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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release January 2005

Tale of Two Cities - Melbourne and Sydney

Hi SOS Members

Every Australian State is distinct and different conditions apply. The SOS organisation in Victoria has supported the Victorian Government’s metropolitan blueprint, Melbourne 2030, in return for Government commitment to protect existing neighbourhoods. During the next 25 years the Melbourne 2030 plan absorbs a million new Melbournians within the current city boundaries.

SOS Victoria had planned on being able to limit overdevelopment by means of a 3 storey height restriction for residential areas. Unfortunately all this has now come unstuck. Unacceptable planning decisions have been made, including the approval of sixteen storey towers. Something has to give if you try to put more and more into a given area. A fundamental constraint has been hit, a problem of geometry. Sooner or later, as you continue to put more in, you have to stack upwards.

A Monash University study highlights some of the problems created by the Victorian Government policies, as an article in the Melbourne Age reports:

Squeezy suburbs forecast

John Masanauskas

02 June 2004

BATTLERS and middle-income families trying to buy homes will be the big losers under the Bracks Government's urban grand plan for Melbourne, according to a Monash University study.

The study said the Melbourne 2030 strategy will force thousands of families into poor areas, putting more strain on struggling communities.

The study comes amid mounting opposition to the Government's policy, with residents fearing bad development in suburbs.

The Monash study, headed by Dr Bob Birrell, said Melbourne 2030 was a recipe for planning disaster and would:

CAUSE massive congestion across the city through the building of more than 100 high-rise "activity centres".

SACRIFICE the amenity of many suburbs while protecting so-called green belts that generally have little conservation value.

CREATE wall-to-wall suburbia by packing people into a narrow urban growth boundary.

The Government launched Melbourne 2030 almost two years ago.

Melbourne's population will grow by about one million, or 626,000 households over the next 30 years.

About 40 per cent of the growth is to be housed in 118 activity centres, which will comprise high-density apartment living with shopping and leisure centres around transport hubs. Main centres include Box Hill, Camberwell, Dandenong, Frankston, Maribyrnong, Chadstone, Ringwood and Werribee.

But a comprehensive demographic study by Monash's Centre for Population and Urban Research said the activity centres won't be able to absorb the numbers predicted.

Planning Minister Mary Delahunty rejected the Monash study, saying Melbourne would remain a great liveable city.

SOS Victoria has revolted and suspended cooperation with the government. The Planning Minister, Mary Delahunty, has been sacked.

But people are still in a state of "double-think". When population numbers go up many believe that the boundaries of Melbourne and other towns must not increase and that somehow this will not result in deleterious overdevelopment. It is only when a neighbourhood begins to change that we hear the objections. Residents tend not to extrapolate their thinking about local issues to the overall situation. What happens next to them is one thing, policy is just too abstract. It is undeniable but never considered - if population increases and the area stays the same, density increases.

See "Melbourne 2030: A Vision Far Too Timid" by Wendell Cox.

The industrialist Richard Pratt, in his Australia Day address said:

"Sydney is too crowded already and lacks the infrastructure to support higher population growth.
But if Sydney is over-crowded, the rest of New South Wales and most of the rest of Australia is not.
Which is why getting our water supply and infra-structure investment right, matters so much.
We can’t plan for a sustainable population of 50 million in 50 years time unless we decentralise our people into regional Australia".

Many will question whether we want a population of 50 million in Australia but Mr Pratt is absolutely correct that if our population has to increase, some sort of decentralisation policy is essential. See


Meanwhile back in Sydney resident action groups are becoming increasingly active. After intense activity, residents of Woollahra have achieved a great victory.

White City is 4.5 hectares of land that is primarily open space. It covers a third of the Paddington valley floor in a densely populated area. A resident action group was formed to oppose developing this
site after the owners, Tennis NSW relocated to Homebush. The decision hung in the balance for years as the residents lobbied Woollahra Council and the State Government.

During the last council elections the community elected Independents on a platform of 'no rezoning' for White City. They maintained that plans to develop the site ignored issues of public benefit including open space, heritage and views and prevention of flooding and overshadowing. As a result, Council resolved to not proceed to rezone the White City valley floor for residential development.

The Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Craig Knowles has now advised that he will not intervene in Woollahra Council's final decision that it would not permit Tennis NSW's proposed rezoning to allow for residential development at White City.

Congratulations to those involved. They well deserve their victory.

The use of the media was an important element in this battle as many resident action groups realise.

SOS member Councillor Irene Simms from Auburn reports:

"I was approached by Stateline in June to comment on a story about over-development in our area, in which I took the Stateline team on a tour of one of Auburn's main streets, as well as presenting the 'counter' argument to a council resolution to allow a flat development on a tiny block of land (one of the most disgraceful decisions ever made by this council). I am surprised at how many people saw the story!!

In our case, it was local residents who took the issue to Stateline, and they told them that RAGAA was very supportive of them, so Stateline came to me, rather than me going to Stateline. (Quite flattering, but terrifying at the same time... I didn't get involved in local politics to get my 'mug' on TV) ….. Nice to know that slowly, but surely, the message is filtering through the community"

Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)

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