New paper sets a Central City vision

A new ambitious plan to reform NSW decision making, and inspire new channels of investment, was released today.

Stuck in the Middle  – A discussion paper examining how to unlock the potential of Sydney’s Central City, has put forward a number of recommendations, including the negotiation of a new City Deal (the second for Western Sydney) and the appointment of a Central City Coordinator General, as a way to strengthen regional coordination, attract public and private sector investment, and deliver improved social, environmental and economic outcomes. 

Produced by the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue and launched by the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes MP today, at NSW Parliament House in front of 100 key stakeholders across government, business, property, transport, tourism and environment sectors, the paper aims to focus attention on one of the nation’s most significant growth corridors.  

Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM said the Central City, which runs from the Hills in the north, through Parramatta, Westmead and Sydney Olympic Park, down to Hurstville via Canterbury Bankstown, hosts nearly one-third of Sydneysiders and over the next 20 years will accommodate more than half of the city’s projected population growth.

“The clock is ticking,” Mr Brown said.

“This is Sydney’s beating heart, a place that is home to some of the nation’s most significant economic hubs – places like Parramatta, Westmead, Sydney Olympic Park, Norwest, Macquarie Park and Bankstown Airport, and if we expect these job centres to continue to do the heavy lifting then they’re going to need support.

“If we want our heart to continue to pump, and reach its potential, we need to unblock its arteries. This includes strategies aimed at revitalising the region’s rivers and renewing town centres along Parramatta Road, improving the way our council areas collaborate and investing in stronger north-south connectivity,” he said.

“The Central City services the whole of Sydney, it’s the largest domestic market for goods and services, home to world class entertainment and recreation facilities and is one of the country’s leaders in advanced manufacturing and health and medical research. It demands support.

“We must however adopt a ‘community compact’ to centralise development and residential density in the downtown precincts of the Central City, leaving the traditional suburban streets alone. Well designed, high rise living, above train stations and next to great open spaces should be our promise to communities threatened by too much change, not apartment towers sticking up amid old suburban blocks,” he said.

Mr Brown added that the Western Sydney City Deal, a partnership between Federal, State and Local government was a successful template that should be replicated for the Central City.  

“There is no doubt that the City Deal, with its supporting governance structure, has focused attention on the strategic needs of the Western Parkland City, with the Western Sydney Airport as its anchor,” Mr Brown said.

“We need a similar model applied to the Central City so that the momentum that has been built in Parramatta and Westmead doesn’t stall and to ensure these key employment hubs are connected to the rest of Western Sydney – so that future investment missions by the Premier bring jobs to the centre of Sydney also.

“The Metro West, connecting Westmead to the CBD, has the potential to be just as much of a game-changer for Western Sydney as the new Airport maximising the dividend on this investment requires buy-in from all three-tiers of Government,” he said.

The launch of today’s paper at NSW Parliament featured a response panel, which included: Greater Sydney Chief Commissioner Lucy Turnbull AO, Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University Prof. Barney Glover, Commonwealth Dept. of Infrastructure and Cities Secretary Dr Steven Kennedy PSM and Mayor of Canterbury Bankstown Council Clr Khal Asfour.

The paper builds on the Greater Sydney Commission’s A Metropolis of Three Cities – the Greater Sydney Region Plan which established a vision for Sydney where most residents live within 30 minutes of their jobs, education and health services, breaking Sydney into the Eastern Harbour City; the Central River City, and the Western Parkland City.


The report’s key recommendations:

New Governance

1.     Appointment of a Co-ordinator General for the Central City and fit for purpose governance locked into a City Deal, that brings three levels of government, industry and the community to the table to accelerate the delivery of an ambitious agenda of reform and investment.

More Connectivity

2.     Funding east-west and north-south transport connections prioritising and fully funding Sydney Metro West, a project of national significance, to service the current and future transport needs of the Central City. Planning for the next wave of investment between key centres including identifying Parramatta as the connection between Sydney and other cities via future fast rail.

3.     Enabling world class digital connectivity to support existing internationally significant employment activities in GPOP and emerging industries such as advanced manufacturing, cyber security and health and medical research.

Boost for employment and skills

4.     Economic development programs that leverage key centres and institutions and plans for the next wave of private sector investments to accelerate job creation. Building on the momentum of arts, sport and cultural investments the recommended relocation of SBS and the ABC to the Central City can stimulate the digital creative sector, creating products and services for both domestic and international distribution.

5.     Digitally enabled advanced manufacturing can leverage well serviced existing industrial lands for future focussed urban products and services, being centrally located to service the whole of Sydney with good access to the freight network and our international trade gateways.

6.     Better-connected Central City can offer Australia a diverse and educated 30-minute labour catchment of national significance.

Environmental renewal of public spaces

7.     A regeneration of natural assets, including rivers, green spaces to support liveability, tourism and health outcomes. Renewal of town centres can offer better public spaces and better experiences for the community and visitors.

Housing and community infrastructure reform

8.     Reform for how we plan for and deliver housing and community infrastructure, taking a one government approach to engaging the community, all while streamlining processes and better utilising land to provide more diverse housing options.

 Read the full report here

 Read the SMH coverage of the paper launch here

 Read an opinion story by Dialogue Chairman Christopher Brown AM