Thursday 30 April 2020 (Sydney, Australia) — The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW has been urging the government to consider Camellia metro station as the first choice for an eastern Parramatta CBD Metro West station.
“Rydalmere never made sense as a metro station, but a Camellia station presents the opportunity of a generation for Sydney’s vision to be a globally competitive, polycentric city,” said UDIA NSW chief executive Steve Mann.
“This project will have a 100-year plus footprint. This is not the time for short-term thinking about the city of today and ignoring the future city potential Camellia Town Centre generates as an integrated part of the Parramatta CBD, said Mr Mann.
“As Parramatta transforms into Greater Sydney’s true second CBD, we must reconceptualise the suburbs immediately adjacent as thriving mixed-use inner-city suburbs.
“A new strategic centre at Camelia can be connected by metro rail, light rail and ferry creating the necessary connectivity to be a vibrant mixed-use jobs and entertainment hub for the Central River City,” said Mr Mann.
The Central River city needs to be comprised of three metro stations – Westmead, Parramatta, Camellia – to elevate the city’s CBD status and future capacity. By comparison, the Eastern CBD has eight stations in a similar footprint.
The Greater Sydney Commission’s (GSC) ‘retain and manage’ prescription for the precinct restricted the vision for this site. This misplaced designation ignored the decades long decline in employment across the former heavy industrial precinct and Camellia’s strategic location within the Greater Parramatta to Olympic Park Peninsula (GPOP).
Research undertaken Value Advisory Partners for UDIA has modelled the impact of leaving Camellia in its current state, with the gap between the base case and a revitalised precinct creating up to 40,000 jobs between now and 2050. With the metro line due for completion in 2030, this would have been the driver for the majority of urban renewal.
“As we look to recover from this COVID-19 economic crisis, it is crucial that the major transport projects that we commence are the city shaping projects like Metro West, that bring with them the development opportunities and jobs which we need to rebuild our economy and grow the liveability of our cities,” said Mr Mann.
With tunnelling due to commence in 2022 – it is not too late for Government to reconsider a station to the eastern end of the Parramatta CBD.
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Media Contact: Mia Kwok 0435 361 697 firstname.lastname@example.org
28 April 2020 (Sydney, Australia) — UDIA NSW welcomes today’s announcement from NSW Government to create opportunities for more than 30,000 construction jobs by September 2020. At UDIA NSW’s event today, Minister for Planning Rob Stokes announced that new projects will be prioritised as part of the Planning System Acceleration Program.
“Restocking the housing pipeline is critical to ensure that we continue to have shovel-ready projects to keep delivering through the crisis,” said Steve Mann, chief executive, Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW.
The Government has announced criteria to assess the projects on the basis of:
“UDIA NSW has welcomed the release of the criteria, which will help provide transparency to industry and alleviate any concerns in the community that the assessment process will be compromised by this acceleration.”
“It is clear the NSW Government is taking steps to improve efficiency and make the right decision faster.
However, Mr Mann warned “with a sustained backlog of development approvals the focus must be on getting a diverse range of projects approved quickly rather than creating more red tape for the system.”
“We are confident this new prioritisation process will accelerate development approvals in line with community expectations, while delivering a much-needed pipeline of housing supply and infrastructure.”
This follows the Government’s announcement of a further low-cost $250 million in TCorp Loans to kick-start community infrastructure projects, which UDIA NSW hopes will help unlock the $2.6 billion in section 7.11 contributions in Council Bank Accounts.
Media contact: Mia Kwok 0435 361 697 email@example.com
UDIA National has now lodged an extensive submission in response to the Commonwealth Government’s Independent Review of the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
The review – chaired by Professor Graeme Samuel – represents a landmark opportunity to overhaul the EPBC Act’s legislative, regulatory and administrative framework.
As well as meeting Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Professor Samuels, UDIA National has engaged extensively with members over the past six months to prepare our submission.
Fixing the Act represents one of the major advocacy priorities of UDIA National, and our submission highlights priorities for the review including:
Ensuring proposed listings of new Matters of National Environmental Significance (MoNES) are underpinned by clear science and evidence – and accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Statement canvassing potential economic costs or consequences.
Embedding greater interagency and inter-governmental collaboration and decision-making in the function of the EPBC to better ensure balanced outcomes.
Progressing towards the one-stop shop premise that underpins the EPBC Act and absorbs lessons from existing processes which work well.
Completing bilateral agreements and strategic assessments (as well as updating existing bilateral agreements) within a fixed timeline to strip out duplication and eliminate opportunities for different tiers of government to revisit earlier assessment outcomes.
Developing and applying statutory timeframes for responding to applicants and introduce the concept of ‘deemed consent’ when they are not met.
Provide a simpler and more effective regime for offsets – replacing the current inefficiencies and inconsistencies that neither deliver good environmental outcomes or certainty for proponents.
Lifting the quality, consistency and transparency of guidance, particularly throughout the referral process.
We have also made clear there are interim steps the Government should take to secure more timely decision-making, particularly in light of the economic effects of COVID-19.
UDIA National has recommended giving priority focus to any projects which were initially referred over eighteen months ago, including:
All projects that entered the assessment regime prior to July 1, 2019, be guaranteed a decision by July 1, 2020
All projects that entered the assessment regime prior to January 1, 2020, be guaranteed a decision by October 1, 2020; and
All projects that entered the assessment regime post January 1, 2020, be guaranteed a decision by January 1, 2021.
Monday 27 April 2020 (Sydney, Australia) — Without urgent interventions Sydney is headed for the lowest levels of dwelling completions since 1953. This will be a catastrophe for young home buyers, affordability and jobs.
The UDIA NSW Greater Sydney Development Forecast (based on data from NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, ABS, Charter Keck Cramer and Research4) shows the projected dwelling completions for Greater Sydney will fall to 9,256 by 2022 in a worst case scenario. This is almost a 77% plunge since the peak in 2018.
“The research shows we are on track for the lowest dwelling completions since 1953,” said UDIA NSW chief executive Mr Steve Mann. There were 9,047 dwelling completions in 1953.
“With dwellings approvals declining 46% since the peak in 2016 the upcoming number of new homes being built in Sydney will be very low. A decline in supply, construction jobs and affordability will naturally follow suit, and we will end up critically damaging Sydney’s housing market in the short to medium term,” said Mr Mann.
This will have a devastating impact on Sydney and the regions from the Illawarra to the Hunter where growth occurs, but also across the State with the development supply chain supporting many regional communities.
“The focus must be targeted interventions that will enable new housing to be delivered now and a pipeline for growth into the future,” said Mr Mann.
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Media Contact: Mia Kwok 0435 361 697 firstname.lastname@example.org
At almost two metres tall, Marcus Skeggs stands out.
But when he wore a sequined black tuxedo to a national award ceremony in October 2019 – flanked by management and colleagues from property technology company DisplaySweet – he made quite the impression.
“It was a bold choice,” Marcus admits.
“I had a fabulous time. When we went up on stage to collect our award with everyone including our investors I felt super comfortable and loved every minute of it.”
Handshakes and compliments followed, confirming Marcus’ bold wardrobe choice while validating his determination to always be himself. It’s become a permanent mindset and something he’s chosen to advocate for on behalf of others after having found his groove within the property industry for only a handful of years. A supportive environment has underpinned Marcus’ professional success, particularly since DisplaySweet managers suggested and encouraged him to apply for the UDIA’s inaugural Legends and Legacy program in 2019.
Established by the UDIA NSW Councillor and CEO of Diversified Property Group, Vanessa Pearson, the Legends & Legacy program helps foster the industry’s next generation of young leaders, providing invaluable networking and mentoring opportunities for Marcus and 13 other talented and future property leaders.
“Part of the appeal was the opportunity to form new networks and friendship groups, with passionate and like-minded people,” Marcus said.
“You don’t normally have access to this caliber of experience, it was a good opportunity to be more involved in the industry.”
The group was also given unprecedented access to some of Australia’s most successful and prolific property executives including Iwan Sunito, Chief Executive Officer of Australian development company Crown Group and Western Sydney’s dairy farmer and land developer Tony Perich. A natural storyteller and creative personality, Marcus relished the opportunities and instant support from his newly established circle of contacts. After working in advertising and design with EdwardJames (now the James Agency) on property campaigns and marketing for almost three years, Marcus joined Melbourne-based proptech company DisplaySweet as an account sales manager in April 2018. He relishes the role of winning new business and travelling across the eastern seaboard to see client projects launch to the market using the DisplaySweet technology.
“A lot of people hate cold calling, not me, I love the opportunity to speak to someone new,” he says.
“The key is to treat everyone with the same level of respect. It doesn’t matter if I get through to a Secretary, a Marketing Manager or a CEO, everyone has something to contribute. Treating everyone equally should be society’s default but unfortunately it’s not always the case.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Marcus after an incident at work during a training day with clients became a watershed career moment, strengthening his resolve to promote inclusion within the industry. While demonstrating the DisplaySweet app on an iPad to a team of agents, a Sales Director began to make comments about not being ‘creative’ enough to understand the technology. Marcus took his time to explain the software and process in greater detail but the comments became personal.
“Out of nowhere this agent said in front of his colleagues ‘a marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman’ and a few minutes later ‘children deserve a mother and father’,” he said.
“It was not long after the Marriage Equality Vote had been passed and it was the first time I’d ever encountered anything like that. I felt like I had been sucker punched.”
An uncharacteristically quiet Marcus returned to work unsure of how to handle the situation, admitting the incident affected him more than he would have liked.
“I decided to let John [DisplaySweet co-CEO John Paige] know what had happened and he was super supportive, he said it was totally unacceptable and called the client,” Marcus said.
“That’s amazing and rare for a CEO to be so forward thinking and care so much about his employees. He said I could let it define me or I could do something about it so it didn’t happen to others.”
As an active member of the Queers in Property (QIP) group, Marcus is an advocate for the LGBITQ+ industry and will take a seat on the UDIA NSW Diversity & Inclusion committee in 2020. The 22-member committee’s mandate is to advocate for change and greater equality within the development industry, a directive Marcus fully endorses and a vehicle with which he hopes will help provide a voice for those groups who don’t have one.
“The drawcard for me was the diversity part, as the industry is lacking in diversification from the LGBITQ community’s point of view,” he said.
“But there’s also a lack of marketing and sales roles represented in these committees. There’s a lot of advocacy on behalf of developers, which is great, but without marketing or sales teams these projects wouldn’t go far.”
It’s also an opportunity to set an example that it’s okay to be yourself in the workplace and a platform with which Marcus hopes will also bring about an era of cultural change.
“This is my opportunity to start flagging issues that can’t, and shouldn’t be ignored, because someone who may not be as strong as me might have a similar experience that not only ruins their day but their career too,” Marcus said.
“I’ve always felt comfortable being myself and that experience made me feel terrible, not about the work I was doing, but me as a person and that’s not okay.”
UDIA Legends & Legacy Program www.udialegendsandlegacy.com.au
by Stephen McMahon, UDIA NSW Vice President Greenfield, General Manager of Macarthur Developments and Director of Inspire Planning. Stephen has been responsible for the planting over 5,000 trees in South West Sydney in the last five years.
People hate trees! There I have said it. You could accuse me of heresy by contradicting such commonly accepted orthodoxy. Why do I dare suggest such a perverse view?
One day over the Christmas break my neighbour lent over our shared fence and expressed concern about the bushfires. This is totally understandable. It was a grim time for all. I shared his concern.
He ventured on: Had I considered removing the sole tree in my postage stamp back garden in my inner west terrace? It was a significant bushfire hazard you know!
I advised him that, alas from his perspective, the tree would be staying. I felt confident that my lonely tree, being some 86 kilometres from the nearest bushfire was not a hazard to his home.
The coincidental thing is, I had only recently finished reviewing the draft Wilton DCP. Chapter 4.2.6 requires the planting of trees within a subdivision. One tree of at least five metres in height is required to be planted in the front setback of a dwelling while one tree of at least 8 metres in height is required to be planted in the rear garden setback area. Given these lots could have a width of circa 8 – 10 metres and the setback dimensions could be in the order of 4 metres achieving this control is going to be very challenging. Furthermore, I had in my hand recent advice from our Svengali-like NSW Rural Fire Service for a current subdivision I am seeking approval for. The advice (read “command”) prohibits the planting of any trees that result in a canopy within two metres of any dwelling. Confused?
So, I will qualify this opening statement. People hate trees … on or neighbouring their own property. They love trees … on someone else’s property, distant from perceived potential impacts. Yes, it is a genuine example of “not in my my backyard” (NIMBY) syndrome.
So how do we establish trees in an urban environment?
Firstly, we don’t follow the proposed approach in the draft Wilton Development Control Plan.
There is no doubt that trees benefit urban environments. They improve streetscape appearance, provide shade, reduce heat island effects and offer psychological benefits. However, it is appropriate as this point to qualify this declaration with the debunking of some myths. Trees in urban areas have insufficient density to offer any noise attenuation benefits and analysis has shown that trees can actually exacerbate local air quality issues on major roads by obstructing air flow (ventilation) and thereby concentrating airborne pollutants.
The promotion of ‘greening’ goals and tree canopies cannot rely on strategies and town planning controls that are dependent upon the actions and support of homeowners and landowners (i.e. private property interests). Even if, by some miracle, a lucky tree survives the construction phase its days are probably numbered in the post-occupancy era as gardens become embellished with swimming pools, pergolas and the like. Government could enforce maintenance of trees on private property of course, but does Government want to be in the business of being the “tree police” on every housing lot in Western Sydney? [Image 1]
The public domain has to carry much of the burden of this goal. This however is neither altruistic nor unrealistic. Studies by the NSW Urban Design Advisory Service (remember them?) in the early 2000s, while investigating the efficiency of urban densities, found that when all public owned land is considered (that is basins, riparian corridors, parks, recreation, school sites and road reserves) it can make up to 40% of gross land area in an urban environment.
The promotion of tree canopy goals in the public domain has huge emotional value and support. However for Local Government (upon whom the burden for managing trees within the public domain would ultimately fall), it comes with a financial and operational cost.
Understandably Councils would object to this. However, the world is changing and our expectations on the role of the public domain are changing as we grow to appreciate the opportunities it offers and its value. Local Government can no longer operate following a “business as usual” philosophy. To get the discussion started here are a few suggestions:
Abandon Agency Silos. Parks and environmental spaces could be multi-functional. For example, there is an opportunity (if open minds prevail) to combine open space, drainage and riparian functions. If this approach was co-ordinated cleverly with master planning and S.7.11 contributions its implementation creates new opportunities for dense tree planting that can extend into and establish a web of green across urban environments. On face value it may appear to cost more to manage. However the efficiencies it introduces by combining activities and reducing the land requirement burden on S.711 plans (remembering that land cost now makes up 30-50% of S.7.11 contributions) could be significant;
Make better use of road reserves. Road reserves, and in particular road medians, offer a location to accommodate unencumbered street tree planting and stormwater infrastructure (e.g. rain gardens). This does not have to be wholesale across every street, but selected key streets such as Collector Roads and above;
Abandon the use of automatic side loading rubbish trucks. The pick-up arm is the enemy of a street tree. This is not as unrealistic as it sounds. In fact, it is inevitable. As lot sizes get smaller and urban densities increase this method of rubbish collection will become increasingly inefficient and antiquated. Inner city councils like Sydney already know this;
Adopt development controls that seek a greater density of planting during construction in the public domain, rather than on land destined to be privately owned. As developers we also recognise the value of trees. They uplift land values and increase marketability. However, we abhor flagrant waste;
Councils need to learn to love trees. Trees are not characteristics of the public domain that cost money to maintain and create public liability issues. They are valued assets, important to quality of life and amenity. Councils in their various roles protect and manage the public interest. A lush green tree canopy located in the public domain is in the public interest; and
Identify a suite of trees suitable for urban environments. Native trees are not good public or private domain trees. They are high maintenance, can be dangerous, often offer minimal tree canopy and can be unattractive (weakening public support and affection for their establishment and retention). Conversely exotics can be ‘too exotic’ and deciduous trees are high maintenance. There is an opportunity to run a horticultural competition to identify and promote a suite of tree species that are suitable for Sydney conditions and Council demands. An iconic signature tree for Western Sydney streets and public domain could be identified and promoted (similar to Brisbane City Council’s Jacaranda Street Tree Strategy, where ironically the tree is also a declared weed).
Obviously, the question arises of “who pays” for these outcomes in the public domain. It would be an interesting exercise to quantify the uplift in land values around such assets. This increased value could be captured in rates if the valuation system was more nuanced than it currently is today. Furthermore, residents are often more willing to pay higher rates in return for the increased amenity. Differential rating systems can facilitate this. At the end of the day, however, environmental improvements / conservation (for want of a better phrase) come at a cost. If we, as a community, support this, we must accept that Councils have a role and we must be prepared to assist in its realisation by paying for it in our rates.
The role for privately owned land
Notwithstanding the commentary above there is a role for privately owned land. Higher density residential and commercial development where efficiently managed by landlord, strata or community corporations provides perhaps the best opportunity.
In New South Wales we have only scratched the surface. There are celebrated examples overseas, most notably in Singapore. Singapore prides itself (and heavily promotes itself) on its garden city status. It heavily invests in its existing and new gardens, the new 100 ha Gardens by the Bay at Marina Bay being the most notable. It has also adopted planning controls and incentives to replace greenery lost on the ground from development with greenery in the upper levels of buildings through the creation of above ground terraces and gardens.
In the City’s ‘Downtown Core’ (including the Marina Bay Precinct) all development is required to comply with a 100 percent greenery replacement policy. The physical area of land used to accommodate the building footprint is required to be re-created within the building envelope to be used for green space. Elsewhere in the City, the National Parks Board has introduced the Skyrise Greenery Incentive Scheme (SGIS) where it will fund up to 50% of installation costs of rooftop and vertical (wall) greenery. Since its introduction in 2009, the SGIS has assisted in greening more than 110 existing buildings by retrofitting them with extensive green roofs, edible gardens, recreational rooftop gardens, and lush verdant green walls (www.nparks.gov.sg/skyrisegreenery/ incentive-scheme). [Image 2]
The marked change to building presentation and the character of Singapore that has resulted is evident to even the casual observer as tourist photos can testify. [Image 3]
Inevitably the issue of construction quality and cost arises. This is particularly topical in Sydney at this time. Water penetration is a significant issue in development and clearly our procedures today have not quite been able to deliver the certainty and robustness that we require. More research is required including testing of new water proofing materials and construction methodologies. The additional structural requirements (and cost) is also challenging. However, as Singapore demonstrates, the added value justifies the investment.
At a local level there are also opportunities to increase tree planting on private property. However, by and large, these need to be achieved by incentives rather than enforcement. For example:
The identification and adoption of an attractive, distinctive, functional and appropriate tree species (as discussed above) that can engender local resident pride and interest in their planting can assist enormously. This has emerged in Brisbane with Jacaranda trees very popular in private gardens. Closer to home, in New South Wales’ cooler climate towns like Orange, Bowral and Armidale the planting of deciduous trees that offer vibrant Autumn colours is also popular; and
Can we use BASIX certification to incentivise tree planting? For example, tree planting can reduce energy demand by reducing the need for air conditioning.
In conclusion it is inevitable that our urban environments will have to accommodate more trees. Examples outside Sydney show that this can be achieved with a focus less on crude enforcement and more on inducement and innovation. Institutionally, and culturally, we are some way from accepting this necessity. It will require concerted attention, some research and a move away from ‘business as usual.’ Are we ready for this?