new parks, Aged Care facilities, ‘Parisian Style’ integrated housing and workplaces, and $300 million of revenue to be spent on buying Affordable Housing for the LGA,”.

The City of Sydney’s ingrained small mindedness is the biggest roadblock in Sydney’s development as a global city.

Excluding market driven residential and limiting it to industrial and commercial archaeology, will push this underutilised wasteland into further decay.

It's beyond belief that a Council which struggles with housing the homeless, processing development applications on time, collecting rubbish, dealing with rat infestations and meeting basic ratepayer expectations, could be allowed to put the growth of NSW at risk.

That’s why I will be urging the Premier to help the people and State of NSW by taking control of the Southern Industrial Area and put the control in the hands of professionals that can provide much need housing for NSW.

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