Taking pressure off Sydney’s congested city by re-focusing efforts on Parramatta might not be smooth sailing, with many commuters not wanting to work outside of the CBD, a planning firm claims.
Parramatta has been heralded as Sydney’s second CBD with everything from the Powerhouse Museum to government jobs moving to this western Sydney hub, but people aren’t necessarily eager to work there, a survey of 500 people shows.
Asking commuters in Parramatta and Sydney’s CBD whether they’d work closer to home if the opportunity was available, the most common response was “probably not”, research from planning experts MacroPlan Dimasi that was presented at the Urban Development Institute NSW Industry Briefing on Tuesday found.
There was a split of yes and no responses, at 40.9 per cent and 41.5 per cent respectively, which had ramifications for future plans of a polycentric city with less reliance on the Sydney CBD, MacroPlan executive chairman Brian Haratsis said.
“People have worked out that higher level accounting and IT jobs [the types of jobs that tend to pay more], are in the CBD.
“They’d rather commute than have a job closer with no career advancement and no professional network.”
This may be because commuting to the CBD offers access to many financial services, IT and media jobs that the outer suburbs currently lack, he said. And with plans to make Parramatta a second CBD, this could be a sobering result.
More than 40 per cent of respondents spent more than 45 minutes commuting each way to work – or 14 days a year – with about two thirds using public transport.
And when choosing where to live, being close to public transport topped the list – with 55.4 per cent claiming this was a factor. About 50 per cent also claimed the most likeable thing about their work’s location was its proximity to public transport.
“We’d need to double the size of Parramatta to make it large enough to accommodate the [finance and technology sector] jobs we need,” Mr Haratsis said.
“We have to build up and out to get the attributes of a CBD.”
This increase in Parramatta’s size would need to occur by 2035 and it would need to revitalise the surrounding areas as well, he said.
“In the past small businesses would start in Surry Hills and move into the city when they grew. In Parramatta, where is the equivalent?
“Go a kilometre [further out from Parramatta] and you’re back in suburbia.”
Parramatta is already on-track to bringing in more of the job types usually associated with the traditional CBD, Sydney Business Chamber director Western Sydney David Borger said.
“Parramatta will always be different to Sydney [CBD] but there is a juggernaut of development happening,” Mr Borger said.
“Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG have all moved into Parramatta.”
In particular, he pointed to the growing health sector of neighbouring Westmead and a burgeoning finance sector as areas where employment was on the rise.
And within the next 15 to 20 years, there will be an additional one million people living in Western Sydney, City of Parramatta council administrator Amanda Chadwick said.
“Parramatta will be the commercial hub for this additional population, which is driving business and infrastructure growth in the region,” Ms Chadwick said.
“The Western Sydney region is set to experience significant population growth in the coming years and the state government has set an objective of creating 100,000 jobs for Greater Parramatta by 2036, including an additional 50,000 in the Parramatta CBD.”
The $2 billion Parramatta Square project is expected to attract “14,000 knowledge jobs created”.
But the growing pains of Sydney’s secondary CBD were a concern for Parramatta-based Just Think Real Estate director Edwin Almeida.
“For the next 20 to 30 years it’s going to be a residential hub, not a commercial hub. There will be residential towers everywhere and very little parking,” Mr Almeida said.
“People will still commute into the city.”
The Sydney property boom had “exacerbated” the problem, by creating a focus on new homes as “there’s more money to be made building residential towers than commercial”, he said.
“What we really need is commerce, 10-level car parks.”
About MacroPlan: MacroPlan’s experienced and qualified economists align their understanding of macro-economic forces with micro-economic variables such as geographic and industrial characteristics, demographics, labour market shifts, resource demand and commercial realities. Contact Brian Haratsis, Executive Chairman today to discuss your property research requirements.