By Joe Bourke
A large part of South Sydney bordered by Gardeners Road and South Redfern, including the industrial suburbs of Waterloo and Rosebury, could be substantially redeveloped in what will be called the Southern Industrial Area (SIA).
The area could house 100,000 people and 75,000 new workers under a bill brought to parliament on Tuesday by Shooters and Fishers MLC Robert Borsak. The precinct is 265-hectares and would be denser than Australia’s most densely populated area, Pyrmont, under the plan.
Mr Borsak brought the controversial ‘community vote’, which gives businesses two votes in council elections, to Parliament last year.
In a radical restructure, similar to the government structures that were placed in Barangaroo, The Southern Industrial Area Delivery Act 2015 proposes that the area be transferred to the state from the City of Sydney. It aims to “encourage the development of the Southern Industrial Area as an active, vibrant and sustainable community, and as a location for national and global business”.
The Act also provides for the provision of affordable housing and aims for a mixed use precinct.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore criticised the Deloitte proposal the bill was based on, saying the plan approved by the NSW Government and the City of Sydney last March struck a good balance.
“The Deloitte proposal for the development of the southern employment lands would have created a residential area with a density greater than Mumbai, India,” she said.
“The plan approved by the NSW Government and City of Sydney in March this year strikes a balance between the needs of business and residents. It allows for commercial redevelopment of the land for new industries, offices, cafes and other enterprises, along with affordable housing for lower-paid workers.”
Not-for-profit organisation City West Housing told City Hub they supported the City of Sydney’s current plan to increase affordable housing in the area.
“We’re very supportive of the initiative to increase affordable housing,” they said.
City of Sydney Liberal councillor Edward Mandla has been calling for the state to take control of the land for some time, and said that Sydney was currently “playing second fiddle to Melbourne”.
“The only way for this vision to become a reality is for the Government to create a Southern Industrial Area Authority and to get on with building housing for Sydney’s future,” he told City Hub.
“I commend Robert Borsak and the Shooters and Fishers Party for bringing this matter to a head. They have recognised the enormous opportunity in the Southern Industrial Area.”
John Preston, policy advisor to Clr Mandla, briefed members of the Upper House on the plan. He said it was “common sense”, and although the numbers were large, the development would be “modest”.
“This is a very modest proposal. If anyone thinks ‘oh dear God, it’s nimby town’, we’re talking Parisian style shop-top housing. A floor or two of commercial on the building and approximately seven storeys of residential on top. This is modest,” he said.
Mr Preston said the development of the area would be managed better than Green Square, which took 17 years to come to fruition and was managed by local council. Mr Preston said Sydney didn’t have this kind of time.
“How much longer will people have to live in shipping containers? How many flophouses need to burst into flames? At what point in time are we going to ask ourselves ‘is this a city to be reckoned with?’” Mr Preston said.
“If this doesn’t happen, the consequences will be this: we continue a rustic commuter class which piles on congestion, living standards will decline and you’ll get this intergenerational charity that we’re seeing with parents subsidising their children. Something’s going to have to give.”
Mayor Moore said the City was currently delivering record high development.
“The City is delivering high quality development with a record $3.9 billion-worth of developments approved last year, and $2.7 billion already approved this year,” she said.
WestConnex’s planned route will run right to the border of the precinct. The south Sydney area is currently struggling under a need for public transportation, but Mr Preston said that developer contributions would sort this problem out.
“A new railway station and light rail, all paid for by developer contributions. Some $600 million of them, and a $300 million affordable housing fund,” he said.
Chris Johnson, CEO of Urban Taskforce Australia, said the current uses of the precinct, which are mostly industrial, would be better suited to the edge of Sydney.
He told City Hub the prospect of mixed use development was an exciting one for Sydney.
“I think it’s a natural transition that cities go through. Inner city industrial [areas] that had slightly uncomfortable industries which were not compatible with housing eventually get moved out a bit further. And that becomes an area of renewal,” he said.
“I think the real opportunity here is to get a really exciting cosmopolitan mixed use approach to this.”
The area’s potential to house 100,000 residents has also been flagged as a way to help combat Sydney’s housing crisis.
Clr Mandla told City Hub that affordable housing has been a “policy failure” in Sydney, which had to stop immediately.