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NSW planning: Density the price of convenience, says Goward

EXCLUSIVE

"We all have to share the burden, as well as the benefits, of growth": Pru Goward.

"We all have to share the burden, as well as the benefits, of growth": Pru Goward. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Planning Minister Pru Goward has sent a stark message to Sydney's established garden suburbs, warning if you live near a train station, be prepared for more density. If you want ready access to jobs or public services? Be prepared for more density.

It won't only be Parramatta and Liverpool that feel the squeeze, the leafy north shore is also in her sights. Sydney is set for another 1.6 million residents by 2031 and the new planning minister says some of them will ''absolutely'' be living near you.

"You can't live in one part of Sydney and demand that you be in a little oasis of a garden suburb and yet demand that there be greater economic growth because you want job opportunities for your children," Ms Goward said. "We all have to share the burden, as well as the benefits, of growth.''

It is a message that she applies equally to regional NSW, the inner city and Sydney's west. But Ms Goward faces a tougher sell in some former planning battlegrounds, such as Ku-ring-gai, where density is still a dirty word. ''You can't start exempting the north shore,'' she said. ''We've all got to take our share.''

The MP for Goulburn - who took on the planning portfolio a month ago after a bruising run in community services - comes ready to argue growth's fairest path is compromise.

"Planning is about trade-offs,'' she said. ''It is about balancing competing interests. There is no right answer; it's the answer that the community is prepared to live with, and often the answer is the least-worst option.''

The blueprint unveiled by former planning minister Brad Hazzard is unlikely to be one of those options.

"The planning bill, I have to say, is looking as though it would struggle to get through," said Ms Goward, who was "not hopeful" after discussions with crossbenchers, who blocked key components in the upper house.

Even so, the most controversial element may survive the bill's unceremonious defeat. Ms Goward said the fast-track development approval path known as "code assessment" had its place: ''We just have to work out where.

''Some communities are more tolerant than others,'' she said, signalling that willing councils may be given a chance to opt in. "It's a bit like any reform, including welfare reform: people are going to be very hesitant about a new way of doing business, and a good way to start is often to allow those organisations that want to try the new way of doing it to step in.''

A new way of doing things has so far included sacking the department's long-term head, Sam Haddad - necessary for ''a fresh pair of eyes'', she said.

Ms Goward was also confident that a public sceptical about urban activation precincts - plans for high-rise housing and jobs near transport hubs - could be won over by what was a ''great opportunity at the beginning of this century'' rather than ''big, bad hideous places to live''.

The precincts could be rolled out ''wherever there's a train line,'' she said.

This is one front where Ms Goward already has her work cut out. Three of the eight precincts already announced - at Randwick, Maroubra South and Mascot - have stalled amid a public and council backlash.

Better Planning Network convener Corinne Fisher, whose organisation represents more than 400 community groups, said residents were also critical of another at North Ryde.

''There's a very strong feeling that their input into zoning controls in the UAP have absolutely been completely ignored,'' Ms Fisher said.

Urban Taskforce's chief executive Chris Johnson welcomed the minister's statements in support of growth, but said it was waiting to see what direction she would take.

122 comments

  • I wonder which part of Sydney Ms Goward lives in, and how much consolidation will be taking place there.

    Commenter
    Wynne
    Date and time
    May 31, 2014, 9:18AM
    • Being the State Member for Goulburn, obviously nowhere near that area.......of course !

      I wonder why Ms Goward was "punted" from her previous portfolio?

      Commenter
      Buffalo Bill
      Location
      Sydneys Northshore
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 9:42AM
    • Roll out the high rise. There should be urban activation precincts wherever there is rail transport, and if there isn't any rail transport -eg northern beaches - build it now then the dense housing to follow,

      Commenter
      beria
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 9:56AM
    • She lied to the parliament, in a government with the even the vaguest sense of decency she would have been sacked or at a minimum, forced to resign. More corruption swept under the carpet

      Commenter
      Terry
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 10:11AM
    • Excellent point!!

      Hey Pru how do do!??!

      So you have a stark message for us hey?

      Abbot had a stark message for us. How's that working for him so far? You're an intelligent girl (for a politician) you do the math.

      Commenter
      Nicolas
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 11:23AM
    • Crikey, Terry, if they sacked every member of the government that has been before the ICAC or has been found to be shay, there would be very few left.

      Commenter
      The Genuine Article
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 11:28AM
    • Shady, not shay. My typo.

      Commenter
      The Genuine Article
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 11:45AM
    • @The Genuine Article. shady is one thing, Lying to parliament is another and under the Westminster system historically MPs who lie are not protected by the premier and the matter swept under the carpet they are sacked

      http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/calls-for-pru-goward-to-be-sacked-over-abandoned-children-20140410-36g31.html

      Commenter
      Terry
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 12:27PM
    • I was a bit tongue in cheek, Terry, of course she should have been sacked, not only was she economical with the truth, she was fairly useless as a minister.

      Commenter
      The Genuine Article
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 12:53PM
    • @Nicholas: the activity required is mathematicS, therefore the expression is "do the mathS". "Do the math" is another incorrect Americanism.

      Commenter
      trinch
      Date and time
      May 31, 2014, 1:11PM

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