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Integrating Sydney's Transport and Land Use

The relationship between transport and land use is essential in delivering a high quality planning outcome. JBA’s Daniel Howard looks at the current opportunities for land use integration in Sydney, and gives thought to future relations between urban form and transport.

Above: Artist Impression of Campsie Station. Source: Sydney Metro

Truly integrated transport and land use planning in Sydney has been lacking for a number of decades. However, in recent times the NSW Government has shown focus on delivering key public transport infrastructure improvements in line with significant urban renewal.

The relationship between transport and land use is essential in delivering a high quality planning outcome. It is this interdependent relationship which essentially shapes the built form of places. This article will take a look at the opportunities on the table ensuing from the integration of higher density residential and mixed-use infill redevelopments with new planned public transport infrastructure. I will also give thought to future relationships between urban form and transport as Sydney continues to grow and densify.

Whilst Sydney has historically grown along rail corridors in a linear fashion, significant congestion from private cars is evident on key roads through inner areas, showing that the public transport and land use relationship has diminished and movement patterns are no longer dependant on rail. Government thinking is beginning to shift towards the economic and environmental benefits from which high capacity and free moving public transport brings. Whilst road infrastructure can contribute to renewal precincts and infill population growth, the demand for public transport infrastructure is growing by both the development industry and the residential market.

In recent times and to unprecedented levels, the government has committed to new public transport infrastructure. Confirmed by recent 2016-17 budget papers, and is now in the delivery pipeline includes the following:

  • Sydney Metro North-West - $8.3 billion
  • Sydney Metro City and South-West - $12 billion plus
  • CBD to Randwick and Kingsford Light Rail - $2.1 billion
  • Parramatta Light Rail (Westmead, Strathfield and Carlingford connections) - $2 billion plus
  • Northern Beaches Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) - $125 million

It is also important to note that many of these projects have influenced significant urban redevelopment and renewal projects predominately planned by the NSW Government to deal with Sydney’s on-going population growth. A Plan for Growing Sydney confirms the need for 664,000 new homes by 2031. New infill precincts in the planning phase include:

  • Central to Eveleigh Corridor and Redfern-Waterloo Renewal
  • Greater Parramatta and Olympic Peninsula
  • Showgrounds, Bella Vista and Kellyville Priority Precincts
  • Epping Town Centre, Macquarie University (Herring Road), Macquarie Park and North Ryde Urban Investigation Areas
  • Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor
  • Arncliffe and Banksia Priority Precinct
  • Parramatta Road Corridor

As planners, this brings us to the exciting bit. The real picture of integrated transport and land use begins to come together once the two components are overlayed. JBA have prepared a visual to demonstrate the spatial integration of new key transport and land use proposals, as follows.

Integrating Sydneys Transport and Land Use - Image 1_LR.jpg
Figure 1: Current overlay of committed transport and renewal/infill precincts. Source: JBA

Future infill redevelopment opportunities within Sydney are likely to follow the trends of being located in close proximity to a transport node and increasingly, along a broader transport corridor. The NSW government is presently considering future transport options which are likely to result in the on-going supply of renewal precincts over the coming decades. Thoughts on areas and corridors which are likely to undergo a transformation are:

  • Bankstown to Liverpool Metro Extension – In March 2016, the NSW Government announced the consideration of the extension of the planned Metro line through to Liverpool. If this is adopted, it is conceivable that places such as Milperra, Bankstown Airport and Georges Hall, which all currently lack frequent public transport options, could be considered to include renewal precincts ready sometime around 2030.
  • CBD and Harbour Crossing Metro Expansion – The May 2016 exhibition of the Metro Environmental Impact Statement has revealed two stub tunnels to allow for the uninterrupted expansion of the Metro network. One is located within North Sydney which places a potential future Metro line through Neutral Bay to Mosman, Manly and beyond. The other is located in Alexandria which potentially allows a line west towards Hurstville connecting to the Illawarra line or along a new tunnel alignment towards Botany/Maroubra. It is predicted these stub tunnel expansions are likely to be longer term projects beyond 2030.
  • Parramatta Light Rail Expansion – A converging network of light rail lines has long been the centrepiece thought to underpin Parramatta as Sydney’s second CBD. The successful implementation of the pilot lines connecting Westmead, Homebush and Carlingford to Parramatta opens up the possibility of expansion to Bankstown, Macquarie Park and Castle Hill - all of which have been considered for their feasibility and which would improve connectivity in the period from 2020 to 2030 and truly enshrine Parramatta as a functioning CBD.
  • Kingsford Light Rail Extension – Potential lies in the eventual extension of the line to service Maroubra and Malabar which would support future redevelopment of the Randwick barracks and the Long Bay prison complex. This could soon follow the completion of the first stage of the line in 2019.
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – The government is investigating BRT systems for implementation along Parramatta Road and Victoria Road, the former as a result of the WestConnex project. This may further open up precinct based renewal for key nodes along the route such as Five Dock/Burwood or Ryde/Melrose Park, which are already showing renewal activities. Given the reduced cost of the BRT systems compared to heavy rail, these may come into operation in the decade from 2020

What makes future public transport options within Sydney more interesting is the potential for projects led by the private sector, through Unsolicited Proposals. These projects will be backed by residential and commercial development around station nodes, through large precinct wide development. Aside from the greenfield and high-speed regional proposals, is the notion of another metro-style line from Central to Westmead via Olympic Park and Parramatta, (and onwards to the future Western Sydney Airport) which is of interest for infill renewal. The intermediate stops have potential to spur greater activity around Rosehill, Camelia, Olympic Park areas and underpin The Bays precinct, for example.

Integrating Sydneys Transport and Land Use
Figure 2: Future opportunities for integrated transport and renewal/infill precincts. Source: JBA

There are significant opportunities for Sydney to integrate transport and urban renewal and to implement “density done well” through robust precinct based approaches to new infrastructure and development. This will assist in accommodating a growing population in close reach of jobs, education, health, shopping, entertainment and recreation.

However, it is important to consider that the bulk of the short to medium term opportunities identified seek to maintain the status-quo with the Sydney CBD as the centre, or what planners define as a “monocentric” city. What will define the longer term growth of the city is meaningful infrastructure which will create a multi-centred “polycentric” Sydney. This means infrastructure which doesn’t necessarily pass through the CBD but which seeks direct connections between other centres such as Parramatta, Liverpool, Blacktown, Penrith and Bankstown. Infill renewal will then support these corridors, advancing these secondary centres, creating more attractive employment hubs, ultimately diversifying density throughout Sydney.

Unlocking cross-city connections and nodes will be pivotal in the next chapter of Sydney’s densification. Government interest and investment is likely to align future transport corridors with large and consolidated redevelopment precincts. Significant opportunities lie with the development industry to align and deliver these precincts together with new Metro, Light Rail and BRT networks. Sydney has tremendous opportunities to grow within its existing footprint. The upcoming District Plans and review of the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan are together expected to further detail these growth opportunities for the coming decades.

Sydney has the potential to enter into an innovate phase of accommodating cohesive transport and land use relationships through aligned government and private sector thinking. This will be essential in building a proud and successful global city, with a long term vision of a connected, multi-centred city. Of course, the proof will be in the concrete.


JBA has been and will continue to follow any plans or opportunities for integrated transport and renewal precincts. To discuss how your property might be impacted by these plans, or assistance in leveraging these opportunities, we invite you to contact Daniel Howard on 02 9956 6962.