Report identifies '10 big moves' to make Sydney brilliant

Infrastructure firm, AECOM, has released its economic plan for Sydney, Making Sydney Brilliant: A Manifesto for Sydney at 8 Million People, setting out a “to-do list’ to tacke the liveability, affordability and productivity constraints that threaten Australia’s economic powerhouse”.

“Sydney is currently constrained by outdated governance and planning systems that were established during the first and second industrial revolutions. They are not capable of meeting the current and future needs of Sydney if it wants to remain attractive to global talent and investment,” said AECOM Australia and New Zealand Cities leader and manifesto author, James Rosenwax.

“The pace and scale of population growth combined with the need for significant infrastructure investment demand a fresh approach to optimise the outcomes for the majority not just the few.”

“Sydney might be one of the most beautiful and desirable cities on earth and the powerhouse of our national economy, but the 5 million people who call it home today are acutely aware of the dysfunction which characterises city planning, urban transformation and infrastructure provision which is eroding our proud boast of being a great global city,” says David Pitchford, Principal of the Right Pitch Advisory, former CEO of UrbanGrowth NSW and a contributor to the manifesto.

“The time has come for us to cut through the inaction and competition within government, unleash a war against mediocrity in planning and infrastructure, and get the right things done. The first strike should be the creation of a Minister for Greater Sydney — a senior, fully empowered post in the NSW government Cabinet charged with sufficient authority, and supported by the Greater Sydney Commission, to take a whole-of-government portfolio approach to the successful delivery of major projects. This would help to make Sydney a truly great global city and most importantly, a city which is again a great place to live and prosper,” continued Mr Pitchford.

According to the manifesto, Sydney faces vast geographic imbalances between east and west in terms of jobs, amenities and services such as healthcare, education and public transport. It faces a growing infrastructure backlog, as well as critical issues around land scarcity and housing affordability, while growing demand for energy will increasingly strain the grid.

“Sydney is by no means unique insofar as rapid population growth is concerned. The majority of the world’s largest cities are experiencing the same challenges, as people migrate in their millions to urban centres for economic and lifestyle reasons,” said Mr Rosenwax.

“We are confident that Sydney can be a truly brilliant city of 8 million people, but the current trajectory will not get us there. We need a new era of partnership between federal, state and local governments, the private sector and citizens, particularly with respect to planning. This isn’t just about more road or rail, it’s about how we embrace technology to plan, govern and deliver the right projects in the most-equitable way.”

The 10 “Big Moves” to make Sydney brilliant identified by the report are:

  1. Establish a new governance model: Appoint a Minister for Sydney and a major projects control board to achieve the speed of transformation required by the city’s rapid growth.

  2. Rethink future procurement and delivery: To enable easier access to the best capability in the market and encourage more-innovative solutions.

  3. Embed a smart city approach to planning: Embed a transparent smart-city approach, similar to Singapore’s, where the public and private sectors have access to the same data to inform planning and infrastructure decisions and encourage more collaboration.

  4. Value green infrastructure: Account for the benefits and costs of trees and open spaces to create a new asset class.

  5. Optimise Sydney transport: Balance competing demands for limited road capacity by combining real-time service information, planning and integrated payment functions across all public and private modes of transit.

  6. Deliver next-generation corridors: Connect the planned three Sydney cities — the Western Parkland City, Central River City and the Eastern Harbour City — with active, multi-purpose corridors that prioritise the movement of people, water and essential services, not just vehicles.

  7. Reform Sydney’s freight network: More small delivery consolidation points, incentivise non-peak time deliveries and proactively plan for future drone traffic.

  8. Make housing more diverse and affordable: Replace stamp duty with a land tax, embrace smaller, more-efficient homes, incentivise build-to-rent investment and decouple parking from housing.

  9. Turn Sydney electric: Better integration of distributed energy resources, such as solar and planning for mass uptake of electric vehicles and the associated impacts on the grid.

  10. Create a water sensitive Sydney: Increase recreational water supply by creating a large lake or chain of lakes along the South Creek corridor in Western Sydney. This would also help cool the West and more effectively capture stormwater and recycle treated waste water.

The report is available here.

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