Urban Taskforce Australia slams GCC discussion paper as a “glossy marketing pitch”

The latest Greater Cities Commission discussion paper has been slammed for being a “glossy, cliché-filled marketing pitch for an ivory-tower utopian vision for Greater Sydney.”

Urban Taskforce Australia CEO Tom Forrest said the paper doesn’t have a timetable for outcomes, is not concrete, and does not address the current housing supply crisis, apart from the completion of more glossy plans.

“It is a plan to do nothing before the state election in March next year,” Forrest said. “It promises global competitiveness and local liveability, but its policy targets will take housing supply backwards and drive price upwards. The discussion paper does nothing to boost housing supply now and ignores the crisis we currently face.”

One such “glossy plan” was to deliver in locations within 800m of a strategic centre or transport hub a minimum target of 25% for the proportion of the total LGA housing target through a mix of higher density housing types.

“In urban locations, councils are already delivering high proportions of the LGA housing growth targets as apartment and townhouse stock within 800m of transport nodes and strategic centres,” Forrest said. “This is not a strategy for increasing housing supply.”

The Urban Taskforce leader said GCC “has not addressed the need for a complete re-evaluation of heights and density close to railway stations and strategic centres (local CBDs).”

“If new developments are then further burdened with a need to hand to community housing providers 10% or more of the total number of apartments for affordable housing, this will push up the price for the remainder or worse, kill the feasibility of the development altogether and be a hand brake on supply,” Forrest said.

Forrest also critisised the GCC’s plan for a dedicated fast rail from Newcastle to Wollongong as lacking a strategy.

“This is a worthy goal, and the Commonwealth are supporting the vision, but t. is nothing to see in this discussion paper apart from a modest sum of funding for some preliminary planning which will one day produce a strategy to support housing supply increases in the named locations – and that’s only if it passes a rigorous business case examination process led by NSW Treasury,” he said.

Forrest said the paper has clearly been rushed into publication and made no mention of some relevant data, including rent and sales prices for apartments in urban locations and permanent migrant intake.

“The property sector is now accustomed to being bemused by the GCC and its endless stream of glossy marketing booklets,” he said. “They build false hope that the Six Cities Strategy can deliver for the housing needs of a growing Greater Sydney while in fact doing nothing to address the crisis which has evolved under their watch. The plans are predicated on rail infrastructure that are decades away. We simply can’t wait 30 years for the NSW Government to deliver fast rail connections to the Central Coast, Newcastle, and Wollongong, let alone connecting Sydney to the Southern Highlands and Canberra. We need a plan for today, not one for post-2050.”

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