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Save Our Sydney Suburbs (NSW) Inc.
News Release September 2004

Metropolitan Strategy

Hi SOS Members

Today's Sydney Morning Herald (17 September) reports on a discussion paper issued by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resouces and on future forums to be held.

As a result we have sent in the following letter to the paper - what are the bets it will or won't be published?

It appears that the community group Save Our Suburbs will once again be excluded from participating in discussions on Sydney’s Metropolitan Strategy.

An application to attend the first forum was met with "The response has been overwhelming and the Forum has been fully subscribed". This was in spite of the forum being advertised by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources as being an opportunity for the public to "have their say". An application to attend the second forum was also rejected.

We now learn that community groups will continue to be excluded from these policy development forums ("City Sprawl? Ask Mark – it’s at his gate", Herald 17 Sept). Only Sydney residents who have been randomly selected from the electoral role will attend. I imagine they will be manipulated in a similar manner to what I witnessed at previous forums conducted by the same department when the subject was "Plan making in NSW". Skilled presenters can easily influence community members with no prior exposure to a complex subject such as planning.

One suspects that community participation is merely tokenist and that yet again the final outcome of the Strategy will be those making the largest political donations having their way.

However all is not gloom and doom. While it is apparent there will still be over-development in our cities, the DIPNR discussion paper also includes portions of SOS policies!

To relieve the pressure on Sydney communities Save Our Suburbs policies for the 2003 election included:
"the creation of Satellite Cities, perhaps along the road to Goulburn. Each to be as autonomous as practical and linked by high-speed transport and communications. The planning for each satellite city would emphasise:

SOS policies also suggested:

"A mix of incentives and infrastructure provision can be used to deal with the time and distance issues raised by decentralisation. These include high speed rail, top class telecommunications and tax incentives."

The DIPNR Discussion Paper, on page 15 talks about regional strategies being developed for the Canberra corridor. Going on to page 17 we read "New greenfields communities will be planned to have local jobs, access to safe and reliable public transport, local schools shops and parks......... opportunities for water sensitive and energy efficient design. .... New releases will have main street shops, local schools, local doctors and child care centres .... local employment opportunities and access to facilities and amenities".

This is a promising change. We all need to do what we can to encourage and enhance this approach.

Tony Recsei
Save Our Suburbs (SOS)

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