16 June 2010

Sydney - the worst planned city in Australia

Not Transformer related, but this is something I experience everyday and so close enough to heart, near enough to hear, intimate enough to touch. I have been living in Sydney for 7 years. Despite all the supposed spending on infrastructure, central Sydney and most of the suburbs near the city centre have not changed or improved since the time I touched Australian soil - these places are substantially the same as they were 7 years ago.

It's pretty shocking, I know. I thought that I am the minority for thinking that I did and pointing out the infrastructure in terms of pedestrian circulation, roads, traffic light locations and timing, buses and train systems are all below 'developed nation' standard. Apparently, I am not alone.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a poll on "Which City is the Worst Planned", which closed on 15 June. The city options were: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart. It came as little surprise that 84% of the people who voted (6272 people in total) said that Sydney is the worst planned city.

Here is a copy the full article from the SMH written by Brian Robins on 14 June 2010. Original article can be seen here.

SYDNEY'S strategic metropolitan planning is the worst of Australia's major capital cities, leaving it exposed to a lack of federal government funding for essential infrastructure projects.

A survey to be released today by KPMG ranks Sydney in sixth place, with Melbourne at the top, followed by Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.

The table ranks all capital cities on criteria drawn up by the Commonwealth of Australian Governments relating to infrastructure, urban design, land release and the like.

From 2012, the federal government intends to allocate infrastructure funds on the basis of how the capital cities rank on these criteria. Based on this survey's findings, Sydney will continue to struggle to receive federal funding for major infrastructure projects.

The survey found Sydney ranks poorly in the areas of implementation and infrastructure of urban planning and design, trailing almost all other capital cities in these two areas.

''Sydney's rank … is partly a reflection of its performance in relation to managing congestion. Without delivery of further major transport infrastructure, this challenge is likely to worsen, due to forecast increasing population growth,'' KPMG noted in the report.

The Property Council of Australia and groups such as the Planning Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Architects funded the KPMG research.

''Some of the moves NSW has taken recently, such as the newly established Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority and matching some infrastructure and land use needs is where Sydney is starting to get it right,'' the acting NSW executive director of the Property Council, Glenn Byres, said.

''But we need a quantum shift in the transport space, for example. You can't have the recent flip-flops on transport … you can't announce and then abandon projects and expect to stay ahead of the congestion curve.''

The lack of certainty of large transport infrastructure projects in Sydney, with the shelving of the Metro projects and the north-west rail link, indicates that land delivery policies are also failing as a result, the report noted.

"The pressing demand for robust and deliverable strategic plans will become stronger as Sydney expands towards a population of 7 million people by 2050," Mr Byres said.

"Access to Commonwealth infrastructure funding is now also contingent on the presence of strong capital city strategic plans mandated by COAG.

"There is no time to waste and NSW needs to build on recent initiatives that illustrate an appetite for reform and an ability to reshape institutional capacity.''

The KPMG report also found that consolidating the Sydney Metro Strategy and Metropolitan Transport Plan into one document will assist the cause of better strategic planning - provided the transport vision also represents a 25-year vision

But NSW's mixed track record of implementing transport projects has undermined confidence in the state's investment priorities, with the need to better monitor, report on and improve progress towards critical spatial targets, it said.

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