GCC Chief of Police Geoff Roberts promises “there will be no punishment”. But he is also clear that everyone will have to do their part.
“We are an organization that uses evidence and exploits opportunities to provide more housing supply, more housing diversity and more affordability of housing,” he tells the Herald.
“Over the past five years, Sydney has completed 180,000 new homes. It peaked in fiscal year 2018-2019 and it is worrying that the number of completed homes has declined since then.”
That’s a trend that both the state and federal governments are eager to reverse. But getting those houses built in places people want to live is another matter – especially on the eve of an election where western Sydney is a major battleground and the east has been targeted by independents who have put ‘overdevelopment’ at the heart of their platforms. .
It is a tricky issue for the Labor opposition, which needs to win at least eight seats in the March elections to gain a majority to win the government. Labor’s housing spokeswoman Rose Jackson took to Twitter to respond to Sloane’s comments (“I love it when the Libs say the quiet bit out loud so we get to see what they really think,” she wrote), but isn’t ready yet. say what a Labor government would do to increase the housing supply.
Meanwhile, Marjorie O’Neill, the Labor MP for Coogee, sang alongside Vaucluse from a similar song sheet to Sloane, telling the Heraldthat the concerns about overcrowded classrooms and emergency care and inadequate public transportation were genuine and legitimate.
“If we’re going to build more housing, it has to be built in a thoughtful way,” O’Neill said. “I don’t want to get into some kind of geographic war, because this is actually happening all over NSW. Communities are burdened with overdevelopment, but the social infrastructure is not there to support it.”
Roberts agrees that attitudes to development in Sydney aren’t all that different. “This kind of east versus west stuff — we don’t really see that on the ground,” he says. “There are some famous communities and areas in Sydney where the lack of change is more entrenched. But we don’t like most of our conversations so much.”
As an example he mentions the redevelopment of the corridor between Surry Hills and the airport (Green Square, Waterloo, Zetland) and Bondi Junction as places in the east where urban renewal and high density has worked.
But David Borger, the head of lobbying group Business Western Sydney, has a less charitable view. “The fact is that the eastern suburbs are not getting their money’s worth,” he says. “The heavy lifting is being done by the middle ring of councils in western Sydney [such as] Parramatta, Blacktown, the hills.”
Borger is less critical of local politicians and residents than of governments and bureaucrats who determine policy. He is especially fond of a recent bipartisan change to New Zealand’s planning laws that caused a massive upgrade of all the major Kiwi cities.
“If the major parties really want to make a difference, they should follow their New Zealand counterparts and make a historic pact on behalf of their citizens rather than give in to NIMBYs,” Borger says.
“The GCC should be the group empowered to take zoning plans on behalf of the people. And if you look at the unequal housing numbers in the city, you see, despite goodwill and ambition, they have not been able to achieve that.”
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