May message from Michael Tilt, CEO

The federal election race is on!  It’s proving to be more of a marathon than a sprint, with the finishing post still over a month away. There have been some big ticket promises made by both of the major parties which will be of interest to our sector.  These include a $200 million commitment to defence in the Northern Territory and major funding for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor at $150 million from the Liberals.  Labor is talking about a substantial $1.8 billion for country classrooms and a half billion for the Adelaide Light Rail.

Whatever the outcome on July 2, the focus on the national election has drawn attention away from NSW local government.  NSW Premier, Mike Baird, announced this month the creation of 19 new councils with plans for nine more.

The new councils, formed by merging smaller existing councils, have been promised significant funding to ease the amalgamation process: $10million each for the administrative costs involved in merging and $15m for community infrastructure such as sporting facilities, libraries and swimming pools.

Australia’s biggest public transport project, Sydney Metro, will deliver 31 metro stations, more than 65 kilometres of new rail, and have capacity for 40,000 customers per hour.  Calls are now out for input into the Environmental Impact Statement around the first stage of the project - the 15km stretch between Chatswood and Sydenham - including new stations for Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo and Waterloo.  We will be assisting clients in preparing submissions to the EIS until June 27.

And still in Sydney . . . as one of the successful teams in the UDIA City Life Labs, we presented an update to the key stakeholders on how we’re progressing our research on Polycentric cities.  Sydney is now the second least affordable city in the world, and the polycentric model is something many developers and industry leaders have investigated over many years but the current regulatory frameworks have prevented this model from working. While there are still regulatory constraints, an equally problematic constraint is the perception amongst employers and developers that they “need to be in the city”.  The first stage of our research is to identify the obstacles, both in attitude and in government regulations, to employment-related development outside the CBD. If you live and work in Sydney or Parramatta, please take the survey for your chance to win a $300 Westfield voucher.

Heading north...South East Queenslanders are being urged to have their say and help shape the Palaszczuk Government’s planning blueprint for the region’s future. Over the next six weeks South East Queenslanders can get involved in the ‘Shaping SEQ conversation’ by visiting ideas hubs at various community events across the region, or submitting feedback online.

Finally, the recent PIA national congress in Brisbane was a great success and the MacroPlan sponsored dinner was a hoot.  It’s always a delight to get together with people in the planning profession from around Australia and overseas!

Michael Tilt