Dialogue Puts Forward Its Priority Project List

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue has put forward it’s long-term priority project-list to the NSW and Federal Governments, at its annual Boomtown! Infrastructure Summit on November 22.

More than 300 guests, across the property, transport, business and community sectors are expected to attend today’s discussion to examine the major projects, plans and policy issues impacting the future growth of Western Sydney.

Dialogue Chairman, Christopher Brown AM, admitted that while some of the projects may be considered overly-ambitious, they all had the potential to transform a region that is expected to house more than four million people by 2050. 

“We’re talking about a region that over the next 30 years is expected house a population the approximate size of Western Australia,” Mr Brown said.

“Western Sydney has suffered in the past by a lack of vision when it comes to how we plan and invest in the region, and as a result, we’re still playing catch-up.

“The dial has started to shift now, through the likes of the Greater Sydney Commission, and its blueprint for how we manage our city’s growth, as well as the recently released Future Transport Strategy, which outlines the connections needed to improve mobility and access.

“But in addition to the major transport and infrastructure projects already being planned in Western Sydney – and the billions of dollars already committed – let’s start to think big and examine some of the over-the-horizon initiatives that can have a similar, transformative impact.”

According to Deloitte Access Economics, some parts of Western Sydney are expected to experience unprecedented levels of population growth over the coming decades.

“Extraordinarily, the City of Blacktown will add a population of 300,000 over the period, taking its population in 2050 to nearly 650,000. This will see Blacktown alone having a population the equivalent of both of Australia’s Territories – the ACT and NT,” the Deloitte Report, Western Sydney in 2050, states.

“Meanwhile, in the South West region stretching from Bankstown to Camden, the population will increase by 84% with a total population of 1.2 million by 2050.

Moving Parliament to Parramatta

Not as silly as it sounds.

Since 2014, the Government has announced the relocation of more than 4,200 public service roles from the Sydney CBD to Western Sydney and as part of the Parramatta Square development, a further 4000 government jobs will be relocated to Parramatta by 2019.

Parramatta is currently the home-base for Sydney Water, NSW Police, the Attorney General’s Department and the Greater Sydney Commission. It also houses NSW departmental staff from Transport, Planning, Industry and Education.

Moving Parliament to Parramatta is a concept that has the support of Lucy Turnbull, Chief Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission, and the City of Parramatta Council, which has already explored possible sites for Parliament headquarters.

“With the Metro West, which is planned to be delivered by 2030, set to connect Sydney’s two biggest commercial zones within 20 minutes, creating a government centre – in the actual centre of Sydney, at Parramatta – does make sense,” Mr Brown said.

“In addition to the tens of thousands of immediate jobs it will deliver, the flow-on impacts, particularly in terms of retail and corporate investment, make this an idea worth examination.

“Politicians often talk about being the voice of the people, well, why not be based at the centre of where the majority of its constituents reside?”

  A Blacktown CBD University Campus

The idea of having a major university based in Blacktown CBD, has been championed by current Blacktown Mayor, and recently elected member for Blacktown, Stephen Bali for the past year.

While CBD campuses have been announced in other major Western Sydney centres such as Liverpool, Bankstown and Parramatta (which opened its campus earlier this year) – Blacktown, with its downtown precinct in desperate need for rejuvenation – continues to be ignored.

The proportion of Blacktown residents attending tertiary education has doubled in the past 10 years – the area currently has more locals studying at university than Campbelltown and Liverpool – which will soon have two universities (the University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University) based in its CBD.

A downtown Blacktown campus has the capacity to spark an adjacent technology precinct to ensure the region can leverage its advance manufacturing speciality.

“This area is home to one of the biggest populations in Sydney, and its ability to generate young, smart students, unfortunately gets over-looked at times, due to its small pockets of social disadvantage,” Mr Brown said.

“We’ve seen throughout history the role, and importance, of education as a social enabler, and only need to look nearby, at places like Parramatta and Liverpool, to see how tertiary institutions can totally transform a city’s dynamic and function.”

A brand new CBD for Campbelltown as part of Sydney’s forth city of ‘Macarthur’

Over the next 20 years, Campbelltown can be transformed culturally and physically into a high rise, high tech city – based around its booming health and education precinct, boosted by its growing tourism and arts facilities and powered by a new high-speed rail link to Badgerys Creek Airport.

As it stands, the health and education sector currently provides nearly 30% of all jobs in Campbelltown, and there is increasing public and private sector interest in leveraging existing assets to help expand this industry even further.  Part of this plan includes building on the existing connection between Campbelltown Hospital and Western Sydney University, which recently opened a new clinical school on-site as a way to provide state-of-the-art training for students and other health professionals.

With the Macarthur region expected to experience a significant rise in young families, as well as over 65s, within the coming decades, the future development of Campbelltown Hospital and surrounding health precinct will have a strong focus on paediatric and other acute services such as mental health. 

Just as Westmead is planning, Campbelltown can grow ancillary services such as medical and academic conferences, health industry research and technology firms and Mayo Clinic type medical tourism from Asia, via the nearby Badgerys Creek Airport.

“Health and education are arguably the two biggest economic drivers in Western Sydney and the work that is being done now to establish a one-stop-shop for medical services and training, at the heart of one of the fastest growing regions, will ensure future health demands are met and deliver more opportunities,” Mr Brown said.

“Gone are the days when hospitals were just about beds and emergency wards. Like we’ve seen at Westmead, the modern health precinct is about facilitating growth and providing an innovative space that meets a range of different needs and uses.”

Campbelltown would also anchor a fourth ‘city’ of Sydney under the GSC designation, “Greater Macarthur”, covering the growth precincts of the South West, Southern Highlands and the Illawarra.

 Western Sydney’s International Convention Centre at Olympic Park

Helping grow the business events sector in Western Sydney has been identified by the State Government as a key long-term objective.

According to research by Deloitte, Western Sydney has a growing corporate sector that will continue to drive demand for an expanded range of business events and as this sector grows, the region will need to cater for more meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

What’s missing at the moment, is the infrastructure to support this growing demand – and with Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC) booked nearly 12 months in advance – there is a distinct gap when it comes to the provision of premium convention space in the city.

To help grow this emerging economy, the Royal Agricultural Society – which runs the Royal Easter Show and are the current 99-year lease-holders at the Sydney Showgrounds – has developed plans for Western Sydney’s own Convention Centre.

Based at Sydney Olympic Park, this boutique auditorium would complement the existing Sydney Showground event & exhibition business and underpin other Government investment in the NSW event sector, particularly the ICC in Sydney.

The Convention Centre forms one part of the RAS’ redevelopment plans for the Sydney Showgrounds, which also includes a ‘Sydney Royal’ education centre to support its primary produce education program and an indoor mixed-use arena to host rural events, such as equine, cattle and canine shows. 

“The business and conferencing sector is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Sydney economy and we can’t afford to put up the ‘house-full’ sign and risk losing these events interstate,” Mr Brown said.

“This is a major growth sector and one that continues to attract thousands of visitors to Western Sydney each year. A new convention centre at Sydney Olympic Park, in addition to helping grow our visitor economy, will bring a new dynamic to the precinct and help ensure it is activated all-year- round.”

Olympic Park will also boast a rebuilt ANZ Stadium as the best rectangular footy ground in the world, a new 10,000 seat indoor arena and possibly a new tennis centre.

SBS Liverpool and Film Studios

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue first wrote to then-Communications Minister (and now Prime Minister) Malcolm Turnbull in 2015, encouraging the Federal Government to explore the feasibility of relocating the SBS studios from mono-cultural Artarmon to multi-cultural Liverpool.

At the time, the concept had the support of then-NSW Premier Mike Baird, who described it as ‘’a great idea” as well as Liverpool Council, which has ear-marked a number of sites where it could be situated.

While there has been no movement on this proposal since, the decision to relocate the public broadcaster to the west would bring it closer to the multicultural heartland of Sydney, and provide greater opportunities to promote the diversity and stories of Western Sydney - Liverpool’s residents, for instance come from 150 birth places and speak 140 languages.

Additionally, and as Western Sydney’s popularity as a film destination continues to grow (Parramatta, Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool and Blacktown have been used as locations for major feature films in the past five years) there’s an opportunity to establish the region’s own studio as a way to appeal to young local film-makers, and leverage the area’s different environments and affordable production costs.

“With tracts of open space on the fringe of the Liverpool CBD, and with the region’s creative industries really starting to take-off, and a new airport on the doorstep, the idea of having our own major film studio in Western Sydney, as a way to harness our talent and tell our stories to a wider audience, is worth exploring,” Mr Brown said.

“Taking SBS out of the leafy northern suburbs and into Sydney’s multicultural heartland works on so many different levels, and with the Council having already identified a number of spots in the CBD where it could work, I think it makes too much sense to be ignored.

 Penrith Lakes – Western Sydney’s own harbour

Penrith Lakes has the potential to evolve over the next 20 years to become one of the largest water-based recreational parks in Australia, similar in scale to the eastern side of Sydney Harbour.

At around 1,940 hectares, it is five times the size of Sydney’s Centennial Park, and due to its vast size, can provide for a range of different uses.

Its biggest appeal, are the number of water-based activities the site, which was a former sand and gravel quarry, can support. Unlike any other natural venue in Western Sydney, Penrith Lakes can accommodate sailing, rowing, white-water rafting, paddle-boarding and other water-sports.

This new parkland could also be a recreation, tourism and environmental education destination between Sydney and the Blue Mountains and complement the existing mosaic of national parks and reserves in Western Sydney. With the potential to include a strong mix of retail, housing, leisure and events spaces, it has all the elements to become one of the region’s major visitor drawcards.

“As Western Sydney starts to embrace its water-ways and natural environments, and better integrate these beautiful spaces into our planning and future development, there are a few greater opportunities, than what exists at Penrith Lakes,” Mr Brown said.

“This precinct has all the ingredients for something special, and when you combine these vast open spaces and striking backdrop, with a sensible mix of leisure, retail, sport and other forms of urban development, and you’ve got a site that could definitely rival Sydney’s other harbour.”

The Transport and Infrastructure ‘Must-Haves’

- East-West Metro Connecting Sydney CBD to Parramatta/Westmead – and eventually on to Penrith

- North-South Rail Link Connecting Rouse Hill to Macarthur via St Marys and Badgerys Creek

- Curfew-Free Western Sydney Airport

- SW Metro Extension from Bankstown to Liverpool and Badgerys Creek

- Social Housing Renewal between St Marys and Marsden Park