Parramatta is now recognised as important to the future of Greater Sydney. As we approach the end of 2016, it’s a good time to reflect on the government’s commitments and future plans for Parramatta, Western Sydney’s capital.
For the first time, planning, coordination and delivery of infrastructure, jobs and homes will be coordinated by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC).
The GSC’s West Central District Draft Plan incorporates Parramatta, Olympic Park and Blacktown and is in now on display for comment. The draft plan provides a 20 year vision and sets out the district’s growth potential and opportunities.
The Western City District is recognised as one of the most dynamic and rapidly growing in Australia. The plan identifies Parramatta as the heart of the Greater Parramatta and Olympic Peninsula (GPOP). Parramatta will become one of Greater Sydney’s three key administrative, business and residential centres by 2036.
The plan sets out GPOP’s job targets over the next 20 years. The area surrounding Parramatta CBD and Westmead is expected to go from 96,500 jobs in 2016 to 156,000 and Sydney Olympic Park from 30,100 in 2016 to 45,000 jobs by 2036.
Parramatta LGA’s population is projected to grow from 230,000 to 407,000 in 20 years. A projected 21,650 new dwellings will be needed in LGA in the next 5 years.
Population growth also means greater demand for schools. The report projects an extra 35,400 school children (aged 5 -19 years) in Parramatta LGA in the next 20 years (a 92% increase by 2036).
Recognising the growing demand for quality education, the NSW Government is building Australia’s first vertical public schools in the heart of Parramatta.
The schools will be the State’s flagship future schools opening in 2019 and accommodate 1,000 primary and 2,000 high school students.
The schools are adjacent to the new Western Sydney University Parramatta City Campus which is part of the $2.5 billion Parramatta Square urban renewal project. This campus will open early next year and will cater for 10,000 students. Parramatta is becoming a town and gown city.
Rapid growth in residents, jobs and homes give us the opportunity not just to build a big city but a great city.
World-renowned urban designer Jan Gehl, describes the best lively cities are a combination of inviting spaces and critical mass.
Cities need to be safe, sustainable and healthy with good public spaces to gather, stay and explore. Cities need to have good connectivity, from public transport through to pedestrian pathways and cycle ways.
Good public transport is a key priority for the NSW Government and vital for a liveable city. The $3 billion 23 km Parramatta Light Rail, described by Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance as a mega-project, will be a catalyst to transform Parramatta and its suburbs.
It connects Westmead biomedical precinct to Parramatta CBD, Camellia, Silverwater and Olympic Park– the area covered by GPOP. The Carlingford line will also be replaced with light rail which will allow the $2.5 billion redevelopment of Telopea.
Construction of shared pedestrian and cycle ways along the light rail corridor provides the opportunity connect jobs, homes and parks without the need for cars. When combined with the existing shared paths along Parramatta River and the Green Grid, Parramatta will be an exemplar of a connected city providing residents with alternate and viable transport options.
Parramatta fits into Gehl’s notion of a transport orientated city having relatively high-density living serviced by light-rail. This notion identified the benefits to residents and users with shorter walking and cycling distances to stations, homes and workplaces.
Light rail, pedestrian and bicycle pathways significantly enhance connectivity through the GPOP. These will help facilitate pedestrian traffic through the city to fantastic new public domains like the new Western Sydney Stadium, Powerhouse Museum and the North Parramatta Heritage Precinct.
Lively cities give people more opportunities for social exchanges.
NSW Premier Mike Baird described the new Powerhouse as our answer to the Smithsonian. This will be a major drawcard - it will provide a fantastic public space for residents and workers to meet, enjoy and experience. It will also be an anchor for an arts and culture hub – creating more great public places for people to interact.
Another major public domain and tourist magnet is the North Parramatta Heritage Precinct. It’s located between two major employment hubs - Westmead Medical Precinct and Parramatta CBD. This precinct will include 2,700 homes, a village centre and $100 million investment in adaptive reuse of heritage buildings.
With good urban planning, we can bring all these aspects together to build a city where we are all proud to call our home.
Geoff Lee is State Member for Parramatta.