Is the City of Cities Metropolitan Strategy the Answer to Sydney?

Routledge Journals
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Searle Glen 2006, 'Is the City of Cities Metropolitan Strategy the Answer to Sydney?', Routledge Journals, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 553-566.
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The new City of Cities metropolitan strategy (Department of Planning, 2005a) is probably the most comprehensive planning strategy that Sydney has had since its first strategy over 50 years ago. And in many ways it reads more like that plan than any of the other ones since then. It has, or has set in motion, an old-fashioned level of planning detail that recent strategic planning outside Australia has forsaken. New employment zone locations, a retail hierarchy that government consultations have extended to 1000 identified centres, new urban sector structures, subregional dwelling targets, and more, give the strategy an almost heroically detailed pathway for the government's intended future for Sydney. To a significant extent, this detail has been delivered at the behest of the developer sector, which lobbied strongly for a new strategy. The Property Council of Australia document Metro Strategy: A Property Industry Perspective (Property Council of Australia, c.2004) stated that a strategic plan was needed to give direction to private sector investment decisions, and to give a framework for local planning. To achieve this, a new plan needed, inter alia, to set location- and density-specific targets for population and employment, and to set job targets for key centres (Property Council of Australia, c.2004). Indeed, the development industry vision is writ large across the City of Cities strategy and its supporting documents. The strategy's commitment to a strong centres and corridors employment policy, and structure planning for major new urban release areas in the northwest and south-west sectors, were both central recommendations in the Property Council's document. Subsequent state government decisions to set up a redevelopment authority for inner city Redfern-Waterloo and to fund more metropolitan infrastructure through government loans also reflect recommendations in that document. This review describes the main elements of the City of Cities strategy. It then nominates key planning issues facing Sydney, and assesses the performance of the strategy in regard to each of these issues.
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