Shortly before Christmas, Tatafu Polota-Nau and myself were invited to talk to WSROC (the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils which represents the 10 local councils in Western Sydney) about a sustainable vision for their regional group of local council areas more commonly called Greater Western Sydney (GWS).
This came about because as I have mentioned in an earlier blog, during 2010, I became part of a sustainability consultancy group (Sustainable Forward Consultancy Group) with Waratah and Wallaby hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and a chemical engineer and ex-investment banker turned strategic sustainability consultant Chris Andrew.
As an architect, my part of the sustainable vision for GWS (developed with the assistance of the superb planners at Cox Richardson Architects) focused on the urban planning of the region. Tatafu focused on the physical health of local communities in GWS through diet and fitness.
Below is a summary of what I spoke about.
Regional Issues, Sustainable Strategy and a 6 Point Plan for GWS
Regional Issues affecting GWS sustainability
Sydney’s public transport system is based around a radial network centred in the Sydney CBD – 70% of GWS residents work in GWS but are forced to use a public transport system focused on Sydney CBD.
Economic forecasts see there being a shortage of about 200,000 jobs in the region by 2036.
Sydney wide forecast shortages in affordable housing but in GWS the shortages will be particularly severe in affordable housing that also has easy access to public transport, services and recreation.
With these issues as the context, my vision of sustainability in the region is based around the 3 pillars of sustainability or a triple bottom line – environmental, economic and social sustainability.
It is my opinion that the single greatest effort WSROC can make to environmental sustainability in the region is to greatly reduce the amount of time that people use their private motor vehicles by changing usage to public transport and by rethinking GWS as a place (essentially keep people, food and travel all local).
The single greatest impact WSROC can have on economic sustainability in the region is the creation of jobs. And, the greatest impact WSROC can make to the social sustainability of GWS is for its residents to be able to afford a place to live with easy access to services and recreation.
A sustainable vision for GWS based on the triple bottom line will have to focus on public transport, employment and housing for the region.
6 Point Strategy to Achieve the Sustainable Vision
1. Create a strong positive identity for GWS with Parramatta as its cultural, social and commercial hub. (Requires large scale museums, art galleries, music, exhibition and convention centres worthy of the third biggest city catchment area in Australia behind Sydney and Melbourne – it should be similar to Brisbane’s Southbank)
2. Go ahead with the planned North-West and South-West rail links and growth centres as a good start.
3. Create a public transport link between the two new major growth areas through the western Sydney Employment Lands. Create further transport corridors radiating from Parramatta to the major regional employment nodes.
4. Create 200,000 extra jobs in the region.
Some employment options being:
1. A second airport – this will create 50,000 -100,000 direct jobs depending on its size and potentially even more if linked to super fast rail network. From a planning point of view this new airport would be ideally placed at Badgerys Creek as an employment and transport infrastructure driver for both NW and SW growth areas – if not here where else? Richmond is an option?